Another weeknight metal show in Cleveland and the Cleveland faithful showed once again why people all over the national metal scene say Cleveland is dying. For a bill as strong as this, the turnout really should have been stronger – Thursday night or not. This bill had a bit of everything from many seemingly diverse genres that all tied together nicely through their sheer will, drive and power.
I arrived just as Hemlock was starting their set. Hemlock is a long-lived metal act from Las Vegas, Nevada. Admittedly, this was my first exposure to these guys and I can tell you that I’m looking forward to my next. Combining the thrash sensibility of Testament with the riffing of Pantera and the power metal flexibility of Pro-Pain, Hemlock brought an awful lot to the table – which they promptly unleashed upon those in attendance. The crowd was still smallish throughout their set but you certainly couldn’t tell by the way they played. Bantering with the crowd without sounding forced or contrived, Hemlock did a damn fine job of not only taking an unsuspecting crowd and making them care, but also of getting them into songs that most of them had never heard of. You have to respect a band that can get people who have never heard of them to sing along with them.
What better way to follow up some updated oldschool thrash metal than with good old-fashioned New York hardcore from legends like Full Blown Chaos? Showcasing some of the new material of their Ferret Records debut, Heavy Lies the Crown, Full Blown Chaos took Hemlock’s “Wall of Death” and converted it to a circle pit as Clevo’s hardcore faithful showed that strength is not always in numbers. Full Blown Chaos showed their appreciation of that sentiment by paying homage to Cleveland’s own Ringworm, who frontman Ray Mazzola cited as one of their “all-time favorite bands”. With a steady mix of the new material as well as some select cuts off of 2004’s Wake the Demons, Full Blown Chaos kept the brutality surging while keeping it all stripped-down, grungy, and straight off of the streets.
Alabama Thunderpussy then took to the stage and reminded everybody what metal is all about. The southern rock sound was a change of pace from FBC’s hardcore rage, but no one on the southern scene does it quite like ATP. Reaching back in the vaults all the way to 1999’s River City Revival while still showcasing the material off of their latest release, Open Fire, Alabama Thunderpussy reminded everybody in the house just what it is to be metal and doing it with their eyes set firmly on their own special mix of down-home sentimentality and heavy metal ass kicking, with the biggest receptions of the night reserved for their current single, “Words of a Dying Man” and their poignant shoutout to the troops, “Valor”. THIS is rock and roll. If you don’t know Alabama Thunderpussy, you need to. Check them out at www.atprva.com or http://www.myspace.com/atpva.
After some thrash metal, hardcore and badass southern metal, just about the only thing left to make this night of metal complete was some death metal – and that’s exactly what Obituary brought. At the forefront of the death metal movement since the 80s, Obituary continue to show that their hiatus during the 90s took nothing away from these guys and they stand poised to take back their rightful place atop the death metal scene with their new release, Xecutioner’s Return, which, referring to the band’s original name, is a call out to their faithful. They thundered their way onto the stage and took this show home.
At first glance, I must admit that the pairing of Alabama Thunderpussy and Obituary struck me as a bit odd. There’s certainly no denying ATP’s power, but would it really hold up when paired side by side with the death metal venom of Obituary? Thanks to everyone involved in putting together this tour for showing me, and everybody else in attendance, that it does.