The names Revolver and Golden Gods are synonymous with great heavy metal so when Revolver magazine announced the 2014 Golden Gods Tour with headliner Black Label Society and supporting acts Down, The Devil You Know and Butcher Babies, fans were lining up in droves to get their tickets.
Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society are out on the road in support of what is undoubtedly their best album so far in Catacombs Of The Black Vatican, as are Down with their newest endeavour Down IV-Part II and relative newcomers Butcher Babies and former Killswitch Engage frontman Howard Jones’s new band The Devil You Know are both taking the world by storm.
Fans in Pittsburgh were fortunate enough to have the tour make a stop at its premier concert venue Stage AE on a dreary, rain soaked night in May. The dedicated fans stood in a torrential downpour and even though they were soaked, it did not dampen their mood one bit. There were so many fans in fact, that as the Butcher Babies took the stage the line was still halfway around the block.
That didn’t stop them from delivering a pummeling six song set of brutal melodic deathcore as the deranged fans slowly trickled in. As always, the two charismatic frontwomen stole the show, demanding not just some, but all the attention, which means their backing band, who are a solid as they come, often got overlooked.
Hedi and Carla prowled every inch of the stage, amps, monitors and barricades, thrashing about like wild animals, demonstrating hair windmills unlike any ever seen before and reached out to touch the hands of the rabid crowd. They paused briefly before “Jesus Needs More Babies For His War Machine” for Hedi to say, “We’ve been here many times before, so we are like family now brothers and sisters. So let me see you fucking jump.”
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The ravenous audience answered with a resounding how high and jumped hard enough to shake the concrete building. They stopped again between “Mr. Slowdeath” and closer “Magnolia Blvd” for Heidi to say, “Thaks for coming early to party with us. Please stop at our merch both and have a drink with us.” She continued, “This is our last one, so let’s see those fucking pits.” Wish granted and a crushing performance as always.
The task of upping the ante fell to former Killswitch Engage vocalist Howard Jones and his new project called Devil You Know. Luckily, they were more than up to the challenge laid before them. Jones surrounded himself with an impressive list of technical musicians, from an even more impressive list of established bands.
Although they’ve only been together a short time, the chemistry between them was undeniable and the energy in the air was electric and Jones never once stood still, roaming the stage like he owned it as the band pounded out a devastating seven song set of melodic hardcore. With titles like “My Own,” “Embracing The Tourture,” “A Mind Insane” and “A New Beggining,” which it was for Jones.
He addressed the crowd before closer “Shut It Down” to say, “This is our last song. Thank you for coming. Now fuck shit up!” Then just like that, insanity ensued, unleashing a cacophony of swirling aggression. Jones punctuated their powerhouse set by stage diving into the melee before him.
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As the lights dimmed and the intro music began for Down, the smell of marijuana heavily permeated the air, signifying that the fans of Pittsburgh were already Hailing The Leaf and serving notice that the smoke rising into the air that night was not of an artificial nature, but rather from nature.
Their earthquake inducing set contained all the raw energy of a Pantera or C.O.C. show and then some and Phil Anselmo’s larger than life stage persona could not be contained. He dedicated “Lifer” to Dimebag Darrell and Dave Brockie from GWAR, garnering a massive response that nearly brought the house Down.
Anselmo stopped before “Hail The Leaf” to say, “This one goes out to all the weed smokers out there,” then jokingly added “If you don’t smoke weed, you should start,” triggering a non-stop barrage of crowd surfers and pits more brutal than a war zone.
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At last, the moment everyone had been waiting for had finally arrived. From the moment the air raid sirens hit and the curtain fell, chaos reigned supreme. The opening notes of “My Dying Time” set the crowd into a perpetual state of motion with crowd swells often taking people completely off their feet.
Wylde, on his raised platform took center stage, shredding like a motherfucker. He was flanked on all sides by full Marshall stacks that ran the entire length of the stage and a massive BLS banner that served as a backdrop. It simply doesn’t get any more metal than that.
Wylde’s mandatory guitar solo after “Damn The Flood” is always one of the highlights of the show and drives the fans crazy. It was almost 15 minutes long and saw him using the entire stage as well as standing on the monitors in the crowd.
Wylde stopped to give the band their proper introductions and they were quite comical, getting big laughs along the way before taking it down a notch on “Angel Of Mercy” and “In This River,” during which he tinkled the ivories of a Baby Grand piano and as usual dedicated it to his lost brother in arms Dimebag Darrell Abbott- another of the show’s more magical moments.
From there the band launched into some of Black Label Society’s biggest hits including “The Blessed Hellride,” “Concrete Jungle,” “Suicide Messiah,” which saw giant BLS beach balls dropped from the rafters, only to be destroyed moments later and closer “Stillborn,” which saw monstrous plumes of smoke billowing into the air.
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As the smoke poured and the feedback wailed, Wylde stood defiantly on his platform, first holding up his Flying V guitar, then taking off his jacket and thrusting his vintage BLS colors towards the heavens one final time for all to see as the smoke and sound slowly faded away.
Although the fans were hoping for Phil Anselmo to join them on stage for an encore of Pantera’s “I’m Broken” like they had done for the last few nights of the tour, there would be no encore that night and that was fine. As those diehards filed back out into the rain, giant smiles were the norm as they had all just been thoroughly entertained to the fullest.