Venue: Gramercy Theatre (New Yotk, NY)
Opener: Vital Remains, Warbringer, Enfold Darkness, Sacrificial Slaughter, Praetorian
Label: Mascot Records
There was quite bit of “buzz” around the return of Pestilence to these shores among my immediate circle of friends in the Metal community and while they were never a band I followed, these folks interest alone helped to firm up my own curiosity in checking out something new to my Metal ears. Stylistically the band is listed as Death Metal but they incorporate elements of Jazz and Fusion to their sound. Their return to NYC for the first time hitting the region in sixteen years would come with a bevy of bands along for the ride. Featured tonight would be local support Praetorian along with Sacrificial Slaughter, Enfold Darkness, Vital Remains and Warbringer. I almost missed this show since it was originally listed as being a late evening show after some discussion about it being cancelled altogether. Sometimes the Gramercy Theatre holds Metal events very late in the evening as we found them doing with Ensiferum who played at 12:30 one time. My schedule kept me from seeing the local openers and Sacrificial Slaughter but I would get in just in time to see Enfold Darkness take the stage. Here is how what I caught took place.
Enfold Darkness: This would be my first time checking out this not too long ago signing to Sumerian Records and what I got from their set was a solid level of Death Metal with a “core” feel to it. Maybe a little too much like Black Dahlia Murder and not quite much like The Faceless in terms of technical diversity but still a band that approached their set with a great level of energy and interest in winning over new fans. I think that they worked well for one of the openers on this tour and perhaps we shall get a little longer view of them and a better idea when the next Summer Slaughter comes around if they are a part of the evening’s menu. The band hails from Tennessee and has one album out entitled “Our Cursed Rapture”. Next up was Vital Remains who I had caught before.
Vital Remains: The last time that I saw Vital Remains in concert was when the omnisciently evil Deicide came a calling to NYC and they were a very good choice for this show even if the fans were lamenting that it was not a bigger package in terms of bands being offered up. Hey, sometimes you get seven bands and other times you get three. If memory serves me correctly, that particular show found the guys without one of their members Dave Suzuki who was not present once again. This makes the only original member of the band being Tony Lazaro but he does have some good support for his evil cause with singer Scott Wily. The front man seems to love being up on the stage and knows how to get the crowd moving to their sound. It was impressive to watch and I say this as a marginal fan of their work. Those who love them seem to be okay with the current touring roster so perhaps some fulltime memberships will be offered and the band can continue successfully onto their next chapter. Only time will tell. The bands latest album is “Icons Of Evil” which came out in 2007. The band has also released a DVD called “Evil Death Live” which is a good way to absorb what they are all about if you cannot get to an appearance any time soon. Time for some Warbringer.
Warbringer: To be honest with you, I really felt that Warbringer had brought a lot of people into the venue this evening and that should be no surprise to anyone since the band seems to have a very rabid fan base around these parts. I give them credit for being able to keep everyone’s interest with their New School vibe of the Old School Thrash ethos and I can surely attest as to how energetic they are on the stage. It was not too long ago when I last saw Warbringer and that was for the Overkill show back in May, but their set was very short. Singer John Kevill announced the public that they would be back and it was soon posted on their various sites how they would be in the Direct Support slot for this Pestilence tour. Finally all their hard work had paid off and NYC was going to get an absolutely lethal dose of what Warbringer was all about. Or were they? The band opened up with “Jackal” and stirred the mosh pit up to frenzy with “Living In A Whirlwind” and while the crowd was going crazy the band would end their set after only six songs citing that they were out of time. The crowd did not like this at all but did get their circle pit going on for “Total War”, “Shoot To Kill” and the closing “Combat Shock”. The night was running late even though it had started early based on a total of six bands and Pestilence had to get onstage to entertain the crowd. Sadly a good number of fans that were only there for Warbringer opted to leave the show area after the band had finished while some of their number headed down to the merchandise area so they could meet with the band. Warbringer can often be found around their table after gigs and this goes a long way with their fan base. Of course I still cannot understand the person’s willingness to leave before a particular band comes on or arriving after some others have played. For my money, I want to absorb every moment that I can whenever possible.
Pestilence: With Pestilence back in action after a long break of sixteen years, the bands founder Patrick Mameli was intent on doing this with vengeance. The bands latest molten work is entitled “Resurrection Macabre” and its some intense stuff that is sure to please the fans that have been waiting on new music since “Spheres”. That album itself had been recently remastered and reissued by the folks over at Metal Mind Productions. The band finds returning bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling, their new drummer Yuma Van Eekelen and guitarist Patrick Uterwijk and from the moment that they took the stage it was a dizzying display of technical Metal acumen. As I mentioned I was very new to their material so was taking every moment in as an education from a returning master at the craft. Their set list was delivered to perfection but there was very little banter from Mameli during the show outside of nods of approval that the fans had chosen to come out. With the new album getting such praise from their loyalists, it was not a surprise to find that the larger core of the performance this evening would come from this release. No less than five numbers of the delivered nine would find presentation. The bands time on stage did seem to move quickly and before you knew it you were on your way back home ready to approach another Metal day.
To close this narrative up I wanted to share a few thoughts that I could not get out of my head and the first would be “where was everyone”? This was a dismal showing of support by the Metal Republic and one that rivaled last years God Dethroned and Abigail Williams gigs in terms of the support it got in the Big Apple. I really expected more to come out based on the wide variety of talent and the fact that Pestilence had not been here in so long a time. I knew that both Danzig and The Scorpions were playing the following night at venues easily accessible by the Metal fans but this particular grouping of bands appeals to a slightly different audience and hence should have found an attendance to be reckoned with as opposed to what we got. Don’t be surprised if its some time before we see Pestilence again thanks to this kind of attendance. I remember how shows by Iron Savior and Grave Digger had similar numbers if not less when they played and neither has been back since. While we live in interesting financial times in terms of what we can spend money on, if you love the Metal shows then its up to you to keep the bands in play and have them return again and again.
For me this was a good lead into a very interesting coming week as Winger would perform Sunday, Three Friends and Uriah Heep were all scheduled to play shows at B.B. King Blues Club one after the other. Bring it on I say.
Warbringer Set List:
2. Living In A Whirlwind
3. Severed Reality
4. Total War
5. Shoot To Kill
6. Combat Shock
Pestilence Set List:
1. Horror Detox
2. Devouring Frenzy
3. Chemo Therapy
4. Dehydrated I & II
5. Hate Suicide
6. The Process Of Suffocation
7. Resurrection Macabre
8. Land of Tears
9. Out of the Body
This had to be a funny site to those passers by this evening. Come on inside and get your fill of Pestilence.
I didn’t really have the chance to get any more of the fun moments around the scenes like I have been trying to do of late so I promise to make it up to you next time around. We did meet up with Ross Dolan from Immolation who was hitting this show with Wrath from the band Averse Sefira. You might recall the two bands performing with Rotting Christ a few years ago over at B.B. King’s.
Sending us off is Scott Wiley from Vital Remains. Bring it on home Scotty. Thanks man.
Official Website: http://pestilence.nl
Official Website: http://www.myspace.com/warbringer
Official Website: http://www.vitalremains.com
Official Website: http://www.enfolddarkness.com
Official Website: http://www.sacrificialslaughter.com