Concert review: Over Kill, Prong & A Darker Day live at Mavericks, Ottawa (25/09/14)
It was a beautiful sunny autumn day on Thursday, September 25, 2014 when I decided once again to see an energizing show in the small metal pub Mavericks in downtown Ottawa. New Jersey thrash metal legends Over Kill played for the very first time in the Canadian capital and were supported by crossover thrash and groove metal veterans Prong from New Jersey as well as by a local crossover thrash metal band A Darker Day.
Around 7:35 PM, A Darker Day hit the stage and delivered a truly energizing set around thirty minutes despite the fact that there was a considerable lack of space on stage due to the giant stage structures of the main act tonight. Still, the four men tried to move as much as they possibly could and interacted in a joyous way with the steadily growing crowd. Especially the sympathetic bassist and the vivid drummer who would also perform most of the vocals conquered the stage and the crowd by storm. They felt visibly at ease with what they described as a big honour and one of the greatest moments in their career to open for their own personal idols. Some people in the crowd already started to bang their heads, raise their fists up in the air and sing a long to a few pitiless thrash metal anthems. This opening act was so enthusiastic that I’m already looking forward to see them again. I also hope that the quartet will come around with a first physical release anytime soon. These future local legends are definitely worth your attention and support.
Only twenty minutes later, the trio Prong went on stage to deliver a forty-five minute set of their greatest hits plus a few new songs from the last record ‘’Runing Lives’’. Prong were even more energizing than the excellent opening act. Guitarist and singer Tommy Victor interacted well with the crowd and motivated a few dozen people to start a few energizing circle and mosh pits. New drummer Arturo Cruz fits well to the other two members and had a lot of fun on stage. He was almost constantly smiling or making funny faces, got up after almost each song to motivate the crowd to get in action and threw a few drum sticks into the crowd as well. Bassist Jason Christopher simply looked cool and mean on stage and had a truly wild appearance. His bass play was just as tight and vivid. Especially the last few songs of the set such as ‘’Another Worldly Device’’, ‘’Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Necks’’ and ‘’Power Of The Damager’’ made the crowd go wild. I definitely wouldn’y have minded the band to play a couple more tunes. Prong surely are one of these bands that are much better on stage than on a regular studio record and I would really like to see them again. On a sidenote, the merchandise section sold the recent and hard to find live in studio record ‘’Unleashed In The West’’ which portrays the unchained live spirit of the band very well. You can also listen to this official bootleg on the band’s Bandcamp presence.
After a break around twenty-five minutes, the first notes of ‘’XDᵐ’’ announced the arrival of Over Kill in front of a crowd of several hundred fans in a packed metal pub. Hell definitely broke loose with the pitiless opener ‘’Armorist’ where the crowd already started to yell along. When the band then went on to deliver the band hymn ‘’Overkill’’, the whole place went mad including ferocious headbanging, fast moving mosh pits and even some occasional stage diving that had to be intercepted by the security even though the fans really tried to respect and help each other as much as possible. Over Kill seemed to be deeply impressed by the enthusiastic fan reactions and so was I. After having seen quite a few shows at Mavericks, I must admit that this concert had by far the most vivid ambience. The entire crowd cheered the band’s name after every song, no matter if the band played more recent stuff like “Pig”, ‘’Electric Rattlesnake’’ and “Bring Me the Night” or classic tunes like “Rotten to the Core”, “Wrecking Crew” or the energizing closer and The Subhumans cover “Fuck You”. At a certain point, even singer Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth needed a break and admitted that he would have a heart attack if he continued to perform at the pace of the unchained crowd that was constantly asking for more. From time to time, the singer even left the stage to take some short breaks during a few longer instrumental passages as in “Ironbound”. On the other side, there was nearly no break between the regular set and the three heavily celebrated encores and the singer’s angry, hoarse and raw vocals remained in top shape until the end of the show after a set of sixteen tunes in around ninety-five minutes. At this point, the band had not only managed to exceed the great performances by the two opening acts and to conquer the crowd by storm but to deliver one of the most memorable performances ever at Mavericks. Most of the band members are already in their mid-fifties but their performance had been at least as energizing as a show given by some unchained teenagers. After this show, I was bathed in sweat, had lost my voice and was also physically tired but I felt liberated as if I had fallen head-first into the Fountain of Youth. I decided to grab a limited and exclusive Canada Tour shirt, went back home by bus and couldn’t stop listening to the band’s latest killer album “White Devil Armory” even hours after this incredible show.
Dear readers of my blog,
here comes my review of Anthrax' new DVD/BluRay release "Chile on hell" which is so far definitely my favourite release of the year. Enjoy!
Anthrax' "Chile On Hell" is not only the best live release so far this year but also the best show of the band that was captured by cameras and microphones. The Chilean crowd is simply out of this world. Right from the opening riffs of "Among The Living", the entire crowd is singing along to the melodies and lyrics of this track, is getting involved into a giant circle pit with some fans sitting on the shoulders of others and some devotees are even enlightening a big red Bengal fire. This incredible crowd never gets tired throughout the entire show and is celebrating classics, cover songs and new material alike. The enthusiastic admirers are contributing to several intense goosebump moments. It's incredible to hear them singing the entire pre-chorus and chorus of "Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)" before the song even gets started, to watch them doing Dio's famous horns sign during the intense rendition of "In The End", to see them doing an unchained wardance to "Indians", to hear them yelling out the chorus with Joey Belladonna during "In My World", to see them doing a big mosh pit during the Slayer cover "Raining Blood" which was dedicated to late Jeff Hanneman who died only days before this show and finally to see them celebrating enthusiastically to the closing Trust cover "Antisocial". I've never ever seen such a great crowd as they even beat several one hundred thousand unchained Brazilians celebrating Iron Maiden on their "Rock In Rio" record. Every single fan seems to get involved in passionate and yet respectful hysteria for two unforgettable hours. I've never wished that much that I had been at a concert than when I first watched this.
It's not only the amazing crowd that makes this release so memorable. I've seen several Anthrax shows and while they always perform with passion, I've never seen them so vivid as on this output. The amazing crowd reactions must have been contagious. Joey Belladonna is doing one of his finest vocal performances in a long time. I was surprised how clean his voice sounds on this release and how he even hits the high notes while running around and interacting constantly with the crowd. Hands down, this man is a gifted front man and entertainer and this is why I'm so glad he's back with Anthrax as nobody else compares to him. Scott Ian is constantly jumping and running around with a big smile on his face. His angry backing vocals are extremely solid and he even hits some higher notes in the opening of "In My World" that impressed me quite a lot. In addition to this, his killer riffs are still performed with passion and precision. Frank Bello is walking, headbanging and dancing around the stage and never ever stands still. His extremely enthusiastic vocal performance during "I'm The Man" is absolutely contagious and his bass play is very powerful. Charlie Benante's drumming is as tight as it can be and still looks effortless because he is having so much fun on stage. He keeps smiling and making funny faces throughout the entire show. He even gets to play a short drum solo right before "I'm The Man". It's just long enough to show his great talent and short enough to get the crowd moving for the energizing encore. Fellow drummers, please take notes on this essential, precise and short performance as nobody wants to listen to drum solos over six minutes or so. New guitarist Jonathan Donais plays very well but looks a little bit shier and more introspective than the other members. He's got his own personality I guess but he slightly feels out of place. I guess he simply needs some more time with the band to get used to this new situation. From a purely technical point of view, his performance is spot on though.
The set list of this concert is phenomenal. It contains the three best songs from the band's amazing last effort "Worship Music", the greatest classics including the six thrash metal milestones that open the legendary "Among The Living" release and a bunch of amazing cover tracks from AC/DC, Joe Jackson, Slayer, Stormtroopers Of Death and Trust. Some people keep complaing about the high number of cover songs during Anthrax' shows. If you take a look at the incendiary crowd reactions to these tracks and the way Anthrax performs these renditions, you do realize why these guys are still including so many of them and I don't want to miss these tracks. Anthrax' cover tracks have always been amazing in my opinion. On a sidenote, the DVD version of this release seems to omit two tracks from the original concert which are the Joe Jackson cover "Got The Time" as well as "Deathrider". It's possible that these tracks are included on the BluRay release though as I've read other reviews where analysts would talk about these songs as well. If you can choose between both versions, you should go for the BluRay variant.
From time to time, the outstanding concert is interrupted by very short sequences showing other Anthrax shows, the band backstage, fellow musicians commenting on thirty years of Anthrax, fans praising the band or Scott Ian on the set of a TV show. A couple of snippets from the band's last studio album are played during these sequences, for example "The Devil You Know", "The Giant" and "Judas Priest". These breaks are very short and only about one to two minutes long each and really don't bother the enjoyment of the energizing concert at all. It would have been interesting if the band had included a little documentary about its career as a bonus but that's not the case and this release only focuses on the music and a few short additional gimmicks.
From a technical point of view, the sound is crystal clear and yet absolutely authentic. One can hear the crowd very well but the vocals and the instruments also sound very sharp. It's definitely an honest live release as one can still hear a couple of small technical mistakes here and there. The image is perfect as well but some people might not like several quick cuts, shaky camera passages when Joey Belladonna is running around with a camera on stage and a few split-screen passages. I think these little technical elements make the whole release even more diverting, energizing and original. These elements are not overused as on Iron Maiden's "Death On The Road" release for example. If these elements bother you, I guess you're really just nitpicking.
In the end, this concert and release come extremely close to perfection. If the DVD release had included the two missing tracks and if Jonathan Donais' performance had been a little bit more enthusiastic, I would have given the perfect score to this output. Still, this is an absolutely essential release for any Anthrax fan, any thrash metal maniac and anyone who cares about authentic, energizing and original rock or metal music in general. Believe me, you won't regret anything if you purchased this release as soon as you possibly can. For me, this is by far the best metal release in the year 2014 and already my very favourite live record ever. You may argue that I shouldn't judge this output shortly after its initial release but this is one of these few and special releases that simply blow you away from the very first second and I couldn't stop celebrating this masterpiece. If you listen and watch this release, just make sure you don't destroy your home by getting caught in a giant Chilean mosh.1 2
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