Kreator with Voivod at The Bottom Lounge
Band Photo: Evile (?)
Thrash is back. After dying off in the 1990s and returning in the mid-2000s it's finally returned, with four of five bands playing coming from metal's most headbangable genre. And it was a very special night given that two of the bands touring were originally local bands, one based in Kenosha, Wisconsin and the other from Wheaton, Illinois which proves that the Chicago metal scene has finally come into its own rather than simply live in the shadow of Ministry and Disturbed.
First up was Lazarus A.D. who were not only happy to be playing a hometown show but also said some of the most amusing stage banter that I ever heard, involving smoking beer and drinking weed. I'm not entirely sure how that works out but if I ever manage to encounter this band again, I'll be sure to ask them how they manage to smoke beer since I'm totally up for trying it.
Musically, Lazarus A.D. is one of the few newer thrash bands that currently moves the genre forward. Granted frequent breakdowns in thrash metal is something that was already done before a long time ago by Slayer but Lazarus A.D. manages to make their music not only sound original but have it stand out and be truly recognizable, something that I can't say about most newer thrash bands. The fact that they're from the Chicago area does nothing to influence my opinion given that there are a number of local bands who's music I completely despise. I genuinely recommend Lazarus A.D. to anyone who's into thrash but has been jaded by the sameness and unoriginality of newer thrash bands. If any band out today deserves to be called the future of thrash, it's Lazarus A.D.
Next up was Evile, and honestly, if it weren't for the fact that I had a tape recorder in my pocket, I would have gotten in the pit as Evile is the most brutal thrash band since Holy Moses. Playing at speeds up to 300 bpm, Evile is not only one of the most important bands in the thrash revival, but also one of the fastest bands that I've ever heard. They're the thrash band for listeners raised on Calculating Infinity and Alters of Madness, taking high speed playing to it's logical extreme with no mercy shown and no prisoners taken. They pick up where thrash left off in the early 90s, as death, black and groove metal began to gain popularity, without sounding dated in the least. But most importantly Evile represents the renaissance of Earache Records, who seemed to have faded away in the 2000s but are now making a comeback thanks to Evile and a few other great bands. I genuinely look forward to seeing Evile play again on their next tour with Overkill and Vader.
Next was the night's disappointment, Nachtmystium. Thanks in no small part to a new drummer who is apparently still learning the songs, the entire band was off time, with a loud scraping sound in the background as both guitarists and their bassist were all playing something completely different. I actually had to take out my earplugs to be able to hear what the hell was going on. Not only that but Blake didn't even give out a shout out to his hometown. Meanwhile Blake was looking that much more strung out than he did back on their tour with Marduk. Hopefully this was just an off night for Nachtmystium and not the beginning of the band's decline.
Up next was Voivod who have dethroned Municipal Waste as the most fun band that I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. Mostly playing old classics from the band's older albums like "Tornado" and "Ripping Headaches." I'm pretty sure that Snake was drunk at the time but it somehow improved the performance similar to what happened with Roddy Walker of Protest the Hero when I saw them back in 2008. Despite the lack of studio-bassist Jason Newstead (although original bassist Blackie was filling in for him) Voivod completely slayed and I'd expect nothing less from the band who gave birth to Killing Technology and Nothingface.
Finally, Kreator took to the stage. When most people think of thrash, they mostly think about what Kreator sounds like. Kreator is by far one of the most important thrash bands to have ever existed and a true force to be reckoned with live. In fact, Mille Petrozza is probably the only man to make a pajama shirt metal; given his credibility in the scene as well as his overacted, overly metal stage behavior that seems to be the man's trademark. But one moment that will always stay with me is the show's encore. After Mille's long speech about how to act at a Kreator concert for first-timers, it became time to shout the words "Flag of Hate" three times, each time with an long introduction before launching into the aforementioned thrash classic.
And finally, there was the final track for the night. Few experiences can compare shouting along to the lyrics of "Tormentor" while giving a blood curdling scream-along to the chorus. Being one of the best thrash songs of all time, it was finally a pleasure to hear it live. A short but sweet ending to a great show.
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