Best Buy Theater, New York, NY
I never make any apologies about being a from New York City. Rather I wear that fact like a badge proudly. New Yorkers are a special breed of Americans that believe the cultural universe revolves around our town and no where else. Too bad for you if you disagree because we truly do not care what you think. Some times we are righteous in this attitude and other times it’s shameless braggadocio. This extends to music as much as sports, art or pop iconography too. The 80′s in rock and metal were dominated by bands from California, but the early nineties belonged to New York with the crossover of hardcore punk and experimental metal bands blending it all together to make new sub-genres of music. This spawned many great bands, the majority of whom ended up signed to Roadrunner Records. Roadrunner was the destination label for great metal music for a long time. For bands like TYPE O NEGATIVE, BIOHAZARD and later on LIFE OF AGONY and VISION OF DISORDER they all represented the east coast contingent, each with their own distinct sound and their own group of diehard fans.
Brooklyn was definitely in the house as SEVENTH VOID opened up the show to the already packed crowd. Led by Kenny Hickey (TYPE O NEGATIVE/PRONG/KINGDOM OF SORROW) the band plays a classic sounding batch of doom metal with other influences mixed in. Although I am a fan of Kenny’s work in TYPE O and their debut record Heaven Is Gone (Big Vin Records) I was anxious to see Kenny front a band by himself. Well I came away very impressed! With his confident, bluesy singing and beautifully dirge-y songs, he has really stepped up to the plate. Joined by his TYPE O bandmate Johnny Kelly on drums (also of DANZIG), guitarist Matt Brown (URANIUM 235) and bassist Hank Hell (INHUMAN) rounding out the lineup they crushed. “Drown Inside was dedicated to Peter Steele who died back in April and whose spirit would prove to cast a long shadow on this night. “The End of all Time” has a quality not unlike an early SOUNDGARDEN or DOWN song to it. “Closing In” and “Descent” also rate a high mention as very good songs to hear live. I’m looking forward to the next album after hearing these songs so well performed.
Admittedly, I have never been the biggest fan of Long Island’s VISION OF DISORDER. I have seen them many times over the years and they certainly amped up the crowd which had many heads in the house tonight. You can make a case for V.O.D. being the blueprint for the style of metalcore along with DARKEST HOUR. Drawing mainly from their seminal work which includes their self titled debut (1995) and somewhat maligned Imprint, they lit up the mosh pit with a spate of hardcore and metal anthems. Frontman Tim Williams has one of the most distinctive vocal styles in metal and is a great performer. He does a great job of keeping the rabid fans in a frenzy. Peeling off songs like “Element”, ‘Through These Eyes”, “Color Blind” and “Landslide” had the crowd jumping, motivated and screaming along with every word. The pits were furious and impressive like only New York can do. The biggest reaction for their set was “Down By The River” which famously had Philip Anselmo on vocals, but Tim handled the entire song himself this time. Drummer Brendan Cohen and guitarist Matt Baumbach are still the glue of the band and their performances were excellent. Tim mentioned from the stage that VOD was going to finally have a new album out in 2011 which drew another big cheer as the left on a high note.
There is a part of me that finds it odd that BIOHAZARD was on the bottom end of the co-headliners slot tonight since LOA used to open for them way back when. While they never claimed to be strictly hardcore they have always blurred the lines of punk, metal and rap music. Still, when the giant banner from the sadly forgotten New World Disorder album was unfurled I got really excited. Tonight was a cause for celebration at not just the pairing of some classic NYC bands, but the return of Bobby “The Skull” Hambel on lead guitar. He has been back in the band for two years officially and tonight was the final night of the tour.
Coming out to a heroes welcome they immediately kicked things off with “What Makes Us Tick” which saw the pit go apeshit! They sounded super tight and I was pleased to see Bobby up there spinning around and kicking ass as much as he did back in the day. Guitarist Billy Graziadei (SUICIDE CITY) led the charge as usual with with great stage presence and vicious screaming not tempered by time. Then the first surprise of the night came when they played “Retribution” which they never play often enough for me. That song brings back good memories of my cassette tape of the first record. Following next was the excellent “Shades of Grey” which features some of Evan Seinfeld’s (THE SPYDERS) best vocals and bass playing. I always though he was really underrated as a bassist and never got enough credit for locking in with drummer Danny Schuler (BLOODCLOT) as well as playing some really flavorful lines. As always Danny just kills the drums with the right mix of punk tempos, metal brutality and his patented sick, tight fills. Keeping in line with the old-school setlist they next played “Urban Discipline” and “Five Blocks To The Subway”. Like much of their output these two songs encapsulate what it is to be a New Yorker who doesn’t live in a high class zip code. Then my personal favorite song from the band, “Wrong Side Of The Tracks” came next. They played it great and then Evan did the “Can You Dig It” speech from THE WARRIORS movie the band famously sampled on their recording. Do yourself a favor and go see the campy original and not the subpar remake. They continued to plow through a good mix of early gems and later hits like “Music”, “Howard Beach” and Black and White and Red all Over”. After a good version of “Down For Life” came another twist. Evan gave a rousing speech about the death of Peter Steele that led him and some of the other guys in the band to breakdown and cry. He talked lovingly about how Peter named their band and how important he was to them and every band on the stage. He dedicated a truncated version of “Loss” to Peter’s memory that was just beautiful. Definitely a lot of tough guys were dabbing their wet eyes after that. After a run-through of the decidedly aggro “Love Denied” the closed out their set with the powerful 1-2 punch of “Punishment” and “Hold My Own”. I’m a bit bummed they played nothing past 1995 and they have ignored a large part of their career for these comeback shows with Bobby. On the other hand this was easily one of the best performances I have ever seen BIOHAZARD play. They are working on a new album as well, the first for the original lineup since 1994.
What Makes Us Tick
Shades of Grey
Five Blocks To the Subway
Wrong Side of the Tracks
Black and White and Red All Over
Down For Life
Loss (short version, dedicated to Peter Steele)
Hold My Own
Now it was time for LOA to hit the stage. The pit filled up quickly in anticipation and I managed to get pretty close to the rail from where I was earlier in the show. The classic LOA logo glowed iridescent under the stage lights as smoke filled the venue and 3,000 people strong were chanting the bands’ name. Led by singer Keith Caputo who launched the band into “Underground” with the classic opening line “If you won’t walk with me, I will walk alone”. There was an immediate wave of moshers, crowd surfers and head banging metalers that latest for most of the set. I got kicked in the back of the neck, but that is par for the course these days. Everybody in the place was singing along to every word and just feeling it. Amazing! Next came “Through and Through” which continued the strong start. Ever since the official reunion began seven years ago, fans have had to adjust to Caputo’s change in vocal style. By now it’s nothing new, but he long abandoned his untamed wail for a more straight up rocking delivery. He is a far more accomplished singer and performer today than he was back in the day, although that is the sound fans identify him with. While everyone in the crowd sings the LOA songbook like they remember it, Keith chooses to sing around the crowd adding in new flavors and harmonies, made up often on the spot. I think this is a great approach and makes this reunion sound fresh to my ears not a retread of the well known material. At the end of the second song Keith had the line of the night or the year for that matter with “all this tough guy, macho, hardcore BS doesn’t mean anything if you don’t help people up when they fall down in the pit”.
Although Caputo is always the fulcrum of the band, the rest of the players are no less important as “Method of Groove” proved. Bassist Alan Robert (SPOILER NYC/AMONG THIEVES) was always the bands principle songwriter, but is at his best live. He sings back up and occasional leads, plays great bass lines and is a fine overall performer. I had parked myself as close to him as possible for most of the set and snagged one of his pics by the nights’ end. Guitarist Joey Z (CARNIVORE/STEREOMUD) holds down all of the guitars by himself and also contributes vocals while drummer Sal Abrucscato (TYPE O NEGATIVE) pounds away at his kit at the back of the stage. The electrifying “Lost At 22” came next and still gets my heart pumping with its great main riff and deep lyrics. “River Runs Red” soon followed and the band was joined by Tim Williams who lent some screams to the chorus of that memorable tune. Then came the final surprise of the night came from Joey Z who turned his guitar around to show the message “We Miss You Peter” with the TYPE O NEGATIVE logo under it. The entire venue erupted in applause as everyone got emotional again. I half expected a cover song to break out or at least a CARNIVORE tribute. Keith talked about the loss of family and friends and dedicated “Words and Music” to them and the fans. After a rousing version of “I Regret” from the Ugly album continued the euphoric feeling of the night. Interestingly enough the bands’ biggest hit “Weeds” was mildly received with the oldest of fans not being too excited to hear it. Soul Searching Sun, with its abstract lyrics and evolved sound was surely a departure for the band back in 1997, but a great song is a great song regardless of how “core” it is. “Weeds” is a great song, period. Back to the seminal first album with true renditions of “Bad Seed”, “My Eyes” and “Respect” and the band was just killing it performance wise. These songs songs were played with all of the passion and the fury they deserve. After thanking the crowd once again the band ended the triumphant night with “This Time”.
Through and Through
Method of Groove
Lost at 22
River Runs Red (with Tim Williams)
Words and Music
Reviewed by Keith Chachkes