Old school trash metal has experienced a bit of a resurgence in the last decade. Bands like Havok, Evile, Municipal Waste and Bonded By Blood are leading the charge and its current popularity has caused many thrash veterans like Death Angel, Testament and Exodus to release some of their best new material in years and have hit the road to support it.
Thrash pioneers Kreator and Overkill are the latest to jump on the bandwagon, currently out on the road bringing their masterful assault of old school thrash to the metal masses on the “Legends Of Thrash” tour. The tour consists of Kreator, Overkill and newcomers Warbringer and if it hits your town, it is a metal and moral imperative that you attend.
To the delight of the metal hordes in the Pittsburgh area, the tour made a stop at The Altar Bar and the metal community turned out in droves to see the show. In fact, so many faithful showed up, that the venue was forced to open the balcony area which was scheduled to be closed to accommodate the ever growing line at the door.
Starting things off were California natives Warbringer as lead singer John Kevill announced “We have come here to rip this place apart!”
The band proceeded to deliver a devastating set of stunning old school thrash; Kevill is a visually expressive madman who uses every inch of the stage like he owns it, even crawling on the amps and barricades to touch the legions of enthusiastic fans.
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The rest of the band were at the top of their game as they blast through “Living Weapon,” “Scars Remain,” “Turning Of The Gears,” “Towers Of The Serpent” and fan favorite “Combat Shock” with authority, at one point stopping to call out the moshers, by saying “The pits in Canada were better than this and you guys don’t want to be out done by Canada do you?”
The crowd took the challenge personally and unleashed hell in the form of one of the most brutal pits in metal history.
Up next is a band that truly lives up to the moniker legends of thrash- Bay Area titans Overkill.
“Hello From The Gutter,” is an obvious favorite that saw the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs. They stopped between “Necroshine” and “Rotten To The Core,” so “Blitz” could address the crowd to say “You guys look like an old school crowd, that was born and bred on this shit and my Pittsburgh is rotten to the core.” They continued on, laying down sweltering versions of “Ironbound,” “Overkill” and closer “Thanx For Nothing.”
The band exited the stage briefly to immediate chants of “Overkill,” before returning to do a couple of encores. “Blitz” took to the mic, smiling, saying “I can smell ya, but I can’t hear ya,” to a deafening response.
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He continued on to say “Playing in a church proves God is a thrash fan. We got one left, so hold on tight Mutherfuckers.” Their set drew to a close with their cover of the Subhuman’s classic “Fuck You!” that had the crowd belting out the chorus “We don’t care what you say…Fuck You!” and losing their minds one last time in the pit.
Germany’s Kreator were next and from the crushing opening notes of “Phantom Antichrist” the crowd was going berserk, splitting into two parts with moshers in the most hardcore pits of the night on one side and crowd surfers and stage divers on the other. At one point there were so many surfers that they were literally raining down on the press/security pit. Most of them then jumped up on stage to dive back into the crowd.
They plowed into earthquake-inducing renditions of Kreator classics “Coma Of Souls,” “Endless Pain,” “Pleasure To Kill” and “Hordes Of Chaos,” stopping only long enough for frontman Miland Petrozza to say “It’s been way too fucking long. Now let me hear you.”
His stage presence and ability to work a crowd are abundantly clear, often working the crowd into an absolute frenzy and raising the volume level without ever saying a word. He can do this just through the use of hand and arm gestures.
They continued to pound out pummeling versions of Kreator standards “Enemy Of God,” “Violent Revolution” and closer “United In Hate” to an overwhelming audience response. The band returned to the stage with Miland flying the flag of hate. He divided the crowd into sections and had each trying to be louder than the other before breaking into encores “Flag Of Hate” and “Tormentor.”
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The crowd took full advantage of their last chance to go crazy and formed a mosh pit that encompassed the entire floor, beginning to swirl into spiraling oblivion.
Despite a few microphone problems during Overkill’s set and the music being so loud that the vocals sometimes got lost in the mix at times, every band put on a command performance of the highest caliber; it’s nice to see that after nearly 30 years in the business the bands that defined the genre for so long still have what it takes to put on one hell of a show.
It’s also reassuring to know that new bands like Warbringer will carry the torch for years to come.