The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts was invaded by thrash on Saturday when Death Angel and friends rolled into town. In typical thrash show fashion, this lineup made for an evening full of constant energy and fun.
By the time I got to The Middle East, I missed local opener Lich King. I've heard a lot of good things about them so I'm kind of bummed I missed them, but considering the strength of the touring lineup, it didn't really deter too much from the evening. Instead, my evening started off with Chicago thrashers Diamond Plate. Diamond Plate is one of those bands that don't really do anything me for on record, but in an a live environment they absolutely destroy. I honestly forgot got how good their guitarist is. There were numerous times during the set where my jaw was on-the-floor because of the solos he was playing. They also have some nice Pantera-esque grooves to break up the speed of their music, which makes their music that much more crushing and powerful. Diamond Plate set the tone for the evening with a frenzied and incredibly enjoyable performance right out of the gate.
Battlecross hit the stage next. These guys have been my top discovery of 2013 with their perfect blend of thrash and Gothenburg melodic death metal. Just like when I saw that Mayhem Fest earlier this year, Battlecross mightily impressed live. Their energy is infectious and the whole band just sounded amazing. Kyle "Gumby" Gunther goes balls-out on vocals and is a hilarious frontman who gets the crowd completely into the set (At one point in time, Gumby was thanking all the bands on the tour and said "Who are you guys here to see?" before thanking Death Angel and someone in the front yelled "Battlecross" and he just said no and made them apologize for not saying Death Angel.) Musically, the whole band is just mind-blowingly talented. Both guitarists ripped and bassist Don Slater was audible in the mix the whole time, which was badass because he is fantastic and deserves some love. Adam Pierce from All Shall Perish is filling-in on drums for this tour and did a great job going a bit out of his comfort zone with Battlecross's music. The setlist was pretty much the same as it was on Mayhem Fest, but "Never Coming Back" and "Beast" from War of Will were nice additions and set closer "Push Pull Destroy" is amongst my favorite live songs ever. I really hope these guys do a headliner in the near future, I need to see them for play longer than 25 minutes.
Boston's own technical death metal/thrash act Revocation were next. This was the third time I've seen them since July and once again, they killed it. The setlist was hardly different than at Summer Slaughter in August, but with a band that performs as well as Revocation it doesn't really matter. There was some sound issues during "The Hive" and "Teratogenesis", but they were fixed by the time they played "Fracked" and the band barreled through the last four songs of the set flawlessly. Once again, the hometown crowd was absolutely raucous. I'm really glad these guys are finally starting to gain a bigger following. They've been pumping out consistently excellent records for years and with all the exposure they've gotten on various major tours, it's paying off and I couldn't be happier to see these guys succeed. Revocation delivered all the technical proficiency and whirlwind energy that I've come to except from their live performances. Out of all the Massachusetts metal exports, Revocation shines the brightest.
3 Inches of Blood was up next. It's been two and a half years since the last time I've seen these guys live and I honestly forgot how good they are. Their brand of corny, traditional heavy metal is just an absolute blast to listen and leaves you with a big grin the entire time they're on stage. Vocalist Cam Pipes still sounds amazing and somehow hasn't blown out his voice after all these years belting out his signature high-pitched vocals night after night. This set was particularly enjoyable for me because they dusted off a couple of rarely-played tracks off my two favorite albums of theirs, Advance and Vanquish and Fire Up the Blades. "Demon's Blade" and "Crazy Nights" are two songs that I never expected them to play live and fit in nicely amongst similarly blistering set staples like "Deadly Sinners" and "The Goatrider's Horde". Hopefully it won't be another two and a half years before I see these strapping Canadian lads again.
Death Angel closed out the evening. I'm going to be completely honest, Death Angel is one of the old-school thrash bands I hadn't really given the time of day in the past. There really is no good reason for it, I just never really bothered to check out them out. Well over the past couple weeks when I finally did check out their stuff and especially after seeing them perform last night, I realized I fucked up big time. Death Angel is damn near perfect thrash metal. They've got an almost punk-level of energy, ripping guitar solos galore and unique vocals from Mark Osegueda. Their live performance was absolutely stunning. They sounded exactly like they do on record and had a commanding stage presence that was reminiscent of other classic thrash bands. Unfortunately as great as they were, I had to leave early to catch the last train out of Cambridge so I had to leave about halfway through their set. The entire show was just an absolute blast and served as a reminder why thrash will be always be my favorite genre of metal.
Diamond Plate 8.5/10
3 Inches of Blood 8.5/10
Death Angel 9/10
3/14 Dropkick Murphys
4/10 At the Gates/Converge