GET WITH THE FOOKIN TIMES MATE
A few nights ago, I got the chance to catch the combo-tour stylings of Overkill/Nile and Amorphis/Swallow the Sun. I went in only really liking Amorphis very much a few months ago, but in the intervening time, I’d grown to be quite fond of Overkill’s hyper oldschool thrash stylings.
While I was kinda sad (see, because the tours merged for six dates this month, Overkill stayed as main headliner, relegating Amorphis to “2nd opener” status), and extremely sick, my very enthusiastic friend Briony got me out there all the same, and I managed to stay on my feet all the way through the end (well, okay, I did skip out during the encore, but I’d heard all the Overkill songs I knew and liked, including “Trouble” “Armory” and “Mean Green Killing Machine” by then and was seriously about to vomit everywhere).
Finland’s Swallow the Sun were surprisingly amazing live. With the bass cranked up to 11, their ultra-heavy, pounding style of gothy, doomy death was perfect, even if their stage presence was a little. . . spartan. Great, albeit somewhat muted, vocals, pounding bass, guitar, and drums, with a melodic strain crooning at the back of your head throughout. It touches some of the same space that Woods of Ypres does for me, which is high praise indeed. And, of course, the whole place felt like it was shaking a few times. . . but that could have been the illness.
Finland’s Amorphis were my whole reason for going in the first place (and Briony’s, to be fair; she LOVES those guys). Although they lost my favorite vocalist, Pasi, like 15 years ago now, “new guy” Tomi is pretty fucking solid, albeit with a very different style. They were clearly seasoned, commanding the stage expertly despite being the second band up, and Tomi was wielding the sickest fucking mic, some huge, metal contraption that he held onto with three huge wooden handles protruding from the back. At some point, he lost his jacket, at which point we knew “shit was on.” They barely got more than half an hour, which killed my soul, though, but managed to squeeze in some really deep cuts from Thousand Lakes and Elegy in the process, so I can’t complain too much (even though there was nothing from my favorite album, the almost acoustic rock Am Universum).
South Carolina’s Nile were up next, and I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a huge Nile fan. Their style of death metal’s just a little brutal and unfocused for me, as much as I love the ancient Egyptian mythological themes that run through their whole catalogue. And knowing that longtime guitarist and vocalist Dollas Toler-Wade abruptly walked out a day before the tour started wasn’t super encouraging, either. Buuuuut. … here we are, nonetheless! The remaining guys and newcomer Brian Kingsland managed to put on an extremely fun “hometown” show (Charlotte, NC’s damn near in SC as it is) with a ton of local bands in attendance–including black metal wonders Rapheumet’s Well I praised a few months ago. They clearly had a blast up there and were eating up the crowd’s enthusiasm, so while I still won’t claim to love Nile, I’m really glad I got to see them in Charlotte.
Finally, New Jersey’s own Overkill, 35-year, 18-album veterans of the thrash metal scene, took the stage in a sickly gleam of green light and immediately threw down any notion that they might finally be getting old. Ol’ DD and Blitz were still rocking the fuck out, and it was obvious the entire band was completely locked in, moving from 3-decade-old classics to brand new material with aplomb and working the crowd expertly. For instance, here’s Blitz, introducing the “new” drummer (longtime member Lipnicki hasn’t made the last couple of tours), "“We got somebody brand new on drums back here. From the great state of Texas: El Paso! The Irish Eddie Garcia, El Diablo! The Metricutioner! We’re teaching him to be a soprano…” They absolutely brought down the house and brought out the oldschool thrash grognards; there were greybeards there than at a Linux conference!
Great night. Mind, driving back, with Bri having had 3 hours of sleep in the last 36, me still in the midst of a hellish stomach flu, and neither of us able to resist the siren song of Sheetz late-night dinner, was a fraught proposition even BEFORE we came across the hour-long dead-stop on the highway 40mi outside of Charlotte. . .
Totally worth it, though :-D