Destruction – March 18, 2014 – The Palladium, Worcester, MAWednesday, 19th March 2014
Ah, the day after a major drinking holiday in Massachusetts. Saint Patrick’s Day can be a festive occasion for some and a major imbibing excursion which leads into a massive hangover for others. Tuesday night would be the start of another North American headlining run for German thrashers Destruction, their first tour here in quite a while due to struggles in gaining reputable booking representation (i.e. actually making sure they’ll get paid for their work). Fortunate for us metalheads, the ardent ones look at a middle of the week night to go to a show as a marathon and not a sprint, willing to sacrifice hours of sleep, end of winter chilliness, or said hangover the next day, to get into work for the sake of the scene.
Three local bands would open the proceedings, making for a long night as the doors opened at 7 p.m. Each getting 20 minute sets, the only one of the three to make any cursory impression to the positive would be Black Mass, a trio with a guitarist/vocalist in Brendan O’Hare who could be a dead ringer for Phil Rind during his early Ignorance/Surf Nicaragua days and musically injecting a lot of Slayer, Death Angel, and Flotsam & Jetsam into their originals. Sandwiched to the left and right of them would be openers Scourge, who had two vocalists that appeared to be out barking one another in a dog fight and Nemecide, whose five-piece deathcore sound was buried thanks to the high triggered bass drums and death growl/hardcore scream vocals which made everything sound worse than a computer modem trying to make a connection to a landline.
Widow would be hitting the Massachusetts area for the first time, a North Carolina trio (sense a theme here?) with more of a traditional metal-meets-LA hard rock sound. Genuinely excited to be on stage, the band roared through six songs, including opener “Take Hold of the Night,” “Lady Twilight,” and “An American Werewolf in Raleigh.” Guitarist Chris Bennett and vocalist/bassist John E. Wooten IV bounced around happily on the stage, the crowd respectfully taking in their songs and occasionally headbanging or waving their fists in the air. They certainly handled the ‘odd band’ slot well, considering the heavy thrash/death lineup, and expect them to make some inroads as the climb up the ranks.
Next up were Brazil’s Krisiun. It’s open to debate whether there’s much of a melodic aspect to their material, or even a separation of songs for that matter. In a live setting, it’s all about pure adrenaline, unbridled aggression, and blasting mania to the max. And that’s pretty much what the trio did for 55 minutes. The 100 odd-plus attendees on the floor gave the band massive pit action, but darned if I could make heads or tails of anything from their massive catalog of albums or bassist/vocalist Alex Camargo’s exhortations.
At 11:10, the intro music started and soon Destruction hit the stage with “Thrash ‘Til Death.” Bassist/vocalist Schmier would lambast the sound crew at the venue right after the final notes of that track ended, being unable to hear anything remotely close to the music they played to the crowd through their monitors (déjà vu moment from the Boston show a few years back). After a couple of minutes the mix would be better, and the band soldiered through a lengthy 80 minute set of newer and older material. Two songs from the new album that received decent attention were “Spiritual Genocide” and “Carnivore,” while we all come to know and love the familiar strains of “Nailed to the Cross,” “Eternal Ban,” “Release from Agony,” and “Hate Is My Fuel.”
What amazes me most about the band is not only Schmier and Mike Sifinger’s abilities to race around from all corners of the stage to entertain, but also the fine precision and machine-like timing of drummer Vaaver (who also killed in a drum solo spot) as he truly is one of the best thrash percussionists in the business. Surprises included “Death Trap” from the Infernal Overkill days and “Life without Sense,” as the encore included mainstays “Curse the Gods” and “The Butcher Strikes Back.”
We left satisfied in knowing that German thrash is here to stay. Day one complete in leveling the audience.