Being a huge fan of the 90’s Swedish Thrash Metal revival spearheaded by bands like At The Gates, In Flames and The Haunted and continued in the aughts by America’s Skeletonwitch and The Black Dahlia Murder, I’ve become a loyal disciple of Detroit, Michigan’s Battlecross, one of the most consistent and dependable heavy acts on the scene today. After hearing from friends for years what an incredible live act BC was I was lucky enough to catch them for myself last December at Underground Arts. Needless to say I came away highly impressed, and jumped at the chance to see the band again, this time at Voltage Lounge with Portland Doom Metallers Lord Dying and New Orleans Sludge pioneers Crowbar.
Just as they had at Underground Arts, Philly natives Ten Ton Hammer opened the show and sounded even heavier this time, with a small but dedicated contingent of windmill kicking creepy crawlers in the crowd loving every minute of it. The locals’ no nonsense brand of hardcore continues to be a breath of fresh air and I’ll look forward to catching them again. Lord Dying was up next with an earth rattling metal attack that sort of split the difference between the thrash of Battlecross and the sludge of Crowbar, slow, doom-y breakdowns trading off on rollicking faster passages. The Oregon foursome got a great reaction from the crowd as well, especially drummer Rob Shaffer repeatedly hopping on top of his kit and tapping on the stage lights.
Next up was Battlecross and the Michigan quintet was in rare form, opening with “Pursuit of Honor” lead track “Push Pull Destroy”, with guitarist Hiran Deraniyagala impressively noodling the intro to let the initiated know what was coming. BC got a huge response from the Philly crowd, singer Kyle Gunther even commenting they love coming back here because “Philly always treats the band right”. The band played two new songs from its upcoming record “Rise to Power”, the driving stomper “Not Your Slave” and another called “Absence” that was as fast and heavy as anything the band has ever written, a true thrash ripper similar to The Haunted’s classic “Revelation”. Recent addition Alex Bent is a true demon behind the kit, and I absolutely cannot wait to hear the new record. The boys’ too-short seeming set closed with “War of Will” powerhouse “Flesh and Bone”
Finally it was time for Louisiana Doom Legends Crowbar to assault the stage with a long and wide ranging set of tracks from their nearly 30 year career. Many in the crowd sported Crowbar t-shirts that said “None Heavier” and this was no hyperbole, CB is crushingly heavy, amongst the loudest bands I’ve ever heard. Singer Kirk Windstein introduced the band by saying “We’re Crowbar from New Orleans and we’re here to kick your ass” and he clearly meant it. Everything from early classics like “All I Had (I Gave)” to newer material from 2014’s “Symmetry in Black” were devoured by the rapturous audience. “Existence Is Punishment” from their highly influential self titled 1993 record closed out the night, and with a devil horn salute and thumbs up to the crowd from Windstein the job was done, even though the ravenous attendees were clearly hungry for more.
This was my first experience at Voltage Lounge and I was impressed, a clean, safe little venue for a show like this with a friendly staff and a decent beer list, I’m kinda sad I missed out on Ghoul when they played there last month and I’d be happy to return. As for the heroes of the night, Crowbar will be touring Europe later this summer so if you’re somehow reading this from there, don’t miss them if they come through your town. Battlecross will be part of the annual Knotfest, Slipknot’s answer to the dear departed Ozzfest, in San Bernardino, California from October 23rd through 25th, and their new record “Rise to Power” releases August 21st on Metal Blade Records.
– Kevin Hawkey (words), Megan Hawkey (photos)