Devildriver / Napalm Death @ BB Kings

DevildriverNEW YORK, NY—No matter how many times I see a show in NYC, I still can’t get over how good a turnout metal gets. Walking down to Times Square you see the typical tourists and the millions of people that are there for something other than metal so it’s great to walk into a packed room.

I was a little late getting in and caught the last couple of songs from Invitro. They sounded out of place when I considered who was playing after them. The L.A. band had a punk vibe that some in attendance didn’t care for. Vocalist Jeff Weber fused metal and punk by changing tones and made himself sound like two completely different singers. His change of pace in every song wasn’t bad, just felt out of place. They did have some people going up to the front. I’d say half of the floor was getting into it, which isn’t bad for an opening act.

Without a second to lose, from the moment Invitro got off the floor it just seemed a lot more jam-packed than before. The sea of black was getting into position, a little impatient too. I was getting more and more curious as to what I was about to see. Coming in I knew of Napalm Death, but the songs I’ve heard seemed so frantic I didn’t know what to expect. When the English grindcore/death metal band hit the stage I got to see firsthand what fans came for. Their songs were all fast paced and the vocals delivered by Mark Greenway were brutally dark. Good luck trying to make sense of anything he was saying though. I think I caught a word of what he said maybe once or twice, yet the fans were loving it and mumbling along or something.

This year marks the band’s 27th year together. These guys put out 13 albums and whether the songs they performed were from their first album or from their latest album, it all flowed perfectly. Their breakdowns were very solid, with a different sounding transition every time. A lot of their songs did seem to drag, but once the riffs got boring or the blasting bass and snare drums got under the skin, they transitioned. They have to be some sort of influence to other bands, being out that long.

Right as their set was winding down, the last handful of songs were just over a minute each. I don’t know if they were playing samples of their songs to kind of get some favorites out there quick or if that’s just how long the songs were. Regardless, it was different to hear songs coming out rapid fire. Not a second after their final song did fans want them to do more. The chants were probably one of the loudest I’ve heard from fans wanting an encore for an opening band.

Right after Napalm Death, a lot of floor cleared out. It looked grim for a while. It wasn’t until the lights were off and the band was well into their first song that fans just started to appear from out of nowhere. Their second song of the night was off of their self-titled album, “I Dream I Died,” a personal favorite rarely ever played. Its quick lyrics make it sound like a metal rap song with breakdowns, which made everyone in the pit happy.

The last two or three times Devildriver stopped in the NYC area their sets haven’t been as long as fans would have liked. When I’d seen the band previously, they opened up with “End Of The Line,” but this time out they changed things up and opened with “Not All Who Wander Are Lost.” We also were treated to songs that don’t normally get played. “Horn Of Betrayal,” off their last album, tends to never make the set list but it made it this time out. For the real fans of the band, it was special to hear songs from all of their albums. “Nothing’s Wrong” and “I Could Care Less” were added to the list of songs from their first album. “Guilty As Sin” and “Sin And Sacrifice” were also some of those rare songs off The Fury Of Our Maker’s Hand.

Their latest album was their most successful CD, and you could tell. They played more than half of the songs on The Last Kind Words, including “Burning Sermon” and “Head On To Heartache (Let Them Rot).” From the railing, a lot of us were able to see the set list and noticed “Head On To Heartache” was crossed off. The band had originally gotten off and played “End Of The Line.” The chants for more brought the band back for a second time and only then were all the songs set to be played complete.