It’s not every day you get to see a live bill with not one, but two legends of your favorite genre on the same night. However, that is exactly what happened when your intrepid reporter Keefy went to see DESTRUCTION and HEATHEN in Boston recently. In another feat of awesomeness by Ammonia Booking, the best local talent wranglers for metal clubs in Boston put on this show which also features WARBEAST. Playing in the aptly named club called Church, a packed house of faithful thrash worshipers we were all sermonized and saved by no less than the holiest of evil healers. The metal flowed and the metal was good my brothers and sisters. Rejoice and never repent!
Once again I was blessed to see a bevy of excellent quality opening bands on the same bill as national headliners. Boston is just overflowing with quality acts right now and so even local shows have a more epic flavor than I can ever remember. Tonight the early crowd was treated to blistering sets by RAZORMAZE and PANZERBASTARD. RAZORMAZE is a neo-thrash prospect with great chops and a great sense of dynamics. PANZERBASTARD is one part MOTORHEAD and two parts evil death thrash. Like CELTIC FROST (whom they covered) on crack. I’ll be looking forward to seeing both again soon as they always put on a good show in this deep and competitive scene.
WARBEAST was the first of the touring bands tonight and they were excellent. Formerly known as the TEXAS METAL ALLIANCE and made up of members of RIGOR MORTIS, GAMMACIDE and DEMONSEED the proper lineage is there. They play their own brand of old-school thrash, but based on the players in the band wouldn’t dare tag a “neo” anything on their style. Of course leading the madness is vocalist Bruce Corbitt (RIGOR MORTIS) and his dominating stage presence. Rocking his custom microphone holder he led the band through tracks off of their Philip Anselmo produced debut Krush the Enemy (Housecore Records). They got the crowd lathered up and moshing hard. Songs like “Stalker”, “Unleashed” and new song “It” were really killer live. “It” in particular was great with a killer solo by Scott Shelby. The closed strong with “Birth of a Psycho” and thanked Boston for making their first northeast show memorable.
Next up was the band I was most excited to see, HEATHEN. This was not only their first ever show in Boston it would be my first time seeing them too. Much like seeing FORBIDDEN for the first time last fall after thinking I might never get to see them, HEATHEN had me on the same trip. As an underrated first wave of Bay Area Thrash band, these guys have been on the comeback trail of late. With last years’ excellent The Evolution of Chaos (Mascot Records) album under their belts they have been touring regularly and reintroducing fans to their many anthems and new jams as well. The room really filled up right before they went on confirming my suspicion that my local metal brethren would represent to the fullest. The lights dimmed and the intro for “Dying Season” came on and the place went wild. Hitting the stage with a vengeance, the band was just killing the song live as a really great pit broke out up front. Much like the last album, the song kind of sums up what has always been great about HEATHEN and brings it into a modern light. Singer David White demonstrated that he still has a golden set of pipes and an awesome level of stage presence. Fans and guitar geeks were camped out on Lee Altus’s (EXODUS) side of the stage watching every second of his fretboard acrobatics. In fact the interplay and harmonizing between Atlus and Kragen Lam (PROTOTYPE) was standout all night. “Control by Chaos” was next and was an equally great old-school sounding banger with more insane guitar work. Yet another recent song came next in with “Arrows of Agony” which continued the assault. The band sounded really tight overall despite the lineup changes for the tour. Returning Jason VieBrooks was filling in for Jon Torres on bass and was really solid. He played on some of their best albums so he fit right in. I need to single out Jon Dette (SLAYER/TESTAMENT) who is filling in on this tour for Darren Minter. He was an absolute beast behind the kit and best drummer of the night. In between songs people were calling out for requests of older songs which was cool. Finally a classic nugget was tossed out in the form of “Open The Grave”. Starting off with a hellish scream from White, the track is just a balls out thrashterpiece. Epic performances of “Hypnotized” and “No Stone Unturned” were astounding the crowd ate it up. Closing out with the 1-2 punch of “Fade Away” and the mandatory classic “Death By Hanging” they left me and everyone else in the venue speechless. I hope they can come back for a headline tour before too long.
DESTRUCTION is always a great live act. One of the best and most powerful power trios in all of music and great showmen as well. I always had them ranked neck and neck with KREATOR among the German thrashers and just ahead of SODOM. They are always high on energy and many people in the club tonight were there solely to see their favorite Teutonic thrash kings. I had the misfortune being outside the clue interviewing HEATHEN when DESTRUCTION started their set, but I wrapped things up quickly and made my way inside. As I got inside hears the strains of “Armeggedonizer” and the band was just killing. Everybody was just going nuts for them, many heads knew all of the words and there was a lot of action in the pit. The band sounded in fine form, especially the legendary frontman Schmeir on bass and vocals. “ Hate Is My Fuel” off of the excellent recent Day of Reckoning (Nuclear Blast) came next and there was an insanely brutal circle pit lasting for the entire song. Older jams like “Eternal Ban” and “Life Without Sense” followed and they were really perfect renditions. Guitarist Mike Sifringer is one of the most consistent and enduring axe men in all of metal. His leads are fluid like the some of the classic rock guys a generation before him, but his attack and technique are brilliant. Schmeir took some time out to rap to the crowd between songs and spent some time complaining about the sound on stage, but I couldn’t tell there was anything wrong. Come to think of it he complained about the sound the last time I saw them too. Anyway he introduced “Devolution” with a shoutout to President Obama for taking out the recently deceased Osama Bin Laden which was quite funny. “Devolution is a sick modern track, especially for its drum work by drummer Vaaver Dramowicz and another top notch solo from Sifringer. At one point Schmeir was taking requests from the crowd and they played “Thrash Til Death” and “Death Trap” on command which was amazing. The entire ending of the set was a throwback to their earliest days with hits like “Beastial Invasion”, “Beyond Eternity” and “Release from Agony”. For “Release…” they were joined by Kragen Lum on second guitar. As the ended the night with “Total Desaster” they once again they proved to be at the upper echelon of thrash. This band has stood the test of time and their music truly is part of the DNA of metal history.
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes