Warbringer, Enforcer, Cauldron, Exmortus – January 7. 2016 – Trickshots, Clifton Park, NYSunday, 10th January 2016
Word got out very early concerning this four band package tour – announced late last summer through all the normal official band social media channels- so for most of the staff on this website, it’s a can’t miss tour. Sweden’s Enforcer hasn’t hit North America since supporting their debut Into the Night seven years ago (coincidentally with current tour mates Cauldron then as now), so taking on a two month long plus tour as co-headliners with California thrash act Warbringer is a sweet night of metal to undertake. Add in neo-classical thrash/death act Exmortus and you have the makings of a great start to 2016.
The third show of the tour would take place at Trickshots in Clifton Park, NY – a 2 hour plus drive for this reviewer, and a frequent venue for co-editor Kyle McGinn to take in a decent amount of shows at (unfortunately outside obligations precluded him for being in attendance tonight). Shows take place in a separate part of the building- as one side is an active billiards hall. Plenty of room for the bands to set up merchandise and the stage although cozy gets the job done for the musicians – plus a decent selection of pub food and alcohol libations.
Two local openers started the night around 7 pm. Suffice to say that One Day Waiting seemed very off-kilter for the main lineup proceedings. Imagine an amalgamation of alternative nu-metal with groove, as if Godsmack, Avenged Sevenfold, and some bro-core all met up together with strained, off key vocals. Maybe a couple of the karate-happy, crab-core pit fiends dug it, but most seemed puzzled as their 25-minute set drew to a close. Winter’s Burden quickly went on stage next, a three-piece without a bassist, making for an interesting death/thrash sound. Vocalist Tabbetha Winner may look prim and proper with her blonde locks, but her guttural delivery and good-natured quips (‘anyone want to line dance?’ a favorite) won over many of the initially skeptical. Would love to hear more of their material with a full lineup.
Exmortus are back again on the road supporting Ride Forth, and the quartet do not disappoint. Between the neo-classical shred axe play, showmanship on all fronts (the dual behind the back axe action, Mario’s stick tricks), and genuine passion for their craft, it’s easy to see why they are ascending up the ranks and gaining kudos from more than just the extreme or underground scene. Highlights include “For the Horde”, “Relentless”, their Beethoven instrumental “Moonlight Sonata (Act 3)” and closer “Metal Is King”. Musicianship can take you places – these gentlemen embody a fun spirit amid all the horns, warriors, and battles.
Cauldron took the stage next. Adorning shirts from The Rods and Nasty Savage, it’s clear to tell we are dealing with a trio deeply entrenched in their old school traditional metal. Their six song set seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye – many in the audience head banging away and singing the choruses to “Nitebreaker”, “No Return/In Ruin”, and the speedy “End of Time” as if it was 1985 once again. And the band also had a decent selection of vinyl albums beyond their own for purchase – always a good sign for fostering the metal community at large. Looking forward to whenever they are able to return for another tour and a longer set.
At the stroke of 10 pm, Enforcer took the stage. Fog enhances their synchronized guitar poses and head moves. Vocalist/guitarist Olof Wikstrand darts around all areas of the stage, eyes fixated on most up front who are equally as excited as the band is to be here. Encouraging all the right shouts, screams, and chorus supplementation, the quick hitting twofer “Destroyer” and “Undying Evil” from their latest From Beyond had the crowd entranced, and then “Mesmerized by Fire” set them off into another world. Their 50-minute set included “Scream of the Savage”, the epic “Katana”, the speed burner “Live for the Night”, and the galloping “Take Me Out of this Nightmare”. If there is any band that could resurrect the fun, the glory, and the will of heavy metal from the 1980’s and put this across convincingly to a modern, possibly skeptical audience – it’s Enforcer.
Ending the night would be Warbringer – as this is more of a ‘we’re back’ tour to get reacquainted with many who wondered if the band was still alive because of significant lineup shuffles. Rest assured, vocalist John Kevill and the boys can thrash with the best of them – as this live lineup would include Exmortus guitarist Jadran ‘Conan’ Gonzalez and Bonded by Blood bassist Jessie Sanchez, joining guitarist Adam Carroll and drummer Carlos Cruz. Obviously stirring up a pit song to song (some circle, some savage), everything from “Severed Reality” to “Demonic Ecstasy” and “Hunter-Seeker” hit the right energy spot. “Total War” ended the night, a celebration of the greatness that exists in the genre when many naysayers proclaim its demise.
The leather clad, denim and patch brigade who braved the cold would say otherwise. Carry the torch high, horns flown to the sky.