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Havok, Goatwhore, And Exhumed Execute Well in Chicago Tour Stop

Photo of Havok

Band Photo: Havok (?)

Everyone has gaps in their experience, even with things they love. I, for example, have never seen "Caddyshack," despite enjoying comedy films. So when the call came from HQ for me to cover the MetalUnderground.com sponsored North American tour of Exhumed, Goatwhore, and Havok, I was a little thrown – who were these bands and what did they play?

I knew a little of Goatwhore from various heavy metal publications, and Havok had been getting some good pub on MetalUnderground.com recently, but I knew little of their music. And Exhumed, a goregrind band from Northern California, had been completely off my radar up until now, as grind isn’t my bag. But I figured this was a good shot for completely unbiased show viewing. So I pulled on my man-pants, grabbed my helmet, and did this thing.

Local Chicago outfit Hunters starter the evening off well. Already into their set when I arrived, their blend of classic metal is something I wouldn’t mind coming across again. Energetic and precise, Hunters played well, and the (at that time) sparse crowd appreciated the effort, as did I.

Havok, who for stylistic reasons was the band I was most excited to see, was next. Combining plenty of Slayer and Metallica with healthy doses of Exodus, Testament and Megadeth for a spicy touch, Havok plays both a backward-looking and forward-thinking style of thrash. They have plenty of what we love about old school Bay Area Thrash (riffs, solos and melody all enticingly mixed together), but this is more than just fan boys aping their heroes – the songs have some meat y bits to dig into. The riff interplay between David Sanchez and Reece Scruggs was deft, and Pete Webber’s drums added much more than a straight-counted whacking – too bad Havok’s 30 minute set doesn’t allow for a drum solo. The handful of die-hard Havok fans in attendance led the rest of the crowd in “response noise appreciation” and beefy, if infrequent, pits. Closing song and total thrash romp “Afterburner” was the clear winner, and was introduced with a deadpanned bit about “no karate in the pit.” Fun!

Goatwhore is a blackened death metal band that leans thrash. This combination plays very well to current metal audiences, as it is “troo” and heavy, isn’t trendy (even though it is plenty trendy), and has enough variation not to be four guys playing as one blender. The slick tempo shifts, like on “Leading the Legions of Hell,” threw the moshers for a loop each time, but they quickly picked it up again. The track from Goatwhore’s upcoming album – which I scribbled in my notebook but can’t read now – got a good reaction, as did set closer “Apocalyptic Hammer.” Since my knowledge of Goatwhore is limited to the handful of songs I streamed on MySpace earlier that day, they could have been interchanged with any number of blackened death bands without me knowing, but my guess is everyone else there disagreed with that sentiment, and instead expressed their views with big pits, big roars and big headbanging. Brutal!

By the time Exhumed came onstage I was exhausted (for personal reasons - not much sleep lately), and like I mentioned before, grind isn’t my thing. But if I had to go see a grind band that wasn’t Brutal Truth (I hear they are pretty good), Exhumed would be a good choice. Exhumed managed to pack a full 18 songs into a 60 minute set (gotta love grind that way), and the crowd was into every single one. While the pit wasn’t constant, it was on way more than it was off, and anyone that didn’t have the clankers to mosh wished they did, because this was fast, heavy and neck-snapping stuff. Leader Matt Harvey was in fine fettle, playing his guitar and vocal chords like a chimp makes love (fast, messy and oh-so-good), while drummer Danny Walker one-upped Havok’s Webber with his very own drum solo. Building up to crowd pleasers “Open the Abscess” and Decrepit Cresendo” then returning for a two-song encore, Exhumed earned their headlining spot by working the crowd into a grind frenzy, and this appreciation is from a guy that was A) exhausted and B) not into grind. Goregrind!

So ultimately I am telling you to go see this show - three topnotch touring bands plying their trade in three different genres are coming to your town for a nice evening of heavy metal. You get skill, quality and diversity, all at once. What else do you need?

Remaining Exhumed/Goatwhore/Havok Tour Dates

11/09/2011 Europa Brooklyn, NY
11/10/2011 Championships Trenton, NJ
11/11/2011 Mojo 13 Wilmington, DE
11/12/2011 Sonar Baltimore, MD
11/13/2011 The Casbah at Tremont Music Hall – Charlotte, NC
11/14/2011 Masquerade Atlanta, GA
11/15/2011 The Brass Mug Tampa, FL
11/17/2011 Siberia New Orleans, LA
11/18/2011 Korova/Goregrowler’s Ball – San Antonio, TX w/ Suffocation
11/19/2011 The Juggernaut Gallup, NM (without Goatwhore)
11/20/2011 Orpheum Theatre Flagstaff, AZ (without Goatwhore)

bloodofheroes's avatar

Joel is indebted to his high school friend Joe B. for giving him "Kill 'Em All," "Ride the Lightning" and "Master of Puppets" for his 16th birthday. Now that he works from home for his day job at a small ad agency in Chicago, he can play those albums, and Meshuggah, as much as he wants.

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