Hatebreed brought their 20 Years Of Perseverance Tour to Hartford, Connecticut, over the weekend and packed the Webster Theater to capacity.
Connecticut metal band Hatebreed has a lot to celebrate. Not only is it the twenty-year anniversary of their seminal album Perseverance, their most recent album, Weight Of The False Self, sent shockwaves through the metalcore ultraverse. It is therefore fitting that the current tour has a monster lineup with Gatecreeper, Dying Wish, and Bodysnatcher on the ticket.
The Webster Theater is a landmark for heavy music fans in Connecticut. I have seen more bands than I can count at this venue, starting way back when with Morbid Angel. Its large, open club space accommodates wallflowers and circle pit demons alike, creating one of the most welcoming metal scenes in the northeast. On the Friday night of the Hatebreed show, the Webster was as full as I have ever seen it, testifying not only to the draw of the bands performing but also to the appeal and status of the venue.
Dying Wish went up first. This Portland, Oregon metal band pushed the crowd to its aerobic limit with high-energy antics that turned heads all the way around. The unavoidable comparison of lead singer Emma Boster to Harley Quinn from the movies hits you right between the eyes when the band stepped out on the stage, but when she starts singing it is her voice you most notice. It is the hardcore energy and punk sensibilities of the band that make for a sure-fire winning combination.
Florida’s Bodysnatcher prowled the deck next. This deathcore band is touring for their latest album, Bleed-Abide, which is one of my top picks for 2022. I am a fan of all the bands on the card, but it was Bodysnatcher I wanted to see most because they are the one I hadn’t seen live before. Their performance was a mesmerizing combination of muscular metal and laid-back confidence, and it resonated with the growing crowd in Hartford. They could have played for an hour and a half and still we would have wanted more.
Gatecreeper is a death metal band from Arizona that is creating some of the most interesting music in heavy metal today. Their 2021 album An Unexpected Reality is a monumental achievement with a very unlikely structure – seven songs that run about one minute each and an eleven-minute epic as the anchor. The hooks and crushing riffs were in all their full-throttle glory, and they devastated and primed the crowd for what was to come next. This is third time I have seen Gatecreeper this year and every time is better than the last.
In the past few years I have seen Hatebreed many times, but always at large outdoor festivals. In that environment they positively crush it. With plenty of room to run around on those gigantic stages, they get up to all sorts. I wondered how that kind of show would translate to the more intimate confines of a smaller indoor place. It turns out, the show is just as exciting in a theater as it is in the wide outdoors.
Over the course of two dozen songs (twenty five, in fact, if I counted correctly), Hatebreed hit all the spots fans were looking for. The setlist did include songs from Perseverance, naturally, but also from early albums The Rise of Brutality and Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire, and more. I will never get tired of watching this band live because they leave it all on the stage and they always play like their lives depend on it.
The 20 Years Of Perseverance Tour continues trough most of November. Bleeding Through joins for the last few dates and Gatecreeper steps off then – see the tour poster for the facts and get your tickets while they are still available.
Omens is the ninth album from Lamb Of God and one of their strongest to date.
Starting out in Richmond, Virginia under the name Burn The Priest, Lamb Of God has a history nearly thirty years long. From New American Gospel in 2000 to the newest record, Omens, they have laid down the grooves and the metalcore like no other. Each new album is a massive occasion for fans, and the latest one is destined to be a stand-out set in their impressive history. The band is Randy Blythe (vocals), Mark Morton (guitar), Willie Adler (guitar), John Campbell (bass), and Art Cruz (drums).
It all starts out on a jarring note with “Nevermore” – a wailing, battering beginning that fills you with trepidation. A little dissonance is in there too to permanently unbalance you. Blythe’s voice grinds you up as you listen, then reassuring, melodic singing offers a soothing repast, but you know what is coming next. Great opener. “Vanishing” is next and it is rougher, if anything – a straight-up pummeling. The adrenaline continues to flow and spew, and the guitars line you up and shake you down. “To The Grave” wraps up the first triplet and the ligatures are tight by the end of that one.
“Ditch” is one of my favorite tracks on the record. It is a bloody raking of your senses, an aural calamity. This leads to the title track and the end of side one. “Omens” is a linear assault that shows you straight up what the deal is and leaves it with you. It is a heavy weight for you to decide what it means.
The second half of the album has all the grain of the first, and to me it seems even darker in tone. “Gomorrah” flat out tells you how bad things are, and on songs like “Grayscale” you feel as if the clock is ticking and the final bits of sand are about to filter through the narrow neck of the hourglass. The set ends with “September Song,” the longest track and perhaps the most somber. Mysterious desert vibes reach out and surround you at the front, entrancing and then hypnotizing. One minute in the terror starts and it never really lets up, even with the spacey interlude and the off ramp. This album is a monster. Highly recommended.
Omens is out now in a variety of forms through Epic Records. Check out the options at the links below.
Texas death metal band I Am bring the heat on their new album, Eternal Steel.
I Am is a deathcore / death metal band from Texas that came to be around 2011. After the Momento Mori EP in 2015, I Am released two killer full-length albums, Life Through Torment (2017) and Hard 2 Kill (2018). Their music is notable not just for its power but also for speed. They have combined thrash and death metal elements with enough of a hook and a groove shining through to make the sound unique. The band is Andrew Hileman (vocals), Tom Reyes (guitar), Chris Burgess (guitar), Erik Rodriguez (bass), and Ian Scott (drums).
I Am gets their point across on the new album through eleven electrifying tracks. “The Primal Wave” poses the first question and introduces the heavy sound punctuated by rapid ripples and brought forth fully by Andrew Hileman’s menacing singing. “Surrender to the Blade” continues the campaign with a steady, driving riff that morphs into a dervish at exactly the right moment. The lead break is eerie and enticing and two thirds of the way through there is another shift. It is impressive how the initiated theme remains in place as it is put through its paces in such variety. “The Iron Gate” follows, a sorrowful, dooming affair, setting up the title track. “Eternal Steel” races through the open field, bewildering all who give it a glance. This song gives you a savage battering you won’t soon forget.
Other stand-out tracks include “Infernal Panther,” again along a doom lane with homage to early heavy metal icons you will recognize right away, and “Heaven On Earth,” a song that pushes on with unswerving confidence – it also has a fantastic lead guitar break. “Manic Cure” is the final statement, and here we go out on a bang when the speed, power, and groove all come together in a signature piece of work. This new album is exceptional, even better than Hard 2 Kill, I think. Go get yours. Recommended.
Eternal Steel is out through MNRK Heavy on Friday, September 9th in digital and an array of physicals.
Photos by Wayne Edwards, taken at Piere’s Entertainment Center, 2022.
Atlanta noise rock band The Callous Daoboys launch their third album into the zeitgeist, Celebrity Therapist.
The Callous Daoboys create music that is rather hard to define, despite the labels of metalcore and mathcore often applied to their output. It is unpredictable one song to the next, and also one bar to the next in any given song. There are sometimes long melodic passages – entire songs, even – and along the way there is prominent disruption. They have released two previous full-length albums so far, Animal Tetris (2017) and Die on Mars (2019), plus an EP right before the inaugural debut. The musicians are Carson Pace (vocals), Maddie Caffrey (guitar), Dan Hodsdon (guitar), Jack Buckalew (bass), Amber Christman (violin), and Sam Williamson (drums).
“Violent Astrology” wakes you up and directs your attention to what is about to happen. Noise, chaos, screaming, music. It might not seem like it at first, but there is a lot here that owes a debt to Zappa, and that is where the biggest appeal lies for me. There is a great deal of unexpectedness throughout, not the least of which is the melodic passage that coalesces from the midst of the violent careening. You have some thinking to do if you want to gather your thoughts on this song, or any of the others in the set.
Reviewing this music is a rather fruitless endeavor, in the end. What shall I do? Try to describe the weirdness? My mission here is merely to make you aware of the album’s existence. Across the eight tracks on the album, there are a multitude of samples and grabs, arranged in an aggressively artful way among the vocals and instrumentations. The work is frenzied and appears on the surface to be disordered, but it isn’t. I am not sure it makes much sense to look for patterns, exactly, but there certainly is an extraordinary amount of expression going on. If you like this sort of sound in the first place, and/or you are up for a challenge, then go ahead and press play.
Celebrity Therapist is out on September 2nd through MNRK Heavy, in cooperation with Modern Static Records.
True Power is the third record from Michigan metalcore band I Prevail.
Starting out almost ten years ago, I Prevail has made an indelible mark on the hard rock scene. Releasing Lifelines in 2016 and the thundering follow-up Trauma three years later, the band continues to bend their trajectory ever farther upward. Staking out top spots in major festivals and embarking on a massive headlining tour this fall, I Prevail is making its presence known. The band is Brian Burkheiser (vocals), Eric Vanlerberghe (vocals), Steven Menoian (guitars, bass), Dylan Bowman (guitar), and Gabe Helguera (drums).
After a short intro track, “There’s Fear In Letting Go” gets the ball rolling on the new album. The signature I Prevail sound complete with alternating vocals is on full display. High energy and delineated assurance are pervasive forces throughout the song and, we’ll find, the entire album. “Body Bag” is even fiercer – an interesting choice to start out at such a high level and then raise the bar immediately. “Self-Destruction” changes the tempo but does not back off the attitude, and the riffs here grow heavier and darker. “Bad Things” is next and it starts out melodically, but there is a punch in this one, too.
There is no question that fans of I Prevail are going to be stoked by the new album. Apart from the opening movements, stand-out tracks for me are “Judgement Day” for its ragged harshness and “Choke” for that killer guitar riff. The final two songs on the set work a particular magic together as well, “Visceral” and “Doomed.” The former is aggressive, true to its title, and the latter is quiet and smooth despite its theme. This album is one that will be celebrated now and remembered in the years to come. Recommended.
True Power is out on Friday, August 19th through Fearless Records. Press the links below for all the details.
Killswitch Engage releases the recording of their 2021 Palladium livestream event this week.
Do you remember last year? The pandemic was still roughing us up, sort of like it still is today. Back then, though, there were more restrictions than there are right now on live music so we fans were treated to a number of livestream events to offset the sadness of not getting together in person. I remember the Clutch livestreams particularly, and there were many other bands following suit. A few were captured for posterity, including the August 6, 2021 performance by Killswitch Engage at The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Coming together on the cusp of the new millennium, Killswitch Engage has had an enormous impact on heavy music. Over the years they have released eight full-length albums and a heaping helping of splits and EPs. Typically labeled metalcore, the aggressive musical presentations of heavy metal were formative for the category. I have been lucky enough to see them several times at festivals and, if a choice has to be made when two bands are playing at the same time, Killswitch Engage is probably going to get the nod. The band is Jesse Leach (vocals), Adam Dutkiewicz (guitar), Joel Stroetzel (guitar), Mike D’Antonio (bass), and Justin Foley (drums).
This show was very different, not only because of it being a livestream but also because of the content. The set included both the Atonement (2019) album and the Killswitch Engage (2000) album in full. Talk about bookending. It is an amazing performance and it is incredible fan service with a little surprise toward the end. Beyond the band’s fan base, this concert is a good vehicle for new listeners to jump in. Recommended.
Live At The Palladium is out on Friday, June 3rd through Metal Blade Records on digital, vinyl, and CD/Blu Ray combo. I would get the Blu Ray in order to actually see the show, if it was me. I understand the both attraction of vinyl and the convenience of digital as well. This might be a tough choice. What to do?
The third album from Florida deathcore band Bodysnatcher is out this week, Bleed-Abide.
Bodysnatcher came together in 2014. They put an EP out in 2015, and their first long-player, Death Of Me, followed in 2017. It was probably their second album, This Heavy Void, that brought them the most attention, and their fan base has been on the uptick all along. The band is Kyle Medina (vocals), Kyle Carter (guitar), Kyle Shope (bass), and Chris Whited (drums).
Talking about the album, Kyle Medina tells us, “Bleed-Abide is the ultimate culmination of what the band has been building for years, and I believe the best material to date. The instrumentals have matured and become heavier hitting and the lyrics dig deeper personally and more relatable than even This Heavy Void. There is something for everyone in this album: slam riffs, breakdowns, two steps, choruses that stick…”
There are thirteen mostly short, hard-hitting tracks on the new album. After the intro piece “Bleed,” the clubbing begins with “Abide.” Savage aggression ensues. Growling, bristling vocals descend to croaks now and then, and the percussion beats your senses senseless. The intentionality is ever-present, pushing the musical ideas forward.
There is plentiful speed here, but acceleration is not the whole story. “Smashed Perceptions” disturbs perceptions of pace, and you hear this on many tracks. “Flatline,” for example, does it in a different way. Instead of relying entirely on speed and volume, the change ups and hanging moments add tension and drama, maybe also anxiety, to the music.
The last four songs taken together are a menace to reason and sanity. “Wired For Destruction,” “Hollow Shell,” “Behind The Crowd,” and “The Question” work together in my head even if they weren’t meant to – they are a suite of destruction at the end that brings it all together. Recommended.
Bleed-Abide is out on Friday, April 22nd through MNRK Heavy. There are lots of formats to choose from at the links below.
It was a night of thrash in northern Indiana when Overkill stopped by for a little rampage on The Wings Of War tour.
I like the extremes of heavy music – I love doom and I love thrash. New Jersey’s Overkill has always been one of my favorite thrash bands. Starting back in the early 1980s, they have released nineteen (!) studio albums, the most recent being The Wings Of War (Nuclear Blast), which they are supporting with the current tour. My favorite Overkill album is probably The Electric Age, and I have been told many times that it’s a controversial choice. I stand by it, and at the same time, I will listen to any of their albums all the way through any time. The music always cranks the adrenaline up. I was most excited to see Overkill, but two other impressive acts went on ahead of them.
A band that I was seeing for the first time, Cultus Black (or Cvltvs Black), opened the show at Piere’s Entertainment Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. On their Facebook page, they describe themselves as “a dramatic deathcore/Nu-metal crossover.” The photos will give you some idea of what went on. These musicians were fully committed and you have to see them live if you really want to understand the experience.
Like Overkill, Prong, too, have a history that stretches back to the 1980s. They released five albums during their first run, then took a break for a few years. For the past twenty years, they’ve been hitting it hard and putting out new music regularly. The band’s latest full-length album is Zero Days (Steamhammer). The style of heavy metal they play has been described in many ways, ranging from hardcore to punk to industrial to thrash to groove. I am satisfied to call it high energy heavy metal, and they stalked the stage like they owned the place. Great set.
Overkill took the stage and took no prisoners. They opened with “Wrecking Crew” and played one monstrous metal anthem after another, wrapping things up on an tidy encore. Founding members Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth and D. D. Verni led the way and Overkill tore the roof off the place to the delight of screaming fans. I was expecting to see a raucous performance but what the band delivered went above and beyond. Many famous and impressive bands play at Piere’s, and Overkill making the journey there was something extra special; another step up.
The Wings Of War tour continues, with many more dates this month and later in the year. Get out there and see these bands to satisfy your need for speed.