Kreator/Best Buy Theater/October 24, 2014
Kreator originally formed as Tyrant in 1982 in Essen, Germany. A name change to Tormentor in 1984 yielded two demo recordings, but as there were other bands using that name, the band became Kreator in 1985. Opening for Arch Enemy at the Best Buy Theater, Kreator’s set consisted mostly of songs from its two brightest periods, the thrash metal decades of the 1980s and the 2000s, along with three songs from the 2012 album. The set included the title tracks of the Endless Pain, Pleasure To Kill and Extreme Aggression albums early in the band’s career, as well as songs from the later Violent Revolution, Enemy Of God and Phantom Antichrist albums. The slicker 1990s MTV songs “Toxic Trace,” “Betrayer,” “When The Sun Burns Red” and “People Of The Lie” were not heard. Kreator delivered a nonstop brutal concert with fast and furious heavy music. The problem was that although the band performed well and generated moshing and crowd surfing, much of what Kreator is by definition is cliché. The thrash was genuine and strong, but the violent and anti-Christian song titles and lyrics seemed to stagnate the band in its past. Perhaps due to its reversal of direction after the lack of success of its mid-period experimentation, the 32-year-old band seemed to be a prisoner of its own macabre identity. Meanwhile, the recurring fog, the blinding strobe lights into the audience and the dim red and blue lights backlit onto the musicians made it difficult to see more than silhouettes on stage, possibly decreasing audience connection.
Arch Enemy/Best Buy Theater/October 24, 2014
Raised in Halmstad, Sweden, Michael Amott began playing guitar as a young teenager, copying hardcore punk, thrash/speed metal and classic metal from his record collection. He helped form the death metal band Carnage in 1988 and played in Carcass from 1990 to 1993, leaving to form a classic rock-influenced band, Spiritual Beggars. Still heavily into extreme metal, Amott formed a melodic death metal supergroup, Arch Enemy, as a side project in 1996. At the Best Buy Theater tonight, Arch Enemy introduced its new lead singer with a catalogue of mostly older songs. In near total darkness, a recorded symphonic instrumental from the newest album, “Tempore Nihil Sanat (Prelude in F minor),” a Latin phrase which translates as “Time Heals Nothing,” played through the sound system. Strobe lights flickered from the stage floor, and the band ripped into 2001’s “Enemy Within.” The new petite singer, Alissa White-Gluz, stood on a raised platform, crouched into her microphone, growled a few lyrics and spun her long blue hair. Although White-Gluz has been in Arch Enemy for less than six months, she took a commanding stand. While her roaring growl recalled death metal, the band often fluctuated between classic metal and thrash metal sounds, making for an engaging mix of brutal crush and melodic flow. The songs were often grounded in fist-pumping rhythms, but also infused an impressive range of technicality, sometimes approaching symphonic measures. The set was perhaps too rough for traditional metal fans, but provided them with a crossable bridge to more extreme metal.
Temples/Irving Plaza/October 27, 2014
Psychedelic rock band Temples began as a home recording experiment in 2012 by singer-guitarist James Edward Bagshaw with his friend, bassist Tom Warmsley, both from Kettering, England. The duo previously worked together in The Moons. The duo uploaded four self-produced tracks to YouTube to encouraging response. Forced to form a band around their tracks, Bagshaw and Walmsley enlisted Kettering drummer Samuel Lloyd Toms and keyboard player Adam Smith and started rehearsing as a band. Returning to New York for a headlining show at Irving Plaza, Temples looked like a 1960s West Coast psychedelic band, and the music fit the image. The quartet performed nine songs from its sole album plus two older songs, all referencing the dreamy, droning grooves and extended guitar leads of early stoner rock. Temples is only two years old, but the retro-futuristic musicians mastered a mix of old and new sounds. The vocals were light, the hard, bouncy rhythms alternated between gritty, glam, and folky, and the prominent guitar and keyboard-fueled sound was all imaginative. Backed by a primitive light show on a screen behind them, the concert was a romp through time and mind space.
Jasta/Irving Plaza/October 28, 2014
Heavy metal vocalist Jamey Jasta (born James Shanahan) is the lead vocalist of the metalcore band Hatebreed, the sludge metal band Kingdom Of Sorrow, and the hardcore punk band Icepick. He released a solo album entitled Jasta in 2011. He also owns Stillborn Records, a hardcore and metal-based record label in his native West Haven, Connecticut, and a rock-themed apparel line called Hatewear. Jasta was the host for MTV’s Headbangers Ball from 2003-2007, and this summer launched his newest venture, interviewing metal and punk icons on a weekly podcast called The Jasta Show. Jasta recruited a pickup band and appeared as the opening act for the Misfits at Irving Plaza. The bottom line—the four-piece band played crunching metal well, but Jasta sang poorly. He sounded better when he growled. Nevertheless, as a frontman, he entertained and rallied the crowd with his spunky attitude, while the band ripped into heavy rock riffs. The industrial and rapcore-influenced “Mourn The Illusion” from his solo album was possibly the most interesting song of the set.
The Misfits/Irving Plaza/October 28, 2014
Glenn Danzig formed the Misfits in 1977 in Lodi, New Jersey. Early on, he recruited 18-year-old bassist Gerard Caiafa, Jr., who had just received his first bass as a Christmas present. Caiafa changed his name to Jerry Only, and as the band developed its horror punk identity with ghostly face makeup and Only established his “devilock” hairdo, the other members of the lineup changed frequently. Only won the Misfits name from Danzig in a court battle and maintained the brand through numerous personnel changes from 1995 until another breakup in 2000. Only formed a new band and became the lead vocalist in 2001.
The spirit of the original Misfits was kept alive at Irving Plaza. Although this was not the lineup that mined the horror-punk niche, the performance was more about sustaining an iconic legacy than about breaking new ground. The music was a tempest, thunderous and lightning fast, with catchy melodies that softened the blow. The songs were short, and often featured no lead guitar or change in chord patterns. Particularly effective this close to Halloween, Only sang from a microphone stand adorned with a human skeleton, and the musicians’ macabre makeup helped fuel a larger-than-life punk rock party. The night was all for fun and not to be studied seriously. Afterwards, the musicians stayed in the photo pit for quite a while, meeting the fans, posing for photographs and autographing admission tickets.