Scream The Prayer is a touring metal and hardcore festival of sorts, already in its fourth year, that packs the stage with bands that specialize in redefining what counts as a Christian worship service. The bands associated with the tour this year are as follows: Norma Jean, Sleeping Giant, The Chariot, War of Ages, Close Your Eyes, Texas In July, I The Breather, The Great Commission, As Hell Retreats, and Sovereign Strength. From beginning to end, each band worked towards bringing the word of God to the masses in the form of relentless heavy metal.
Regardless of your stance on religion, you have to commend these bands for their drive. On July 1st, I was on hand to catch the first date of this 2011 tour. More...
Fatigue had definitely begun to set in by Day Four. Through the beer belly, muscle ache (everyone’s hotel was up the hill), blown-out senses, and heat I thought could only happen in the south, I persevered though badly worn. The venue was getting pretty rough also. Everyone was tired, but still partying hard. Inside it was sticky and stinky like it had not been before. But that didn’t stop anyone from enjoying the rest of the great lineup on the last day of the mighty MDF.
Bright and early in the afternoon (although it seemed like night in the main room), hometown boys Visceral Disgorge began the festivities. They brought to mind the early works of death metal. Trauma and gore galore, this band encompassed the snarl inhaled low growls, din-destroying high tuned snare, gallop picking guitar done by Eric.
Bad acid Trip’s singer Dirk Rogers opening question to us was, “Is everyone drunk?,” and by just the sight of the crowd through the hours it was obvious that we all were. Crazed rock riffage and grindcore led this band to a energetic frenzy. Dirk was like Ian Curtis and Johnny Rotten; a twisted love child onstage. This band had true dynamic ranging from guttural blasts to hardcore breakdowns to strange, psychotic circus dementia. More...
After the grey and miserable weather the day before, it was nice to awake on the final day of Graspop and be greeted with plenty of sunshine. While that may not have been the most metal sentence I have ever written, the roster of bands on display may well have been the most extreme of the weekend.
Like the previous day, we wasted a little time in the campsite before heading into the main area to catch the second main stage band, in today's case, Canadian heavy metal heroes, Anvil. Of course, everyone knows the story of Anvil by now, and perhaps that's made this set such a special one. From the opening guitar shrieks of "March Of The Crabs/666" there were smiles all around, not least from frontman Steve "Lips" Kudrow. The fact that everyone could see how much fun the band were having made the fans enjoy it all the more, which I'm sure in turn only fueled the smiles on the faces of Anvil. It might seem a strange word to use to describe a performance from a metal band, but Anvil are a really fun live experience. It's impossible to watch them and not headbang or raise the horns. Kudrow's interaction with the crowd is simply great, not least because he doesn't patronise the audience with cliche lines like "Are you ready to party?" I was also impressed by his ability to perform his guitar duties flawlessly, while still singing. Drummer Rob Reiner and bassist Glenn Five also deserve alot of credit, as their skills were on full display today, particularly Reiner's during, "White Rhino." Having only a fairly short set, only three songs from the group's new album, "Juggernaut Of Justice" were performed today, namely the title track, "On Fire" and "New Orleans Voodoo," but they all went down well with the crowd, who did their best to sing along to the latter. Another highlight came during Kudrow's guitar solo, which he did by playing his axe with a vibrator. An unorthodox method, but effective. As one might expect, they closed their set with the anthemic, "Metal On Metal," which went down a treat for all viewing. While they may not be the greatest heavy metal band to ever grace the Earth, they might well be one of the most enjoyable and were a great way to start the day.
It was then over to Marquee 2 for a little crossover thrash from D.R.I. (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles.) There were plenty of old school thrashers in attendance for them, complete with upturned caps and white shoes, and they all seemed to enjoy what they were witnessing. As much as I've always liked the band and crossover in general, I found watching them for as long as I did to be a little much, as most songs follow a similar formula, resulting in the performance getting a little boring after a short while. It seems I was not alone in this opinion, as there were plenty who came in to watch, then left after a couple of songs. D.R.I. are, like Anvil, all about having fun, but they don't possess the same stage presence. Songs like "Snap/I'd Rather Be Sleeping" and "Asleep At The Wheel" are always good to hear, but they felt rather tame today. Perhaps it would be better to catch them in a small club setting, because they weren't able to make it work in the Marquee. More...
Being awoken by drunks at a festival is to be expected, being awoken by rain, was not. The second day of the Graspop Metal Meeting was considerably more dreary than the first when it came to weather, but just like the first day, there was still a fantastic lineup of metal to look forward to.
After deciding to stick around in the campsites for a little while, we headed into the main area to be greeted by the frustrating news that tonight's headliner, Ozzy Osbourne, has cancelled his performance due to laryngitis. Instead, second from top Judas Priest would be taking over the headlining position with an extended two hour set and Belgian metal veterans Channel Zero would be stepping in to fill the empty slot, bumping Whitesnake up the bill in the process.
Although we missed the first couple of bands on saturday, we arrived with plenty of time to catch the second band on the main stage, Italian gothic rockers Lacuna Coil. The band performed a solid set with material which focused mostly on their last three albums, "Comalies," "Karmacode" and "Shallow Life" and were on fine form. Although singer Cristina Scabbia receives much of the attention lavished on the band, her singing partner Andrea Ferro also deserves a huge amount of recognition, as both singers voices sounded absolutely perfect. The fans were clearly enjoying it too, otherwise they wouldn't have stayed throughout the entire set in the miserable weather, not just bearing the climate, but singing along and raising their hands too. Scabbia carried herself on stage with a real ballsy attitude, the kind that shows just how well women really can fit into rock and metal music, and was able to coax the crowd into singing as loud as they could for the Depeche Mode cover, "Enjoy The Silence." I must say there were a few songs I was hoping it would be included in the set that weren't, most notably, "Swamped," but nevertheless, they were still a captivating live spectacle and disappointed no-one.
It would then be a while before I was to catch another set in full, having only caught a few songs from Kylesa in one of the Marquees to avoid the rain and watching the first song from Greek power metal outfit Firewind before deciding it was time to eat. In any case, we made sure we were in Marquee 1 with plenty of time to spare to catch Triptykon, one of the main reasons I wanted to return to Graspop. Following their chilling, "Crucifixus" intro, the band broke into the Celtic Frost classic, "Procreation Of The Wicked." The song went down a storm but in all honesty, took some time to recognise as it has become a much slower and more doom metal laden affair than what is heard on the "Morbid Tales" album. It was truely a thrill to see Tom G. Warrior back on stage, displaying the dark intensity that has made him such a popular figure in metal music for almost three decades. He wasn't the only notable member of the band too, as Dark Fortress guitarist V. Santura was able to perform with total accuracy and bassist Vanja Slajh showed everyone that she has a mesmerising stage presence too. After "Procreation..." the band busted out one of their own tracks in the form of "Eparistera Daimones" opener, "Goetia," before heading back into more familiar territory with another Celtic Frost song, this time "Circle Of The Tyrants." Warrior thanked the fans afterwards, displaying the utmost sincerity and grattitude for the warm welcome the audience had given Triptykon, before launching into another Frost staple, "Babylon Fell." Only four songs into the set and it was time for the last, in this case, Triptykon's album closer, "The Prolonging." It takes some balls to perform a twenty minute song at a festival and it takes alot of musicianship and charisma to keep the crowd interested, which is exactly what they did. "The Prolonging" is clearly a song the group are very proud of, as performing it meant that they had to cut out other brilliant songs both of their own and the Frost catalogue. Having seen Celtic Frost before, I can say that seeing Triptykon is as close as one can get but with the added bonus of their own, outstanding material. I eagerly await seeing them again. More...
Another edition of Asia Metal Festival went off this past weekend in Seoul, South Korea, bringing together extreme metal bands from all parts of the metal spectrum hailing from the host nation, Japan, Taiwan, and the U.K.
Roughly 600 fans, largely from South Korea but also with a large ex-pat contingent from the U.S., Canada, and all over Europe, turned up for the event in raucous anticipation of headliner Napalm Death’s first appearance on Korean soil.
Seoul melodic death metal act Terrormight kicked off the evening, or rather late afternoon with the festival’s 4:30 start time. The five piece band took full advantage of their 25-minute time slot, showcasing their rich, early-era In Flames sound with a keyboardist adding some rich underlying textures. Many punters showed up early and were ready to expend some energy, head banging enthusiastically at the front of the stage at V Hall in the city’s Hongdae District, an area filled with restaurants, bars, and drunken revelers of all ages. More...
There is absolutely no question about it, if you want to go to a metal festival, go to a European one. Wacken Open Air and Download might well be the most famous, with the Sonisphere events gaining plenty of exposure too, but for my money, it just doesn't get any better than Graspop Metal Meeting, which takes place in a small town in Belgium called Dessel. This would be my third time attending the event, and more likely than not, it won't be the last.
The festival kicked off on Friday the 24th with a rather unusual choice of band, namely FM. The band features two former members of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal band, Samson but their style is much more album orientated rock than metal. Nevertheless, they proved to be a good way to start the festivities, opening with the song, "Wildside." As it was only half past eleven in the morning and the majority of the crowd had been up all night drinking and shouting, "TIMMY!" it took the audience a little while to get into the mood. In any case, they were still very appreciative of FM and perhaps the biggest response came when the band performed a cover of "Heard It Through The Grapevine," a song made famous by soul legend Marvin Gaye. Maybe it would have been better to start with something a little heavier, but either way, FM put in a solid performance and were warmly received.
After deciding to skip the first bands on the Marquees, we hung around the main stage to wait for the next band, Dio Disciples. I've always liked "Ripper" Owens and felt that he doesn't get the credit he deserves so the prospect of him singing Dio songs this afternoon seemed quite interesting. "Interesting" didn't quite cover Dio Disciples though, as when they took the stage, they instantly proved themselves to be an outstanding way to remember Ronnie James Dio. Owens was in top form for the performance, which opened with "Stand Up And Shout" before leading into the classic, "Holy Diver." Owens isn't the only vocalist in the band either, as he is joined by Little Angels singer Toby Jepson, who was just as impressive as Owens and whose voice was absolutely magnifficent. The group frequently got the crowd to cheer as loud as they could whenever Dio's name was mentioned and most importantly, they seemed to be genuine about what they were doing. Make no mistake, Dio Disciples are not a cash in, they are one of the most heartfelt tributes to anything you will ever see. If Dio could see his music living on like this, with two amazing vocalists leading the charge, he would be proud. More...
What really attracted me to this show, in addition to the prospect of multiple interviews, was the sheer diversity of the tour package. It was assembled as a promotional tour by Victory Records to showcase some of their big and emerging rock/metal acts, and early on, I’d gathered from a mere glance at the bill that every band would sound substantially different. As it turns out, that wasn’t the half of it.
Happy coincidence placed me in the great state of Virginia, on my annual pilgrimage to my childhood roots, when Otep & Co. stopped at Jaxx in Springfield. I hadn’t been to Jaxx in eight years, so this show was more or less an extension of my nostalgic long-weekend romp through my past. To boot, Saturday, June 18th was beautiful and sunny, and the late afternoon and evening were shaping up to be quite pleasant too. I arrived early with my brother, wingman, and fellow metal fan Will “Fresh Prince” Smith as the line outside the door was beginning to form, and in due time, we’d knocked out a pair of killer interviews with Paul Ablaze and Ari Mihalopoulos – devoted fitness freaks and smiling frontmen for support acts Blackguard and Destrophy, respectively. Unfortunately, Otep herself was battling a sore throat, and her diplomatic tour manager Tristan was forced to cancel my planned interview so she could save her voice for that night’s performance. On the upside, I was promised a chance to make it up via telephone, and our names remained on the guest list.
While Jaxx hosts innumerable high-profile metal acts, it is not a large club – the capacity is considerably less than 1,000. That occasionally makes for a tight squeeze, but the atmosphere is pretty cozy and the layout is comfortably symmetrical. The small box office lobby at the venue’s rear corner leads to an open, dimly lit space with a long bar, flanked by two narrow corridors (along with two pairs of restrooms) that open up into the venue proper. At this point, you’ll find yourself standing on a raised platform that rings the stage in a horseshoe, with another bar in the center rear, and space for merch tables along the sides. Pretty standard, but streamlined and efficient. I enjoyed taking it all in and soaking up the lingering memories from my high school days, back before I could legally order a drink… That reminded me to get my ass to the bar and christen it. More...
The ninth annual edition of the Maryland Deathfest has grown into a four day affair, spanning Thursday night, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Despite a last minute scare with Sonar possibly closing down, the even took place at Sonar, with the outdoor stages at either end of a closed off Saratoga Street.
This year, Metalunderground.com writer Emily Hingle (aka Buick McKane) was on hand for the entire festival (you can read her reports from day 1 and day 2) and Doug Gibson (aka deathbringer) was present on Saturday.
After an adventurous drive around the venue a few times trying to figure out how to reach the parking lot with Saratoga Street closed off, I finally arrived in time to see Creative Waste’s set. Sonar is a dark venue at any time, but entering from the afternoon sunlight, it seemed pitch black and took a few minutes to adjust.
Creative Waste took the stage and their sound was painfully loud. And they’re only a three-piece band, with a vocalist, guitarist and drummer - no bassist. The Saudi band described themselves as grindcore, but sounded more like a very hardcore influenced brand of metal. The music wasn’t my thing and the excessive volume that was not pleasant even with ear plugs sealed the deal for me.
Mammoth Grinder took the stage next, and I didn’t recognize them at first. The first few songs sounded a bit thin and reminded me of Prong, who while I enjoy, always had a weaker sound as a 3-piece. A few songs into their set, things got heavier and thrashier, evoking thoughts of Slayer. Then I recognized them as the band I saw at SXSW earlier this year. The remainder of their set was fast and heavy and made Mammoth Grinder the best band I witnessed on the inside stage that day. More...
A rush of cool air relieved my over-taxed pores when I entered Jackalopes. I walked past a girl wearing a Danzig shirt posing for a picture on top of a statue of a giant jackrabbit with horns—the fabled Jackalope. I not only sought shelter from the one-hundred-three-degree inferno that blazed outside, it helped me kill time before Emo’s opened its door a hour-and-a-half later.
While devouring one of the juiciest burgers in town, I noticed other metal heads wearing various death metal shirts entering the establishment. Located just a couple of blocks from the venue, the metal-friendly bar and grill catered to those awaiting the coming death metal onslaught.
In route to the bar, I noticed one of the more conspicuous fans on the other side of the street. Wearing corpse paint that may have been patterned from an old Satyricon or Gorgoroth photo, this fan’s black attire seemed in defiance of the sun’s powerful rays. I guess nobody told this guy he was going to a death metal show. Also, the heat surely streaked his makeup, most likely stinging his eyes. What he lacked in brains he made up for in dedication, though (even though this was a death metal show).
Three or four people stood near the touring vans outside the venue when I walked past Emo’s at around 6:30. The line grew to the front of the next venue when I returned at 7:30. Soon, the line grew to the end of the block—a good sign for the five bands due on stage. The venue opened close to its scheduled time of 8 PM. More...
On Day Two, the scene had changed. The street in front of the club had been shut down and made into the fest grounds. One stage was at each end of the street, just over the length of the building. I won’t say that the festival had a lot of space; we were kind of worried about bands overlapping and drowning out each other’s sound. But the rigs for each stage were so loud that that would prove impossible. Vendors also lined up between the two stages selling boxes of vinyl, CDs, and even some cassettes. There were t-shirts galore with hideous pictures and illegible logos. I was really amused by the black metal face-painting stand where you could choose from KISS, Immortal, King Diamond, and your other favorite corpse-painted rockers. Inside Sonar was a new merch room that was so constantly crowded and oddly arranged, it kind of looked like a beggar’s village with really cool wares for sale. With so much drink, food, merchandise from every band in existence, and amazing live shows all day long, you couldn’t ask for more. More...
I’ve only heard half-remembered memories about this festival. I really had no idea what to expect about the stage lay-out, the area of town, the people, or the bar situation. As I walked down the hill to Sonar, I gradually saw the small bunch of metalheads walking in to see the first band Witchaven. I entered the main hall and followed the crude, hand-written signs explaining where the stage was in the dark, labyrinthine building. Entering into the main room for the first time was like stepping into a metal dream; coming from the hot, sunny outdoors to a cold, pitch black massive room with seemingly no end and seeing an awesome band already in progress with ultra bright flashing lights interrupting your vision and furthering the illusion of this chamber. More...
Death metal pioneers, Autopsy have made only a couple of festival appearances since their reformation in 2010. From 1995 to last year, ravenous gore fiends could receive Autopsy’s filthy sounds and images only through proxy groups containing Autopsy members such as The Ravenous and Abscess. With the release of “Macabre Eternal,” the group made another festival appearance for this year (the only appearance at this time) at one of the word’s biggest punk music festivals, Chaos in Tejas.
Yet another multi-venue festival in Austin, Texas, Chaos in Tejas celebrates punk in all its various forms. 130 bands including Cro-Mags, Doom, Killing Joke, Converge, Hooded Menace, Lärm, The Gates of Slumber and Orange Goblin performed in the festival’s seventh installment. Although not all acts were punk oriented, punk and its offspring of “core” acts were most numerous. Autopsy’s affection for grind fit well with the precluded power violence and core-grounded acts.
With a bill including bands unfamiliar to many fans of Autopsy, a $35-dollar entrance fee, and Autopsy’s prolonged absence; I assumed this show would have a small turnout. Just like SXSW in March, Chaos in Tejas venues swell to capacity. Every square inch of the venue’s outdoor stage and smoking patio was filled with raggedy-patched punks and longhairs. Maneuvering through the outskirts of the pit area proved difficult enough, but finding a place up front to take pictures proved near impossible.
Shooting the first band of the night means feeling out the crowd. I’m always a bit timid during the first shoot and my photos of Iron Lung reflect an unsuccessful trial run. The lack of personal space was bad enough, but crowd surfers and stage divers made photo positioning near impossible, at least at first. I became bolder with later sets by shoving my way through the crowd, using karate stances to maintain a base when the crowd became especially raucous and tending to my camera instead of providing a hand
or head for stage divers to land.
Iron Lung’s style defines the term power violence. The two-man group alternated blistering grind and crossover with sludgy, down tempo passages. Their singer’s tough hardcore vocal approach wasn’t to this writer’s liking, but their energy made a big impression, although without the same rousing effect as what the audience felt. I had never seen a band or show incite so much rowdiness. In addition to stage diving that I rarely witness at metal show (I believe the last one was Testament in 1995), I witnessed a guy hanging from the rafters like a god damn monkey.
Innumerable Forms was the only death metal band of the evening. The Massachusetts band played slow and heavy with reverence to iron boot sloshers Incantation, Grave and of course, Autopsy. IF only recorded one EP, so I’m not sure what material they used to fill their set. Their live sound was not as raw as their recording, which allowed a greater sense of audibility. Kudos goes to their singer for wearing a Paradise Lost long sleeve. He represented a depressive style mostly, if not fully, overlooked at this show.
After IF’s pace coagulated the blood of its onlookers, Extortion’s blitzkrieg attack was like a Bunsen burner to the crowds’ veins. Not much information exists about this aussie band’s origins on the Net, but apparently they’ve made a considerable sized dent into the world-wide punk scene because I heard many people say they were there to see the group…and the crowd went wild (phrase of the night). The group’s energy had much to do with the crowds’ reaction. Each song contained a million notes, but lasted only seconds. These kinds of songs offer little in terms of hooks and melody, but the band’s quick bass lines brought something to remember.
Taking the stage right before Autopsy, Citizens Arrest marked a good time to retreat from the heat before Autopsy’s onslaught. The NYC band played typical NYC hardcore with meaty, ringing chords and punk sensibilities. They occasionally played a catchy groove, but most of their sound owed to music typical to this style. Citizens Arrest was the closest band of the night to bearing to typical hardcore, and in that regard, were the least interesting artist of the night. More...
One of Germany’s Big Three thrash bands, Destruction, once again brought its unique brand of thrash/speed metal back to San Antonio, Texas. With nearly 30 years under their bulleted belts, the Teutonic veterans hoped their longevity and legendary cult status would result in a massive gathering of denim-n-leather-gauntlet-fisted bangers.
This would not be the case, though. Even an impressive array of suitable acts that included the return of second-wave Cali Bay thrashers Heathen, the Texas thrash collective Warbeast, German black thrashers Nocturnal and more thrash in Witchhaven failed to bring in the masses on this Tuesday night. However, the dismal turn out did not stop the small-but-loyal crowd from acting like complete maniacs.
What might turn out to be the best thrash tour of the year encountered problems at its Central Texas stop a couple weeks before the event. Originally slated to appear at the Dirty Dog in Austin, the show moved to Backstage Live in San Antonio. Austinites complained about the drive, the lack of quality beer and parking fees. Many from the area with plans of attending the Austin show didn’t make the trek to SA. Those close to the promoter, Motorbreath Entertainment, stated that Austin would have resulted in an even poorer turnout. San Antonio is a bigger city and supposedly, the metal capital of the world, but it didn’t live up to its name on this night. More...
"The Hypersleep Dialogues Trek" tour tore its way through North America and part of Canada over the course of a month, moving counter-clockwise from New York and ends up in Asheville, North Carolina tonight. As the name shows, Between The Buried and Me was supporting their new album, "The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues," and they brought a solid lineup to Nashville with them – Job For A Cowboy and The Ocean. On their stop through Rocketown on Friday, May 13th, the bands played to a familiar crowd. Three years earlier, Between The Buried and Me had recorded their show here at Rocketown and released it as a live CD/DVD package – "Colors Live."
As the line snaked around the large venue, funneling in for about an hour, you could overhear discussions about the rarity of bands like Between the Buried and Me, Opeth, and others who "could do whatever they wanted, and I’d always love ‘em." More...
The last “An Evening with...” tour that I saw was Metallica’s arena tour in the early ‘90s, which happened to be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It’s a great concept that I’m surprised more bands don’t try. I was happy to hear that Amon Amarth was putting on such a tour. Playing their latest album in its entirety for the first half of their set, followed by a complete set of other material was the perfect choice, seeing how great “Surtur Rising” is.
This is the story of why I left a metal show early for the first time in my life.
While I’m not a serial show-goer, I have easily been to dozens, if not over a hundred, metal shows since my metal-loving life got going back in the mid-1990s, and I have always had a rule that I followed more closely than the ins and outs of “Debbie Does Dallas” – don’t leave early. Even if I was tired, drunk, pissed or the band(s) sucked, I stayed until the house lights came on and the roadies started taking the drum kit apart. Well, tonight, I broke that rule. Why? Read on… More...
It is without a doubt that the hype and anticipation around the first ever headlining performance from Between the Buried and Me in Vancouver was huge. Having appeared in the city twice before as an opening act, playing only 2 songs in its first appearance and 3 songs the next, the BTBAM faithful were lined up two blocks deep outside the city's Rickshaw Theater hours before showtime, to catch a well deserved full length set. Although being the headline act the attention would soon be taken away from them by five guys from Germany, who would show Vancouver how live metal should be done. More...
Nothing spices up a shitty, rainy afternoon like a good, old-fashioned metal show. And it’s even better when said daytime metal show includes some bonafide rock stars kicking complete ass in an intimate venue.
That’s just what unfolded in the dank, dark confines of Church in the shadows of Boston’s Fenway Park this past Saturday when Brian Fair of Shadows Fall and Mike D’Antonio of Killswitch Engage shattered the day’s doldrums with an hour of thrashy punk with their new side project Death Ray Vision.
The pair of old friends, joined by KsE/Seemless guitarist Pete Cortese, Cannae drummer Colin Conway and newcomer Zack Wells also on guitar, unveiled the new band a couple weeks ago at the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival in Worcester, Mass.
But this was their first show in Boston and it was a throwback to the all-ages union hall shows where the band members started out. They chose heavily from their newly-released EP “Get Lost or Get Dead,” ripping through “Shatter Frames,” “Get Lost” and the punishing hardcore romp, “Not for Glory.” More...
Without a doubt, Discharge was one of the most important bands in the history of British punk rock music. The band, along with The Exploited and (Charged) G.B.H. ushered in a new era in the scene, spouting pacifist beliefs, calling for the disarmament of nuclear weapons and criticizing the evils of capitalism. Discharge also was able to mix metal with punk in an excellent fashion and has been an influence on many metal bands including Metallica, Celtic Frost, and Onslaught. So with this in mind, the discovery that Discharge would be performing in Swindon seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.
Discharge was joined by two supporting acts on the evening, the first being Bastard! Rats!, who was able to entertain the small audience with a catchy brand of punk rock, utilized in a similar fashion to The Clash with a hint of the pop punk bands of the 90's such as Green Day, though with a much more aggressive tone than the latter. A set of around thirty minutes seemed just about right for the group, who, while not being able to garner a massive response from the few in the audience, certainly did well enough to win over a few converts.
Next up was Diablo 13. A slightly larger number of people were able to witness the locals, who perform a perfect mixture of hardcore punk with a country music influence, though the country stylings seemed to be showing less on the evening, the band instead opting to perform their more jagged material. Frontman Marky C is truly a sight to behold, as he absorbs himself so much in the group's music that he appears to be lost in a world of his own, allowing him to be one of the most expressive frontmen in the local scene. He clearly believes in the music, as do the rest of the band, who perform with a tight fashion but are clearly having fun while they play. It took a little while but eventually they were able to get a few old punks away from the bar and on to the dance floor, where the energy of the set was being met well.
Finally came the turn of the headlining legends Discharge. Despite the sparse crowd, the band was able to unleash an astonishingly ferocious set, providing an excellent mix of old punk material with the act's more recent crossover thrash metal catalogue. Newer songs such as "Hell Is War" and "The Beginning Of The End" are set upon the audience like the violent sonic onslaught they were designed to be and performed with the energy of young speed freaks, let alone a band which has been going for more than thirty years. Lead vocalist Ant Cimex has only been in the group for around a year but he fits in brilliantly, sporting a perfect mohawk and barking out Discharge classics old and new like a rabid dog. Likewise, the rest of the band are on top form too, with bass being handled in a precise manner, while the distorted guitar sounds are able to create a chaotic but fine crafted sound. All in all, it was a magnificent display from one of British punk and crossover's most seminal bands, and with the current British political climate being what it is, their music is becoming more and more relevant to the youth of today with every passing week. It's good to know that some bands never sell out or pigeon hole themselves and Discharge certainly show no signs of these changes, or compromise of any kind, in the near future.
Exhorder and Rigor Mortis reunited to drive a metal stake into the heart of Texas. Both bands haven’t released a proper album in two decades, split up in the ‘90s and reunited (Exhorder in 2008, Rigor Mortis in 2005) to play select live shows. Rigor Mortis occasionally makes the three-plus-hour drive south to play Austin, but this performance was the first in 19 years for Exhorder. If not for promoters Motorbreath Entertainment, most in attendance would still be virgins to Exhorder’s “Anal Lust.”
Before Exhorder made its glorious return, local acts The Blood Royale, Hod and Dead Earth Politics took the stage. The Blood Royale opened the show with a crusty mix of old hardcore, grind, thrash and punk. Featuring JT of stoner rockers Dixie Witch, the band bombed the crowd with a furious attack of D-beats. During the group’s sound check, Exhorder vocalist Kyle Thomas told me they sounded good. I nodded and said they remind me of Motorhead. Guitarist/vocalist Timmo had a definite, Lemmy-type scruff in his voice.
Since forming in 2006, Hod has overcome band changes and come together as a cohesive unit. Decked out in black jeans and black leather vests, the group held their instruments like swords and shields, eagerly awaited front man Beer Reeb’s battle charge: “We are Hod and we play fucking metal.” Once he gave the signal, much metal playing ensued. The members' hair swirled in unison to the death/black/thrash/speed witches brew that one can only categorize as metal. I formerly described their music as a mix of Marduk and Morbid Angel. While those influences are still apparent, newer songs “Beware the Death Horse,” “In the Den of Wolves” and “Beneath the Mountain of the Scorpions” offer a greater range of sounds. Check these guys out on their tour supporting Marduk.
Dead Earth Politics played loud and aggressive. Their take on the groove metal sound proved a good choice to open for Exhorder. I can’t provide many details about their set because I was socializing at the time. Rigor Mortis and Exhorder gave them a big thumb up, though, and Rigor Mortis said they were friends with the band.
The crowd greeted Texas thrash legends, Rigor Mortis with banging heads, pumping fists and the occasional flaying knee and elbow. Singer Bruce Corbitt stalked the stage like one of the many serial killers described in his gore-strewn lyrics. His yelled vocals possessed a crossover flare reminiscent of Kurt Brecht of D.R.I. The group’s use of only one guitarist outlined Corey Orr’s punky bass lines and Mike Scaccia’s wild guitar solos.
Corbitt held his custom chain-link microphone stand out to the crowd to help sing infectious chorus lines from cuts like “Re-Animator” and “Die in Pain.” The group showcased more material from the self-title debut such as “Demons” and “Slow Death.” During “Slow Death,” Corbitt looked at the crowd with hateful lust during the lyric “I have this knife/It's a good knife.” The group played “Cattle Mutilation” from their “Freaks” EP and launched into two new tracks “Bloodbath” and “The Infected.” These tracks will not disappoint the Rigor Mortis fans who have waited 20 years for a new album. The new material could have blended in with any of the horror thrash Rigor Mortis played in the late ‘80s that made a large impact on death metal.
Earlier in the evening, Kyle Thomas complained of an ache in his knee while we ascended the hard metal staircase to the green room for an interview. He said his knee hurt because he thought he could do things on stage that he did 20-years ago. Exhorder looks much older than they did on You Tube videos from their “The Law” tour, but the group was still full of energy and they played to perfection.
Kyle Thomas’ regular, tough voice was in perfect condition. The only time he seemed to falter was during a long scream, which he briefly lost but regained. Jorge Caicedo silently counted each beat and hit every note. Even though this was only his second show, he knew the material well. Earlier in the show, he had expressed his desire to be a permanent member of Exhorder. Caicedo replaced Frankie Sparcello who unexpectedly died before the tour. His performance, hard work and cool demeanor should play in his favor.
A large photo of Sparcello held in easel provided a way, as Kyle Thomas put it, for the band to take Sparcello on the road and as a memento for his fans and band members. Bands throughout the night gave their condolences, but the grief of his passing faded when Exhorder launched into their material. The group opened their set with “Death in Vain” and “Homicide,” two fast numbers from the “Slaughter in the Vatican” album. Vinnie LaBella and Jay Ceravolo picked their guitars with the wrist-tearing speed displayed by Dark Angel and Slayer. Then, Thomas and bunch launched into material from “The Law.”
The chugging groove found on this album has led to a million conversations and arguments about Pantera plagiarizing Exhorder’s style. Whether they did or not, I’m not going to rehash these ideas, one listen to the album will bring to light similarities. “I am the Cross” and the title track enthralled the crowd to a slow-but-bruising swagger. My personal favorite “(Cadence of) The Dirge” was the musical embodiment of all that is Exhorder. This track tempered groove with speed and even epic doom metal movements.
Having once played in Trouble and with Floodgate, tattooed with the Trouble logo on his arm and wearing a St. Vitus wristband, it is safe to say Thomas likes doom metal. Exhorder did the gods of gloom and doom, Black Sabbath, proud with their rendition of “Into the Void.” The crowd received this cover with added energy. Immediately after jamming the Sab, Exhorder played another cover. This time, they brought out Austin local (transplant) Billy Milano to sing his S.O.D. song “United Force.” By the now, the crowd had gone complete ape shit. Billy, Kyle, Vinnie and the bunch embraced as friends while shouting the song’s title.
Before the crowd did the “Milano Mosh,” Seth Davis displayed his drumming genius in a five-minute solo. Davis regularly teaches drum clinics, releases instructional videos and was once dubbed “The World’s Fastest Drummer.” Starting with a short kick-drum beat, Davis built momentum until all of his appendages were firing rapid, multiple beats. He switched his sticks from side to side while the crowd stood in agog. This solo was not only entertaining, but also it allowed the guitarists time to switch instruments. Both guitarists took over the bass for a couple of tracks Caicedo was still learning, but before the solo, these changes ate up some of Exhorder’s set time.
About midway through their set, Kyle Thomas brought out a football. He asked the crowd if they had ever played “skankball.” This sport was a bit like rugby. He threw the ball into the crowd and whoever could hang onto it and bring it to him would get a free prize from the merch table. Nobody was hurt in the mad scramble and one dude even retained the ball. I wonder what award they gave him.
Exhorder closed their set in the same fashion as they opened it—with swift, neck-wrecking numbers from “Slaughter in the Vatican.” Thomas introduced “Slaughter in the Vatican” by stating that track really got him into trouble back in high school. The level of blasphemy did not hit home until one of his friends from the crowd told me he went to a Catholic school. The title of set closer “Anal Lust” was somehow even more insulting than the Pope murdering scenario of the previous song.
Those who attended this show have used many expressions to describe this special concert. Billy Milano’s guest spot, a rare Exhorder performance, Exhorder coming to town not frayed by the passing of their good friend and band member, a set list of classic thrash tunes by two under recognized forces in the thrash community and killer local acts are all ammo to fire at your Central Texas metal friends who stayed home that evening.
Go here to view photos of the show.