It's been two months since I've been to a concert. That is the longest gap between shows in something like seven or eight years. I've missed a couple shows recently that would have been a lot of fun, with bands like Sonata Arctica, Mushroomhead, and Y & T. Fortunately, the show I went to for my comeback of sorts featured a strong line-up from top to bottom.
While I can't be considered a big fan of all the acts involved, all of them brought their A game, making for a night of great hard rock and metal. A blending of local, national, and international talent was on hand for the night and the crowd was right there for it.
When I got inside the Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, New York, the first act was already onstage. It was a band that I am familiar with, having seen them on a number of occasions over the past few years. They call themselves Downfire and are an excellent heavy hard rock act in a vein similar to Black Label Society. This band is definitely on the move, consistently delivering great live shows. These guys definitely know how to work the stage with the charismatic presence of vocalist/guitarist Dave Diaz, guitarist Carlos Vega, and bassist Mark Parisi. It doesn't matter if they are at the top of the bill or the first act in front of a small crowd, they put it all on the line. This show was no different; they played, the crowd responded, simple as that. The only problem with their set was a technical one. During their last song, "Through the Damage," it sounded as if Dave's guitar disappeared from the mix. I could still hear the monitor sound, but very little was making it out to the crowd.
There was also a new face on the stage making an impact that night; Downfire has a new drummer, Chilean-born Ignacio Orellana. I have to say that he is definitely making his presence known. He brings a stronger drum presence to the sound, giving the music a newfound dynamic. It will be interesting to see how he impacts the music as they move forward. Besides being a strong drummer, he is also a force on the promotion front, spreading the word of Chilean metal. Check out ChileanMetal.net for some bands just waiting to be discovered stateside.
The next band to take the stage was considerably different from Downfire and the rest of the bands on the bill. Crime Lab took the stage and proceeded to pound out their straight-up brand of hardcore. I cannot say that their music really grabbed me to any great extent, but there is certainly something to be said about their energy. They have a lot to spare and were more than willing to share it with the growing crowd. Aside from the energy there is something else that was exceptional about Crime Lab — their timing. Their songs play with all sorts of different time signatures, often changing mid-breakdown. Again, not a band I feel the desire to seek out, but I would not avoid them. They play hardcore and they play it well.
Now we have come to the part of the show that has been a long time coming. It was the return of Audible Thought to the stage. It has been a long time since they have played a live show, somewhere in the vicinity of seven months, if I remember correctly. Their bass player left the band in the search of other opportunities and their drummer chose to go in another direction. In the time between then and now the remaining core duo have been searching for new band mates. They found them in the form of bassist Mike Polito and drummer Mike Doyle.
The new lineup sounded great. It was not the best I have heard them play, but considering the short time frame they had to get ready, it was admirable. They have made changes to the sound — it is a little faster, a little heavier, but still all Audible Thought. The set included such stand-bys as "Measure Up," "Speed Demon" complete with new double time drums amping up the speed aspect, and "Betrayed." The highlight was definitely "Can't Break Me," a song I have talked about in prior reviews. They haven't put this through the studio yet (at least not that I've heard), but it is a step forward in their songwriting and takes the listener on a sonic journey.
Lou sounded excellent, and Ryan was on point with strong guitar work. As for the new guys, it did take a little getting used to. Mike Polito sounded strong on bass going in a bit of a different direction from his predecessor, Jim Norton. This is a big one as Jim is a great bass player and an incredible stage presence, but it appears that Mike is well on his way to filling the gap and bringing his own flavor to the mix. As for the other new Mike, he is definitely a step up from their last drummer (who was good, but pales in comparison to Mike). He brings a much more active presence to the drums, one that is highly complementary to the rest of the band.
Unfortunately, this was their last show of the year. They are headed back to their rehearsal space to work on their songs and write some new ones in an effort to make 2008 a great year in their evolution.
It was time for a band that I didn't even know was on the bill until I showed up. Turned out they were a late add and the reason that Downfire played first rather than right before Overkill. That band was none other than the UK's own Paradise Lost. This news excited me to no end. I am not the biggest fan of Paradise Lost, but I own a couple of their albums and have always liked what I heard from them. They have a great doom and gloom metal sound that is not quite metal, not quite goth, but somewhere in between. They have been forging their own direction for years and now I had the opportunity to see them live.
Paradise Lost came on to the stage and delivered near forty minutes of great gloom metal. It was a great performance to a split crowd. There were a good number of Paradise Lost fans in attendance and they were having a great time. However, the old school thrash fans that were there for Overkill did not particularly care for the slowed tempo style of Paradise Lost. They were not terribly vocal in their displeasure, but after their set there were audible complaints about why they were even there. No matter, their performance was excellent and the fans loved it.
Their sound was big, full, and was just gorgeous as it filled the small theater. They peaked mid-set with the pairing of "Enchantment" and "As I Die." Those two songs just sounded great and were the highlight of their set. Their stage presence may not be as energy-filled as Downfire or Overkill, but their is no lack of charisma. It is just the charisma is different, more of a burning smolder just below the surface. This band burned up the stage. I would love to see a full set from them.
Four bands deep into the night and it was finally time for our main event. At 11:45 Overkill took the stage by force and proceeded to tear the house down for 75 minutes. Time filled with old school thrash delivered with attitude that won't quit and has a distinctly metal-family oriented bent. Now, let me be up front and say that I have never been a big Overkill fan. I am not, and have never been, a hater or anything of the sort. Overkill just happens to be one of those bands that never really took up much space on my radar. Well, that and I have never particularly cared for Bobby Blitz's voice. Back to the show at hand.
Bobby led the band with a voracious energy and a ripped physique that belies his age. While I may not care for his voice, he has scarcely lost a step in the two plus decades that he has been on the road. He wasn't the only one delivering the goods. The twin guitars of Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer were excellent playing that old school thrash while original bass player DD Verni filled out the aggressive bottom end. The most impressive of all was drummer Ron Lipnicki whose performance was fantastic, highlighted by some wild double bass.
Early on in the set there was a bit of a ruckus down in the pit by the stage. I could not quite make out what was going on, but I did see the one of the monitors getting yanked from the stage. Bobby responded by saying, "Hit the fucking road, there's no murdering anyone at my fucking shows." Whatever was going on, security responded and escorted someone from the building. That's the kind of stuff that we don't need and can ruin a show for everyone.
Of all the songs they played, I can only say I recognized two of them. The first was "The Wait," from 1994's W.F.O, and probably the best song from that album. The other is a new track off of Immortalis called "Skull and Bones." I recognized this as I had just gotten the new album an hour prior to the show. The CD version features guest vocals from Randy Blythe of Lamb of God. While I don't know many of the songs, I didn't let that stop me from getting into the pedal to the metal performance that they put on. They were in top form as the blasted through the set. The crowd loved it, with plenty of action down in front.
While I will likely never be a full member of the Wrecking Crew, I would probably check them out live again given the chance. If you have the opportunity, and like thrash metal, make it a point to see them live.
1. New Machine
2. It Lives
3. Rotten To The Core
4. The Wait – New High In Lows
5. Skull And Bones
6. Thanx For Nothing
9. Long Time Dyin'
11. Walk Through Fire
12. Wrecking Crew
14. Old School
16. Fuck You