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Destruction & Krisiun Shred Up Springfield, Virginia; Attending Writer Philosophizes

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Band Photo: Destruction (?)

“Fuck all this ‘thrash,’ ‘black,’ ‘power’ bullshit,” snarls the towering mountain of a bassist from stage right. “It’s all Metal, right? That’s why we’re all here.”

Coming from Marcel “Schmier” Schirmer, a genre veteran and one of thrash metal’s European founders, these are powerful words. They serve as a reminder of Destruction’s influences – which, considering the German band’s pioneer status, are decidedly traditional – and its legacy, which includes death and black metal.

All told, Schmier has made it credibly clear that tonight is about celebrating Metal, with that capital “M.” Being heavy, playing your heart out, thrashing, rocking. ‘Banging, for those who can use the word “bangover” with a straight face. That’s a multi-context word if I’ve ever heard one.

Amazingly, the crowd reaction and behavior matches Schmier’s sentiment. This is the kind of environment and collective attitude I always yearn for at shows, but which rarely presents itself.

Springfield, Virginia’s Empire (formerly Jaxx), however, somehow seems to attract these good vibes on a regular basis, because I’ve yet to attend here amongst a crowd of insufferable elitists or plain haters.

Said vibes have suffused Empire with a warm, electric crackle of excitement from the moment I stepped through the door. They danced through the air of the nearby Alchemy Room and its glowing bar as I interviewed Destruction guitarist Mike Sifringer during opener Widow’s soundcheck.

They were present as I ventured into the venue proper once Widow’s set had gotten under way, and a small but delighted group of early arrivals rocked, grooved, and yes, even banged, to the Raleigh, North Carolina group’s brand of classic Maiden-style metal.

They shivered up my spine as I performed a time-honored ritual: the cursory scan over the merch tables. Rather small spread with a limited selection, but fitting for a no-frills show of this size. And casual. One vendor present at any given time, no more than necessary. Intimacy. More chills.

These vibes I can only define as Live Metal Euphoria, the stuff of hokey metalhead lore, the teary-eyed mythical sentiments of brotherhood and togetherness at which we tend to roll our eyes with the sad knowledge that such is usually NOT the case, that most shows tend to come with a few pricks determined to spoil the fun (and a fair number more who silently judge you by your band shirt and invariably decide they’re “more metal” than you).

Any doubts that tonight would be a rare case of truth in legend were obliterated when support act Krisiun of Brazil stepped up to do their thing. “We’re gonna play hard, and we’re gonna play fast,” bassist/growler Alex Camargo announced toward the start of the set.

“Death metal” is too easy a description of Krisiun’s music. It’s a sound built on those aforementioned euphoric vibes, a pulsing, hypnotic progression of streamlined, raw riffing and bone-crushing grooves that build on each other to dizzying climax. After a while, I found myself leaning forward intently, elbows rested on the flat railing surrounding the amphitheater pit-like floor, utterly drawn in, head bobbing in pace without a deliberate thought to be grasped.

But that floor has since crowded up a bit – always a cue to get in on the action while you still can. So it’s here, down on the floor before stage left, that I presently find myself standing as Destruction rips through a massive set of sinister thrash tunes.

A random thought strikes me: the pristine, razor-sharp sound of both the support and the headliner could owe just as much to their lineup arrangement as to their sound crews and the venue’s staff.

Both Krisiun and Destruction are three-piece bands. This removes much onstage clutter in terms of personnel and movement. It also ensures their respective guitarists, Moyses Kolesne and Sifringer, burst through the wall of rhythm noise in a clean, lacerating sweep. It equally guarantees that bassists Camargo and Schmier – interestingly, both are lead vocalists – are heard as intended: with a menacing rumble. In Destruction’s case, that’s hard to pull off in thrash, but it works.

Destruction is still promoting the latest album “Spiritual Genocide.” [2012] While only the title track and video single “Carnivore” are played, a couple other recent killers are hauled out: “Armageddonizer” and “Hate Is My Fuel” from “Day Of Reckoning.” [2011]

I admire the fact that Destruction is not content to rest on the laurels of what a small coterie of stuck-in-the-past thrashers would consider the “better, classic” material, i.e. holdovers from the ‘80s.

This is not a legacy act; since properly reforming in 2000, the band has been cranking out consistently solid, hard-hitting thrash just about every other year. So aside from the essential selections modernized on the re-recordings compilation “Thrash Anthems,” [2007] it’s not a nostalgic circle jerk.

Instead, it’s a career-spanning, indiscriminate lovefest that begins with all-purpose opener “Thrash Till Death” from “The Antichrist” [2001] and closes with the band’s celebratory anthem of rebirth, “The Butcher Strikes Back” off “All Hell Breaks Loose.” [2000]

Another random thought strikes me: both Destruction and Krisiun, with their minimalist lineups, restrictive positions (firing up a crowd as frontman can be a challenge while playing an instrument), lack of onstage gimmickry, and really, lack of excessive banter, have managed to completely avoid boredom.

You have all the ingredients of a dull show, and these acts have taken those ingredients, remixed them, spiced them, shoved them up naysayers’ asses and out their mouths, and concocted a spellbinding event of thrashing, rocking, headbanging goodness.

Must be the special sauce. Or whatever you want to call these strange, intangible vibes that permeate the venue from stage to floor, from merch table to bar, when everything seems to go so sweetly right. If any equipment crises were experienced and averted, I never knew, I still don’t know, and I’d rather not know. I’m not the “Music Police,” in Mike Sifringer’s words.

Or, in Alex Camargo’s words in our after-show interview, “It’s not really about impressing people, but about really bringing it… Good music is good music, and fashion sucks.”

OverkillExposure's avatar

Mike Smith is a Southern-born, New England-based writer and a diehard metal and hard rock fan. As a music journalist, he is a staffer with Metalunderground.com and Outburn Magazine. As a screenwriter/producer, he is currently working on his first film with director Jason Matzner ("Dreamland").

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