I.R.A.T.E. At The Whisky A Go Go September 14th
Opener PANDEMIC is a Northern California based progessive thrash metal act that combines elements of traditional 80's Maiden'ish type metal, thrash, and progressive metal. The band is made up of Andy Giardina on lead vocals, Julian Kidd on rhythm & lead guitar, Patrick Daly, rhythm & Lead Guitar, Adam Herman on bass and Eric Ford behind the drum kit. I would say one of the first things I heard in their wicked sound was Strapping Young Lad, due to the super heavy twin-guitar attack and the quirky, totally theatrical stage performance from Giardina. Slamming through crushers like 'Still Part Human', 'Left For Dead' and 'Viral Visceration', this is a band that is not trying to be like every other metal act that puts on the makeup and garter belt to get your attention.
Pandemic is just a buncha guys that, to me, represent all that is the very essence of heavy metal music: spirit and fight! They seemed to have the early crowd on the toes of their feet with a seemingly non-stop double-bass drumming assault and soloing guitars that at points sounded as deafening as an air raid. They were thick with killer changes and interesting choruses, seemingly rough around the edges at points like any young band, but with a driving intensity throughout the entire set that made you have to applaud. It even made the night that much more metal when the band closed their set with the song 'Ode To Odin'. I must admit that I laughed inside when I heard the name, figuring, "Here comes Spinal Tap!". But I was even more impressed with this tune over all the others because of the gritty lyrical content and deathly-haunted chorus, grinder fed by the heavy, face pounding guitar riff.
Next up was quite essentially one of my biggest discoveries out of heavy metal's underground scene for 2006. The band's name is HOSTILITY and trust me, this is not the last time you will hear about these guys. I cannot go into absolute detail about what it is like when you see the future of heavy metal right before your eyes and then get to hang out and drink some of the Crown with the band afterwards. When you're as diehard and devoted to metal music as I have been for over twenty-five years, the best word to attach to what I felt is: MAGIC.
Hostility's sound simply blows away literally any other metal act I have seen live in the past years, even at times roaming in 'God-like' territory of Super Joint Ritual, who unlike most, I saw three times live here in Los Angeles back before Dime got stolen from us all. WIth a blood curdling, screaming precision and almost mechanized body movement, Greg Haran on lead vocals was certainly evenly matched laid up against the all-out 'goddamn electric' performance from Tony Vorrises on lead guitar. I swear at moments I thought this dude was channeling our old friend Darrell. Bringing down a tremendous rhythm section to back it all up was Brandon Sigmund on bass and Andrew Holzbaur on drums. Taking us from one taste of their brutality to the next with songs such as 'None For All' and 'Death As Leverage', their near forty minute set seemed to come and go as quick as death itself walks into the room and takes the life of another loved one. These guys are so good that honestly, I don't know what more to say about them but that I cannot wait for their label to send me their newly released album 'Uncompromised' on indie label The Pen.
I.R.A.T.E. took complete ownership of the stage once it was their turn, however. I tell you that it literally seemed as if these guys encouraged the 'tough act to follow' scenario, because they were easily three times as solid and intense than the last time I saw them earlier this year as headliner for the first Project Independent Tour. The boldest choice of all was that they opened the set with a cover of Oingo Boingo's 'Dead Man's Party'. It seemed readily apparent to my trained ear that all its members have not only gotten tighter as a musical unit since doing all the endless touring this year but they are not letting up in the sheer bravado and swagger that they always infuse with their steady onslaught of hardcore metal done well. The guilty culprits: lead singer, Erik Ulrich, Rudy Hewlett on guitars, Eric Buell on bass and drummer, Jason Berglund, seemed to take complete glee in the fact that the audience literally became mesmerized by them from start to finish. Tearing like a Texas Twister through much of their latest album 'Brothers Of The Same Struggle' with a workman-like ethic, I.R.A.T.E. clearly has stepped up their game a major notch in my mind. The crowd was literally at their mercy by the time the last note rung out. I was honored to be able to chat with Erik before the show and I must admit that despite all his street-tough posturing and in-your-face rants as a performer, he is one of the most humble and down to earth rockers I've ever met in my life. The big thing out all of the great metal music I heard this night was walking away knowing that The Project Independent Tour is simply killing it on all levels, putting it mountains above the rest in its literal uncanny ability to showcase 'best of the best' metal acts out of America's immensely competitive underground scene.
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