Venue: Gramercy Theatre (New York, NY)
Opener: Death Angel, Augury, Mutiny Within, Swashbuckle
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
It’s been a little over a year since we last saw Soilwork headlining the stages of the venues in NYC and for some that was a good thing because there was a time when the band was performing too often and forced to play a lot of the same material. Believe me, no one wants to get bored when they see the name Soilwork on the marquee so the fifteen month breather was going to make this something many of the Metal Republics fans were looking forward to. The show was going to be exciting for a number of different reasons and the first was that it was an 80% Nuclear Blast Records artist roster and found Death Angel as direct support while both Augury and Swashbuckle performed earlier sets. It was rounded out by Roadrunner Records newcomers Mutiny Within. With so much Metal to absorb I arrived super early on this hot summer night to be able to witness the onslaught in full. Here is how the “Panic Over North America” went for those who did not manage to secure a ticket.
Swashbuckle: Although I view them as more of a Death Metal band than a Pirate Metal one outside of their look I am clear on the very simple fact that Swashbuckle knows how to entertain the audience even when it’s this early in the set. The crowd was starting to build up as these scallywags blasted through their very brief set and having seen them before, I could tell that even their faster numbers were being delivered at a greater velocity. I originally was no too keen on the group since I think I was looking too much into them after seeing Alestorm in musical combat before but after a couple of more gigs I feel that they are a good opener with some interesting hooks. They keep the pirate motif in their dress and how singer/bassist Admiral Nobeard addresses the crowd. Their first album on Nuclear Blast Records is entitled “Back To The Noose” and I believe a follow up is coming soon since this has been out for many months now. Some of the crowd supported this very short time onstage and others who didn’t seem to care wandered down near the merchandise in the area below the stage. They were done before you knew it, and then Roadrunner’s own Mutiny Within would be on to keep the energy flowing.
Mutiny Within: These Roadrunner Records warriors are starting to find themselves on a number of solid bills and have performed with Sonata Arctica and Arch Enemy this year alone. That’s not a bad list of groups and tonight they sought to continue their Metal work for the Soilwork/Death Angel faithful. The changeovers tonight were on the quick side so the guys were playing very shortly after Swashbuckle had walked off and since they are only dealing with one album on this label it would be the core of their set list makeup. I don’t think its bad stuff and while some of my friends would disagree with me, I think the group has some potential and might impress us all the more going forward. The album is not bad at all, and it’s nice to see something like this coming out of the East Coast and not have it being the all too typical Metalcore project. I prefer clean vocals anyway, and feel that we are overrun by the growling at this point so I welcome the change. The audience was mixed on the bands set with some yelling things at them when breaks happened and others cheering in the hopes to drown out the negative. My view remains like this. If a band is playing and you don’t like it, just shut up and find something more constructive to do with your time. Go downstairs to merchandise or hit the bar and order a drink. I feel you can be quiet and hold your tongue while an opener is on, as they don’t play long anyway and the scene doesn’t need anything less than your undivided support. Now it was time for Augury who I had seen once before.
Augury: I liked what Augury does and feel that their brand of Progressive meets Technical Death Metal is just what the doctor ordered so I will not over examine their set. The band is fronted by Patrick Loisel who appeared to be playing his own guitar upside down. Today that always amuses me since they model guitars for those left-handed players but I digress. “Fragmentary Evidence” is the bands latest Nuclear Blast Records effort and I enjoyed what I heard from it as it comes across very strong live. The crowd was not behind the band at all for some reason and this actually found the singer flipping a few people off at times. Remember that at these shows the band can see you so don’t be too obnoxious lest they catch you in person afterwards. It’s also not polite so let the musicians play and deal with it please. I think the reason for the disconnect between fan and band at this point was that we were three bands into a five band night and the venue was unbearably hot. The fans were initially lined up around the street and it was a hot night already so imagine their displeasure to find the venue to be even hotter inside. That’s not healthy for ones body and temperament but it was beyond our control as fans. Augury finished quickly as well and it was apparent that everyone was on fast-forward tonight. Death Angel was next.
Death Angel: The last time that I caught Death Angel was when they toured with God Forbid on a co-headlining run that while brief, did manage to deliver a lot of Metal justice. At the time, Death Angel was returning to form after too long an absence and were supporting their album “The Killing Season”. It was an aggressive listen and an even wilder show so tonight I was as eager to see their set as I was that of Soilwork. They would open with “Lord Of Hate” from “Killing Season” and it was intense to say the least. The bands front man Mark Osegueda really loves to be onstage and was showing to any new fans just what a captivating entertainer he was. Of course those fans who might have seen that show I referenced would also realize how the band was now performing with two different members as bassist Dennis Pepa had left and so did drummer Andy Galeon. Their onstage replacements would be Damien Sisson and Will Carroll on bass and drums respectively. Despite the changes the band thundered thought a killer set that touched upon a number of their albums. They did a couple from the “KS” release as well as visiting their classic “Act III” which was an album that found me paying attention to the band way back in the day so that was nice to find them doing. The bands upcoming album is called “Relentless Retribution” and it was briefly brought up by Mark and just in time for the band to deliver one of its thrashing new tracks with their closing number “River Of Rapture”. I found it interesting that they chose to be as widespread across their catalog as they chose to be but perhaps this was a good idea since it was bound to send people out looking for the bands back releases without question. Now, without any further adieu, it was time for some Soilwork.
Soilwork: I mentioned how it has been just over a year or maybe a little longer since I had last caught Soilwork with their Highline Ballroom show and since that time the band has recorded and released “The Panic Broadcast” as their latest album. There was a lot of excitement surrounding this one as it featured the return of guitarist Peter Wichers to the bands recording process as well as the lineup and he and singer “Speed” are just a perfect combination when it comes to this bands music. They would start off the night by delivering two tunes from the new album as opposed to something that people were more familiar with but to the latest albums defense it was very strong and was coming off great live. They would go way back to 2003’s “Figure Number Five” to bring us “Overload” and then a little farther back to “Natural Born Chaos” to present both “As We Speak” and “The Flameout”. Considering we were only at song number five it was pretty easy to guess how Soilwork was also choosing to give us a comprehensive set list this evening as we had found Death Angel doing only a short time ago. I liked this since I was one of those latter day fans to the bands material and really only came on board with 2005’s “Stabbing The Drama”. I know I am not alone in this and what a hell of a way to start one’s journey since that was such a killer album.
The band was clearly enjoying themselves and guitarist Wichers didn’t miss a note but who actually expected him to. He is an impressive player and while I have always enjoyed his playing, I was paying particular attention to drummer Dirk Verbueren who was throttling the drum kit this evening. He is a speedy and very technical player who I think more people should be watching because he is just that good. I dare you to not play some air drums when you are listening to his percussive output. The second guitar delivered by Sylvain Coudrait was commendable and it appears that the musician is no longer feeling like the “new guy” and coming into his own for the good of Soilwork music. From beginning to end the show was flawless and energetic. When Speed directed the crowd to react, they did react. When he posed a question, the response was louder than hell. Its great when a band has a front man that is as good as someone like Speed because it adds to the shows promise of a good time. Soon enough the guys would get to something from “Sworn To A Great Divide” which you might not realize has been the bands biggest commercial success and then it was off to the rousing closers from “Stabbing The Drama” which included that albums title track and probably my very favorite song from the band. I guess this feeling comes from having it be my first real absorption of their work. Thanks Soilwork for another incredible show for your fans and for the Metal scene in general. No one in the sold out venue tonight left disappointed.
Any criticisms tonight had to fall upon the venue since it was nothing less than an inferno inside the place. Yes there was a large crowd and during the summer months that will cause the heat to be compounded, but wow was I dying in there tonight and no matter where you wandered (if you could), you were going to be facing incredible heat. I don’t know if the air conditioning system was on the blink or if there was just too many bodies inside the venue to handle them. Either way, its not a healthy thing to have fans on the verge of passing out. I will remain hopeful that this gets more under control as more shows are happening at this space over the coming months and I prefer to enjoy my Metal without it being a risk to my health.
Death Angel Set List:
1. Lord Of Hate
2. Evil Priest
3. Buried Alive
4. 3rd Floor
5. Seemingly Endless Time
6. Tuv – Kill As One
7. Thrown to The Wolves
8. River Of Rapture
Soilwork Set List:
1. Late for the Kill, Early for the Slaughter
2. Night Comes Clean
4. As We Speak
5. The Flameout
6. Deliverance Is Mine
8. 20 More Miles
9. The Crestfallen
10. Two Lives Worth of Reckoning
11. Let This River Flow
12. The Chainheart Machine
13. Follow The Hollow
14. Stabbing The Drama – encore
Here is a quick view of the venue marquee for good measure. I don’t recall ever seeing Soilwork here before so this might have very well been their first time. If I missed a show I apologize for the oversight.
I didn’t capture a lot of behind the scenes moments this evening based on all the fast paced changeovers between sets and so many bands to absorb in words and images. As it stands I wasn’t able to get any decent photos of Augury. Here is the promotional poster for the event that I believe the VIP ticket holders were able to get signed before the gig.
Official Website: http://www.soilwork.org
Official Website: http://www.deathangel.us
Official Website: http://www.augurymetal.com
Official Website: http://www.mutinywithin.com
Official Website: http://www.myspace.com/swashbuckle