Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Exodus with Malevolent Creation, Holy Grail, Bonded By Blood, and Lich King [Worcester Palladium, 8/27/2010]

Because the Proclamation/Black Witchery tour was cancelled, this was the first show after getting back from Europe. I could have made it in, technically, to the all-local gig at Great Scott that replaced it, but I was still recovering from the time change. For this gig, though, I came off call and headed straight out, because at least the headliners were guaranteed to be good, and there's at least as much to be optimistic about the thrash revival, in general, as there is to be skeptical.

There was a lineup out in front, even though I didn't get there till right about doors. Hooray conflicting sources. Not so bad, though; even though it's not legal to stand around and skull half-liter cans on the sidewalk in this country, I got some time to decompress, see dudes from the touring bands ambling around to and from the buses, and wonder whether that was soy sauce or blood gumming up the bottom of my pant leg...not that I could remember dropping either on it.

Finally, inside, and the Palladium has finally given in and is doing $4 pint cans of PBR in addition to the criminally overpriced options they've had since forever. It's still shit beer, but it's cheaper than anything else and in a 33% larger unit. Deal.

Lich King [5/7]
I hadn't heard this band before, but heard of them, mostly in the usual thrash-revival circles and, in the more general eastern-New-England scene, vituperatively denying that they named themselves after a Warcraft villain whenever they get on a show and someone makes the now-unavoidable connection. I was expecting pretty much standard-form thrash revival, and that's what we got, albeit with a good measure of humor that not all the bands in this style always get. The band as yet is kind of undifferentiated as to what they sound like, a lot of Bay-Area stuff, but enough German and/or crossover touches to show that they're from the East rather than the West Coast; really, though, this is a good thing, as if they can continue to develop, they may grow into something more original. More than anything else, though, the execution was solid, and the crowd response to that was probably the best up until the headliners, benefiting from a lot of space. If they can continue to improve, they have a chance to take this thing national......and get ripped on by people who think they're Warcraft nerds in the other 44 states, not just the six that are likely to know about them already.

I picked up their latest CD, which is pretty decent and definitely worth a listen; the East Coast thrash touches in their sound are a lot more visible on disc than live. The only quibble I have with this band is introducing "Behaver" as "the only thrash metal song about being nice" -- maybe crossover doesn't count, but Crucial Youth was still around, and I've got a feeling that the Lich King dudes would dig them if they knew they existed.

Bonded By Blood [5/7]
Though being named after a classic record from the headliners on this bill might put some people off -- it really brings up how much of the thrash revival is devoted to doing things again, the way they used to be, for the sake of repetition -- these guys turned that expectation on its head with a nice long set full of solid if not very diverse material. The individual songs were good stuff, even with their influences -- Exodus, unsurprisingly, and a lot of Testament -- fairly obvious, but one after the other after the other, and they started to blend together. This is still a relatively new band, and the members are all really young guys, so it's likely that if they continue on the writing will improve and diversify. The joker in all this, though, is the sense (as an outsider) that maybe the thrash revival audience is not going to necessarily pressure the band to change and develop. We'll see, though.

I also picked up the latest record from this bunch, as I did with everyone on the bill except Exodus. Touring bands deserve support, especially the undercard, and everyone on this show actually had recorded material for sale, and the more that's supported, the fewer bands go out on tour with a merchbucket full of pool toys.

Holy Grail [5.5/7]
Armored Saint wants their lunch back, guys, seriously. Their name was on it and everything, and it was shoved way in the back of the fridge. Joking aside, it's been a while since I listened through Raising Fear, mostly because my record player isn't hooked up to anything, but that was what this band's blend of thrash and more traditional styles reminded me of the most. They also executed it pretty well, and put enough into their originals that their cover of "Fast As A Shark" was just "a" highlight rather than the highlight of the set. They didn't overstay their welcome, probably due to only having an EP and a yet-unreleased album to draw from, and that as much as the fresher sound, after Lich King and Bonded By Blood, probably helped in getting a positive impression from a crowd that was there to see a bill where, really, every single other band was heavier than they were.

These guys played at Wacken this past year; in the tent stage, and I did not see them, either because I had something better to do or because I was drinking with Spanish people, which may count toward the first as well. I don't begrudge their label bringing them over with only an EP out; that is what labels are for, after all, promotion, and the German audience, especially at Wacken as it's become, has a lot of overlap with the audience for this kind of music.

Malevolent Creation [6.5/7]
Just the fucking tops; this was debatably the best set of the night, but it was also the only death metal set of the night, and thanks to the doctrinaire thrash revivalists stepping out or going upstairs, I was able to get pretty close in. Both of these may have affected my personal perceptions, but what's not up for debate is that Malevolent Creation blasted out a killer set of rampaging brutal death metal, good music performed excellently. The setlist had a strong similarity to the set on their recent Conquering South America live-record, but I didn't get an exact list; best to leave that to somebody who has not, in the past, occasionally confused this band with Monstrosity. (I blame the fuckers who stole the CD from the Imperial Doom case at the radio station in college -- even just to cover for my own mistakes.) Just leave it at awesome.

Exodus [6.5/7]
There were low point, but more high points, exactly as you'd expect for this band, as they are, to stay alive and still stay ahead of the revival bands in the present day, and if "Downfall" sounds like a frickin Killswitch song, at least "Piranha", "Blacklist", and "Good Riddance", to call out some standouts from a set of very good songs, still sound like fucking Exodus. Good enough for me, especially the chance to see Exodus in a nice tight little space like this with an appropriately violent crowd, which led to a hell of a lot of motion, onstage and off. Minute for minute, maybe Malevolent Creation had the better set, but there's no arguing with this kind of volume in quality. Hell of a set, and a hell of an end to the night.

For what it's worth, Rob Dukes, despite being the third-best vocalist to record with Exodus, does have his good points; he's so far the only person I've seen call out the people standing around in the balcony from the stage. As noted numerous times, if you go to a thrash metal show, why the fuck are you not on the floor? If you want to watch people thrashing to a band from a position of safety, you can steal a concert DVD on the internet and save yourself a $25 ticket and gas money. I really don't understand this. At the point where I can't participate any more, I'm just going to stop going to such shows -- and I can still go and participate, albeit to a lesser degree, even now with zero ligaments in my knees.

No encore, as they turned the lights on and started chucking people out the venue; good on Exodus for not wasting three minutes when they could be playing more music. I burned rubber back in order to get sleep to work on the tour report Saturday; that's still not done, and my bands aren't even sewn on, but I'm now all caught up, just in time to head out the door for Composted at Metal Thursday. Euro tour report to follow, at least in part, over the weekend.

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