The aptly named Legends Of Thrash tour made a stop at the Granada in Lawrence on a chilly Thursday night and performed to an unexpectedly enthusiastic turnout of metal heads, young and old alike. The night was full of riffing, guitar solos, blastbeats and lots of smiling, moshing maniacs.
The show wasted no time in getting things going, with California thrash maniacs Warbringer. Coming off the release of their fourth album "IV: Empires Collapse," the band showcased a side of their musicality not seen before. The album, which comprised the majority of their set, has a very strong heavy metal influence, although it still has some breakneck thrash moments - the kind of which Warbringer does better than most of their recent contemporaries. Their performance was spot-on and the mixing was great, very easy to hear vocalist John Kevill and and the guitar solos came through great. Warbringer's drummer Carlos Cruz (ex-Hexen, ex-Mantic Ritual) was one of the most impressive drummers I've ever seen in a band. "That dude has serious chops" is the understatement of the year. Warbringer can still blast off at lightspeed, but now they've shown they can take a page from Slayer's "South of Heaven" and slow it down but keep it heavy. The future for this band looks exciting.
The most impressive part of Overkill is that they're one of the first thrash metal bands in America, but they're faster and heavier now than they've ever been. Opening with 1987's "Deny The Cross" sent the crowd into a frenzy of moshing and singing along that didn't let up for a second. Overkill has one of the most impressive discographies in all of thrash metal, and this co-headlining set touched on the classics, the contemporary greats and even a couple of left-field surprises. One surprise in the set came from their performance of 1999's "Necroshine" - the track itself isn't necessarily a rarity or anything, and it comes from an era that Overkill was experimenting more towards groove metal, but it just came across as insanely heavy - maybe another nod to the stellar sound mixing from the Granada that night? As Bobby Blitz and crew ripped through their standard set-closer for almost 30 years of a cover of Subhumans' "Fuck You," it's apparent that Overkill is quite possibly the best American thrash band that is still active from the 80s.
When Kreator played the Beaumont Club last year, the only fault I could find was they came across muffled because of the sound system. Not only did the band sound clear and vicious, they outdid themselves and put on a devastating performance. Whether it "Endless Pain" from their debut album, or "Phantom Antichrist" from their fantastic album last year, each Kreator song was performed with just as much ferocity and technical brilliance as the last. Frontman Mille Petrozza is legendary for his unique vocals and his stage presence - he was constantly playing to the crowd and getting people to circle pit all night long. There was actually a part during "United In Hate" that had the crowd vocalizing along with the guitar melody - I don't think I've seen it done with that much vigor in the crowd outside of an Iron Maiden show. Mille raised the Kreator flag, as he always does, before launching into "Flag of Hate" and "Tormentor," the last two songs of the night, and the weary but appreciative crowd gave their all one last time. The crowd left everything they had on the floor for these three bands, and it made for one of the best all-around heavy metal shows that this area has seen in quite some time.
1/11 - Skull Fist
1/16 - Reel Big Fish?
1/18 - Mayhem
2/12 - You Blew It
2/19 - 1349