Seattle’s bar scene – particularly in the faux-folksy Ballard neighborhood – doesn’t exactly scream “metal,” so it’s puzzling that aggressive acts, especially out-of-towners, always flock to the Sunset Tavern. The dim, red hue of the joint does loosen you up, but not enough to produce any audience movement in the narrow crowd space in front of the angled stage.

In keeping with tradition for local hardcore shows of any city, the bill featured four bands over the course of three hours, set-change times included. So opening sets by emotional sludgers Heiress and Botch-acolytes Great Falls flew by, as did Dog Shredder‘s main course.

The almost-local math-thrash group took the stage with a set of blinding, red columns of light beamed directly at the audience. It was a peculiar role-reversal – the band tearing through riffs from the shadows while the intimate audience watched from the spotlight. The crowd probably never reached over 30 people at one time, and by the end of a Thursday night, Dog Shredder was playing for maybe 15 people plus the apathetic Sunset staff. However, the whole front row felt a little like we were witnessing Seattle’s best, reluctantly-kept secret.

The guys of Dog Shredder (Josh Holland, Noah Burns, and Jeff Johnson) played just five songs, opening with “Battle Toads” off of their Brass Tactics EP, followed by three newbies with titles following in the Spinal Tap/Dethklok tradition of their band name: “The Wrecking Ball Unchained“, “Uriah Herp“, and “Blood Maker.” They nailed all of these, but the Sunset’s iffy sound quality made listening to new material – especially stuff with so many twists and turns – a bit difficult.

Basically, once the guys figure out what works and what doesn’t on the new tracks, they need to lay it down in the studio ASAP, so the people can get what they need. To solidify this point, their closing track, and sole post-Brass Tactics recording, “Shadow Deserts” was immediately met with cheers, as well as two dudes drumming along on the monitors and a few people screaming the literally and metaphorically-apt chorus, pairing vultures and shadows with gumption and courage:

"Shadow Deserts"

Sound quality and early audience inhibition issues aside, Dog Shredder still killed it – foreshadowing what they could do with a longer set on an actual weekend, and with more recordings released beforehand to their fans. All of that would pretty much guarantee an audience as unruly as drummer Noah Burns’ beard, and according to frontman Josh Holland, it’s all in store for the near future. These guys make the Seattle local set exciting.