When the new wave of thrash metal exploded in the early 2000s, HAVOK and WARBRINGER were very much at the movement’s epicentre. Spear-heading the American sector of the revival, both bands have build solid reputations and demonstrating that thrash metal still has something to scream about. 2017 has seen both bands release new studio efforts to critical acclaim, from press and fans alike, and now the bands have teamed up to conquer Europe. But does the building momentum pay off in the live environment?
Opening proceedings was EXMORTUS, a band that is very much apart of the resurging thrash metal movement but displays enough technicality to appeal to a much broader audience. And the band showcased this in buckets through a professionally tight and intoxicating performance. Through a whirlwind of dual guitar riffs and technically impressive solos from guitarists Conan and David Rivera, the intensity of the band’s set was utterly jaw-dropping. This was particularly showcased through the highly impressive execution of Moonlight Sonata (Act 3) where Conan and Rivera stole the show through sparring guitar play whilst Mario Mortus‘ drumming and Phillip Nunez‘s bass lines kept the rhythm flowing nicely. Equally, Conan‘s guttural and low vocal deliveries added a rough undertone to the band’s rather crisp audio output like on Speed of the Strike for example. They may not be the biggest name in modern thrash but EXMOTRUS provided an absolute white-knuckle opening performance, one that set the quality for the evening’s action incredibly high.
With the bar raised so high so early on, GOROD had an even tougher task of equalling the intensity of what came before. The French outfit’s blend of technical and progressive output certainly helped the band stand out and at times the band delivered a consistent performance. Mathieu Pascal and Nicolas Alberny combined rather well to display solid riffs and intricate solos, Karol Diers‘ blistering drumwork kept momentum flowing rapidly whilst Julien Deyres‘ sole vocal deliveries held up well enough against the dizzying display of technically impressive death metal. This, at times, shone throughout GOROD‘s set, with Carved in the Wind and Here Die Your Gods being particular highlights. For all their technical prowess and impressive musicianship, it felt like the band could have given slightly more. Impressive as their experimentation and technical strengths are, GOROD‘s performance was good enough to showcase their abilities but lacked that killer blow to truly leave a lasting impression.
2017 has seen WARBRINGER come back from the wilderness with a statement of intent of annihilating everything in their path. With the band’s releasing their excellent new record, Woe To The Vanquished, just days before the show, momentum is one thing the band has in their favour and despite initial technical issues delaying the band’s opening, WARBRINGER provided a performance of thrashing mayhem. With the new album still fresh in people’s mind, the band’s first half of their set was dedicated purely to new material and the result was emphatic to say the least. Silhouettes showcased blistering guitar play from Adam Carroll and Chase Becker, Woe To The Vanquished crushing closure had heads banging aplenty and Remain Violent‘s tight grooves and dominant vocal display from John Kevill more than showcased how strong the band’s new material is.
Showcasing their intensity and prowess through their new material, as the band shifted their focus towards their back catalogue, WARBRINGER continuously fired on all cylinders. Prey For Death was performed with enough force to replicate a nuclear detonation, Living In A Whirlwind‘s slick lead play in the solo and Kevill‘s venomous vocal lines whipped up a storm and closing track Living Weapon ensured that the band ended their performance on an absolute high. Despite the technical issues at the start impacting the band’s set time, WARBRINGER more than demonstrated that they are revitalised and ready to lead modern thrash into new battlegrounds.
Similar to WARBRINGER, HAVOK have been leading the charge of the new wave of thrash for more than a decade now. Now supporting their fourth studio record, the recently released Conformicide, the band aimed to whip up a storm and consistently throughout their set HAVOK achieved this. Led by Pete Webber‘s drumming and Nick Schendzielos‘ meaty bass lines the pummelling attack of D.O.A. kept heads banging, the intoxicating rhythm of David Sanchez and Reece Scruggs‘ guitar work on Covering Fire had enough speed to replicate a hurricane and Fatal Intervention‘ chorus was utterly satisfying.
With a sizeable chunk of HAVOK‘s set made up of material from their latest album, the impact of the new material more than matched the band’s back catalogue of heavy hitters. Hang ‘Em High demonstrated David Sanchez excelling with his lead vocals, Intention To Deceive held it’s own against fan favourite From The Cradle To The Grave and the progressive and experimental Ingsoc showcased a new flavour to HAVOK‘s overall sound. From start to finish, HAVOK demonstrated an absolutely professional and tight performance, more than proving that thrash metal is still alive and kicking and most importantly, still an utter joy to experience in the live environment.
Check out our photo gallery from the night’s action in Manchester from Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography here: