In life, it’s really hard to walk away from something you’re passionate about. And perhaps nowhere is it tougher than in the music biz.
The music industry is littered with shitty albums from artists who should have quit a decade ago. And there are also endless, often sad examples of artists who wasted their lives pursuing the elusive rock star dream, or simply didn’t acknowledge that it was time to move on.
Acaro frontman Chris Harrell isn’t going to be one of them. Chris and his beautiful wife Sherry recently had twin girls. Realizing his focus needs to be on providing for his girls, he’s made the agonizing decision that he simply doesn’t have the time and energy to dedicate to Acaro full-time, so he’s moving on. Horns up to Chris for not only putting his family first, but also his craft.
Chris explains it in this post from his Facebook page: “I’m not saying I am done with music forever, just the pursuit of ‘the dream’ aspect of it. It has taken me on many amazing adventures across many miles and with many amazing people, and for that I am deeply and truly honored … it is time for me to take on another role in this life, one that is far more important than any tour I did, any song I helped write and any show I may have played. It’s the role of being a daddy to two beautiful little girls who owned my heart the second we found out we were having them. And I am very excited to help them grow, learn and become wonderful human beings (who will hopefully love music as much as Daddy does).”
Chris, who played an emotional final show with Acaro Friday night at Great Scott, wasn’t going to become another rock ‘n roll statistic or footnote to Massachusetts’ metal history. No, he’s smart enough – and more importantly, respects the metal genre enough – to know that you can’t front an extreme metal band part-time or half-assed.
In the extreme metal genre, perhaps more than any other, precision and timing are everything. You can’t fuck up. When bands practice once a week or once a month, it shows. Things get sloppy quickly. Dedicated headbangers and extreme metal nerds notice that shit, and then you’re done. If you can’t match the ridiculously fast shredding, neck-breaking changes and mosh-inducing grooves of those ruling the genre, then you’re gone faster than you can say nu-metal.
But Chris’ legacy in the annals of Boston’s metal history is secure. He’s been a fixture on the scene for a decade plus and first made his mark as frontman for Burn In Silence. Burn In Silence made a lot of noise with its only release, 2006’s “Angel Maker,” which came out on powerhouse metal label Prosthetic Records. They garnered a lot of attention with the amazing track, “The Age in Which Tomorrow Brings,” and the album as a whole showed incredible potential. They toured the country and shared stages with the likes of Damageplan, Alice in Chains, and Morbid Angel.
They were breaking in the fertile metal underground, just as the whole Massachusetts scene exploded in the mid-2000s. Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, All That Remains, The Red Chord and Unearth were rising fast, earning space in Hot Topic, selling out mid-size venues, headlining festivals and even getting Grammy nods. But like every scene, not every band can make it and there are often many deserving bands left on the sidelines.
Burn In Silence ran its course, but Chris quickly hooked up with guitar virtuoso Felipe Roa to form Acaro, a melodic deathcore machine. The band picked right up where BiS left off and instantly became a key part of the Mass. scene. They shared bills with fellow Massachusetts bands The Acacia Strain and Revocation, and landed a big national tour in 2012 opening for Killswitch and Shadows Fall.
That tour, which marked the 10th anniversary of Killswitch’s classic “Alive or Just Breathing,” sold out arenas and theaters across the country and was further proof of the power of the Mass scene.
There were also huge festivals and opening slots along the way, landing them on stages with some of the genre’s biggest acts: Devil Driver, Behemoth, Hatebreed, In Flames, Asking Alexandria, Overkill, Fear Factory, Prong and Dark Tranquility. It was one hell of a run.
Friday night, Chris and the band, as always, put their whole heart and being into the show. Watching Chris take his final crowd surf and give a parting salute was certainly bittersweet. Chris was clearly overcome by the emotion and intensity of the moment, and it definitely made me sad to ponder what must have been going through his head.
But it also made me happy and proud to see a dude so passionate about his craft – and so grounded in his own reality – to know that it was time to walk away. For some, the pursuit of a career in such a niche genre just isn’t sustainable, especially when there are two amazing new lives involved. For recognizing and respecting that, I salute Chris.
While he won’t be growling out “Becoming the Process” or “Forever is Temporary” anytime soon, we won’t have to go far to see him in his element. He’s been tending bar at The Model and we’ll surely see him the next time Unearth, Revocation, Killswitch, Slayer or Behemoth is in town.
So stop in and be sure to say hi, buy him a cold one, and ask him how his girls are doing.