Concert Review

Metal Alliance Tour 2017 in Pittsburgh: Thrash Metal Rules The Night (Invidia, Black Fast, Havok, Crowbar, and Overkill)

Invidia (by Alan Welding)

Born from the desert of Las Vegas, Invidia has hit a strong note with their debut “As The Sun Sleeps”.  Originally featuring lead singer Travis Johnson (Flatline/In This Moment), Evan Seidlitz (Vyces/Grimace/Thrown Into Exile) stepped in when Johnson’s bassist duties with In This Moment became too much to front a successful sideband.  The band has some heavy history with guitarist Brian Jackson (formerly of Skinlab), Matt Snell (formerly of Five Finger Death Punch), and ex-Skinlab guitarist Marcos Medina whom all worked on the recordings along with Johnson.  Invidia is definitely in it for the long haul, especially considering their addition of Seidlitz who has amazing chops as a frontman, not only vocally, but in performance presence as well, and Darren Badorine (Six Ounce Gloves) on drums. Playing Pittsburgh’s Club Diesel was not the exception, for it was apparent from the first chords and Evan’s monstrous voice that they came to take no prisoners.

Having had a bit of time to tour earlier with the band, Seidlitz has been able to develop the sound to more of his own, and it works tremendously.  Even in a less than stellar sound setting (Diesel was designed to be a nightclub) and lacking monitors, the band showed their tightness by overcoming these obstacles and sounding great.  The live performance of the tunes from “As The Sun Sleeps” seems to be a bit harder, grittier, and “thrashier” than the record, which is an improvement in my opinion.  The guitars were crunchy, the pre-programming down played, and the vocals brutal which made a dynamic start to an evening set up with killer riffs.  With plenty of dates left on the Metal Alliance Tour it’s safe to say one should get there early. (check out our interview with Evan on YouTube).

Black Fast (by Nick Fischer)

Opening their set with “Haunted Vigil,” a cut from their latest release Terms of Surrender, Black Fast wasted no time introducing themselves to the thrash hungry audience. As they masterfully worked their way through the stop/start passages towards the end of the song with a tightness that seemed to suck the air out of the room with every brief pause, it became apparent to anyone in attendance that this wasn’t about to be an easily forgettable performance.

The band immediately transitioned into the blistering track “To Propagate The Void,” without a word uttered to the crowd, possibly due to time constraints or frontman Aaron Akin needing to catch his breath after reeling off his 5,000-mile a minute vocal passages with a fervor that could be paralleled to demonic possession. The black metal tinged, odd timed main riff, backed by drummer Ross Burnett ripping through a well placed passage of blast beats, perfectly exemplified the progressive qualities Black Fast can bring to the table without sacrificing any of their potent aggression.

“Progenitors of Perdition,” the only track played from their self released debut Starving Out the Light, kicked off a powerful back half of their set, followed by a punishing performance of “Vacuous Idols.”

Black Fast stamped an exclamation point on the end of their time on stage with a flawless performance of “I Conspire,” a complex riff laden thrash piece from Terms of Surrender. The precision with with the aforementioned Aaron Akin and lead guitarist Trevor Johanson masterfully worked their way through the track was // . Wretched bassist Andrew Grevey, filling in on this run of dates, was no weak spot, handling the complex material with ease.

When I was asking Aaron Akin about their merch booth being tucked away in a dimly lit corner of the lighter traffic upstairs area of Diesel Club Lounge, he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “We’re band 2 out of 5.” If the upstart St. Louis based quartet continues to put on performances as intense and precise as the one they treated Pittsburgh to on Monday night, they’ll soon be out headlining tours of their own.

To quote a fan behind me at the end of the set: “Black Fast….. Fuck yeah.”

PMM Reporter Danielle Evans sat with the drummer, Ross Burnett, who when asked about his favorite part of this tour stated, “{We are only a few days in but all the shows have been cool. City side I’m excited for most of them really. We’re playing in the new masquerade venue which will be cool. All the bands on this tour are rad. We’re really good friends with the Havok dudes.”  As for new material, “Yeah we’ve been working on new material. It’s our first tour in months and the
last tour we did before this was in November. During that time off we’ve been working on new material. We’ve got some stuff in the bag. It’s gonna be heavy metal rock n roll”.  Definitely good news for Black Fast fans.

Havok (by Danielle Evans) Hailing from Colorado and plugging away at their game since 2004, David Sanchez and company have solidified a spot in thrash fans hearts.  Currently touring their latest effort  Conformicide, which was released on March 10, 2017, Havok has had some legendary shows in Pittsburgh.  (Editor’s note: The last time Havok was in with Battlecross at Cattivo they ate up more than half of their set pissing around with sound issues, leaving fans mega disappointed in a highly shortened set).  I have been a fan of Havok for years, and I never had the chance to see them prior to this show. Recently their van was broken into $19,000 of their gear was stolen, so I wasn’t even sure they were going to still play this tour. I was elated to find that they were. Unfortunately, I was super disappointed with their live set. It was a good show but it did not live up to my expectations at all. How could they not play anything from “Time Is Up”?! Perhaps under different circumstances, it would’ve been better – maybe next time Havok!  To help the band out go to  https://venmo.com/havokband

(If Venmo is unavailable in your area, you can donate via PayPal : petewebb2@yahoo.com).

Crowbar (by Alan Welding)

From my recollection, Crowbar has not graced Pittsburgh since 2014.  In fact, the consensus among many fans was how special the night was since they rarely get to our fine city.  They more than made up for their lack of presence lately by performing a truly heavy laden sludgey set that was so mired in the swamp that it was hard to pull out of…in other words, NOLA fantastic.  While nu-metal and grunge were making its mark in 1990, those in the know started to get into sludge metal bands that were way more down than a simple drop D tuning with a 7 string guitar.  Phil Anselmo’s contribution of Down has probably been the most well-known factor due to the combination of its original and current members also being in Eye Hate God, Corrosion of Conformity, Black Label Society and of course Crowbar. Guitarist and lead singer Kirk Windstein was with Down from 1991 to 2013, leaving to fully concentrate on Crowbar.

And we are richer for it.  Kirk was killer period.  His guitar playing was nothing less than sick and his voice was so deep and gravely you could set all of the PA turnpike on top of it.  Having original bassist, Todd “Sext T” Strange back was a sight and sound to witness and Matt Brunson’s guitar work was an amazing compliment to Windstein.  With performances of “To Build A Mountain”, “Plasmic and Pure”, and “Existence is Punishment” the band put an indelible mark on everyone lucky enough to be there.  With any luck, Crowbar will get back here much sooner somehow someway.

 

Overkill (by Danielle Evans): Brian of Invidia asked PMM editor Alan when the last time he saw Overkill was, “Wow, like ’87 in high school?”   These guys have been around for nearly 40 years, D. D. Verni and lead vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth have been towing the thrash line since 1980… legends! The New Jersey “Motorhead of Metal’s”  set was so incredibly solid. Not only was the set totally amazing, the vibe of the crowd was killer. The pit was OOC from the first note to last.  I stayed out of the pit for the most part but when “Elimination” came on, I couldn’t help myself! I can’t believe how killer their sound is after being around for so long. Like their brethren Anthrax, Metallica, Testament, Megadeth and Slayer they are still entertaining as hell and on top of their game. Their show was absolutely flawless and it exceeded my expectations.

 

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