Others have commented on how far six and a half years takes you: from not selling out a converted Pizza Hut in Haverhill to getting your gig moved into, and nearly filling, the biggest indoor room for extreme music in New England. Between that day and this one, we've had the internet go to ubiquity, the thrash revival start and come to flower, and probably more importantly, six seriously worthy records from the bands at the top of the bill. Not everyone who bought their first Kreator gear here and immediately pulled it on will go on, half a decade hence, to be among us old crusty misanthropes dividing the world between Sounds Like Kreator and Garbage, but some will, and if these gigs continue to bring in both the young and those who'll become the old at a consistent rate, metal is going to be ok.
With an intro like this, you get the impression that this was a pretty damned epic concert, and yes, you would be right on that one.
As is usual for Palladium shows, I left directly from work, strapping my brace on before I left the building. Traffic on the Pike was garbage, with rain starting soon after I cleared 495, and getting heavier as I moved further inland. Coming in about half an hour after doors, I was moderately surprised to see Epicurean already well into their set, but this would have positive rather than negative consequences for the rest of the evening.
I took a few moments after coming in to listen to these guys; if they were real good, I would go forward and listen to them now, then do merch later. I got a beer, then somewhat leisurely browsed the merch tables, but did get down for about the last half of their set, which seemed to run on longer (probably going into what would under normal circumstances have been Warbringer's time) than the band's performance might warrant. They were pretty good, sort of a NWOSDM/prog hybrid that you might get by crossing Into Eternity and Shadows Fall, but the music never left that "pretty good" level, and for whatever reason they had a fair amount of synths on playback. I hadn't seen them before, but apparently the last time they were around, they had a live keyboardist. Epicurean were pretty decent as openers go, but on their own I'd be wary of seeing them anywhere bigger than O'Brien's.
In contrast to some other big shows downstairs lately, merch prices were eminently reasonable, with nearly all shirts at $20. I wouldn't read too much into this in regards bands bowing to recessionary pressures or acknowledging the younger audience; Exodus, as their tour dates on this run show, are about as super-underground as a big band can get, and Mille is kind of an anarcho-socialist, to whom normal economic math may not make moral sense.
I'll have to withhold judgement until later as to whether I've seen Warbringer yet. This was a good performance running down basically exactly the same kind of Exodus-leaning Bay Area thrash as found on War Without End, but it was also a short one, necessitated by the fact that their normal drummer had broken a bone in his arm a few days prior, and they had only a few days to start rehearsing with and teaching songs to the drummer from Epicurean, who was sitting in. This made for about a four-song set, but it was a good four songs, and they did manage to get a new one in. As regards the new record, from this limited sample, it sounds like anyone who liked the first record will dig the second, as there does not appear to be a lot of material change.
The original plan was to dodge the hordes by going down front only after Warbringer due to expected audience flux between them and Belphegor. As it turned out, the floor did not start filling in until that point, so I was able to freely come and go from the rail up until when Belphegor started.
I'll have to check, but I'm not sure that I've seen Belphegor before either; I missed them several times on several previous tours, and as a result seem to have missed out on the period where Anthony (ex-Zircon) was playing second guitar live for them. (I did see him in the audience for their set, though...and if they've got any sense of decency, he was on the list.) This was a shortish but high-quality set of death-black metal that should probably be reckoned a "low 6"; I'd feel more confident about marking them at this level if they had gone on a little longer, but I, and I expect nearly everyone in the hall, would be willing to take slightly less good Belphegor in exchange for more truly excellent Exodus and Kreator.
I picked up Belphegor's new record, Bondage Goat Zombie (talk about your RttP title generator...) from the band along with a patch that I now have to put somewhere, and on later inspection, found a writing credit for someone called "Pagan Megan". If this is the person that the Northeast thinks it is, there is a dramabomb planted somewhere and waiting to go off. If you know why this intersection might lead to ridiculous internet drama, get your popcorn and image macros ready; if not, just go on with your life, it's probably better to ignore this. Support Music, Not Rumors.
As mentioned above, I made sure to equip my leg brace before going down for this one. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough -- not because I got hurt or anything, but because "Piranha" is still too fucking good to have to stay in one place because you can't afford major joint damage because Kreator is next and you have to bend yourself up to get in your damn car after that. Exodus kicked extreme ass, putting up a better show than the last time I saw them in this building -- which was at Metalfest, so any set longer than 30 minutes would automatically become better -- and probably better than when I heard them at Wacken this summer -- and while the pit was, as expected, fucking bananas all the way around, nobody was beating me about the head and shoulders with a shoe at any point during the performance. The single notable break in the thrash avalanche came when Rob went backstage and brought out a cake for Tom Hunting's birthday (yes, he's back in, so Exodus is no longer at zero original members), and Gary jammed through "Happy Birthday" for the audience to bellow along with. Other than that, yeah, continuous circle pits and a wall of death on "Strike of the Beast" that was hell of fun catching. If this had been the headline set, I don't think that anyone would have minded, except for the part where it was only about an hour long. Still fucking killer.
While standing around between them and Kreator, still burning out excess energy, I encountered Eric from CSDO, flyering for his band (and if you're going to advertise CSDO, you could hardly find a more receptive audience than the people standing around after Exodus because they want to see Kreator at as close range as possible), and Alex from Razormaze, who thanked me for writing them up favorably in an old number of this record. We'll see if I manage to make it down to any of the matinee-and-night Robinapalooza they're playing at O'Brien's today; if you've got working feet and fewer family commitments, though, get the hell over.
As alluded above, my first time seeing Kreator indoors, and for me even as much as for those who don't even know that Club 125 ever existed, a hell of a way to start. We got the standout material (ok, modulo "Demon Prince") from the new record woven cleanly into highlights from the band's last 25 or so years, and fitting perfectly in beside them. While Hordes of Chaos isn't as good as Enemy of God, it's still a good D-thrash record, and it shows this most clearly by transferring exactly into the live setting. This wasn't a quirky a set as I saw at Wacken, or clinically perfect either ("Voices of the Dead" was done better both times I've seen the band before, but the dudes around me were just pumped that the band played it, so all was good), but it was a Kreator set, complete with high execution, lighting effects to knock your skull in, and ferocious floor movement that benefited from having more space than Exodus did, even if exhaustion was starting to cut into the crowd's vigor. I've got a bad sample space of Kreator shows for comparison; this is tied for second out of three for me, but for normal people, this is likely to be the best set they've seen from the band and may well stay that way for a while.
After it became apparent that they weren't going to do another encore, I went up and dropped my last dollar on the merch stand; they were out of the At the Pulse of Kapitulation shirts, which have a hellishly awesome design, but I was able to score a Live Kreation number before they ran out of those. I also bumped into Dave (ex-Summoning Hate), and asked him about his separation from said band; he quit, which is better than getting kicked, but I didn't go into particulars, as band business should stay band-internal rather than having some yob come and pry about it.
Homeward bound, things were simple: having barely the money left to do tolls, I didn't stop, and as a result got home a little after 2, gunned a glass of water to make up for the fluid volume I'd lost by thrashing and not drinking, and sacked out to start the recuperation process. I'm in functioning form now, but probably won't be hitting any gigs until Thursday, warming up for the NEMBVF (New England Metal Blade and Victory Festival, lolz) with Metal Blade Recording Artists Ravage (I'm not sure, but I think that's how we have to refer to the band now) at Metal Thursday (not yet sponsored by Metal Blade), then sticking in Worcester for Friday and Saturday. We'll see how synchronously the reports on those come in; I may have to work on Friday morning, which would give me a little time to write, but thrashing's of course going to be a higher priority.