Killswitch Engage Crushes Marquee Theatre Tempe, Az 4-9-16 w/ Memphis May Fire, 36 Crazyfists & Toothgrinder

Killswitch Engage Crushes Marquee Theatre Tempe, Az 4-9-16 w/ Memphis May Fire, 36 Crazyfists & Toothgrinder

Perhaps one of the most well-known Metal bands out there is Massachusetts’ own Killswitch Engage. Born from the mold that helped forge the Metalcore movement over fifteen years ago, Killswitch Engage, much like their peers, have separated themselves from labels and have grown into international fame that distinguish themselves with a melodic, yet brutal, and vital sound. Recently releasing their seventh studio album Incarnate on March 11th, shortly after they embarked on a headlined tour that kicked off March 16th. A tour that features a blistering supporting cast of Memphis May Fire, 36 Crazyfists, and Toothgrinder, it comes as no surprise that it is filling venues across the USA, while blazing a scorching path. Standing true to form, the tour packed out the Marquee Theatre venue with Metal fans in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, April 9th. In a tight fitting concert hall, the turnout proved this tour is unquestionably being noted as one of the best Rock/Metal combinations out there right now.

Up first was one of the most intriguing Rock sounds in Metal right now, coming from the band calling themselves Toothgrinder. Hailing from Asbury Park, New Jersey, Wills Weller (drums), Justin Matthews (vocals), Jason Goss (guitar), Matt Arensdorf (bass/vocals), and Johnuel Haskaknee (guitar) slam down a revelation that, with each album, grows tighter. With a pointed shot to the heart and soul of Metalcore, Toothgrinder’s latest album, Nocturnal Masquerade, may just be the primo spot to carry through the top motion of 2016 in their genre. In enough words, it is a force of music nature to be reckoned with and Tempe was just about to find out.

Performing tracks like “The Hour Angle,” “Schizophrenic Jubilee,” and “The House (That Fear Built),” their brand of slam-down Metal Rock laid the whole foundation of music for the evening. Playing others like “Dance of Damsels,” “Lace & Anchor,” and “Coeur d’Alene,” the band created an undefinable, untamed rage that had everyone’s eyes and ears wide open. Led by Matthews’ wide grin and striking scream vocals, he engaged the audience while Weller’s beat was the backbone to each tune. Possessing a Progressive Metal sound, each track was stamped by Goss and Haskaknee’s guitar work, all while Arensdorf thumps the bass and brought counterbalance to the vocal team. Their set was the perfect start to the night as it garnered a superiority that reveled in pulling the crowd up to exponential Metal elation.

Bringing their own unique sound to the stage, 36 Crazyfists began back in 1994 way up north in the harsh lands of frigid-cold Anchorage, Alaska. Soon after their formation, 36 Crazyfists moved to the Portland, Oregon area, where the band became a complete unification and well on their way to success. Now revitalized upon their comeback studio album Time and Trauma in 2015, 36 Crazyfists are showing a whole new generation of Metal fans what they have to offer.

The crowd, set and ready, were all chanting, “36! ” “36! ” in unison even before 36 Crazyfists hit the stage, and not one of  their fans was disappointed when they opened with “Vanish.” Led by Brock Lindow (vocals), Steve Holt (guitar), Mick Whitney (bass), and Kyle Baltus (drum), the band delivered powerfully as they moved on into “I’ll Go Until My Heart Stops” and “At the End of August.”

Giving the room everything they had in them and more, later on “We Gave It Hell” destroyed as all the fists of spectators were up and pounding the air. It seemed Lindow fed off the crowd, and so did the rest of the band, as everyone devoured the older tunes while newer offerings such as “Also Am I” and “Time and Trauma” revved the energy up even higher. Ending all too soon, their time came to a close with “Slit Wrist Theory” as they rattled the room in exceptional fashion. With a long history, 36 Crazyfists will be celebrating their twenty-second anniversary come this December, and there are reports of a new album in the works, so keep a look out.

After a quick fifteen-minute stage change up, and as the audience fist-pumped in unison, calling for Memphis May Fire, the venue darkened and the band out of Dallas, Texas was ready to begin. Founded by Guitarist Kellen McGregor in 2006, originally going by the name “Oh Captain, My Captain,” they soon took shape when Vocalist Matty Mullins and Bassist Cory Elder joined up in 2008. Seen through some more lineup changes, 2016’s lineup has seen a stable cast of McGregor, Mullins, Elder, along with Drummer Jake Garland and Guitarist Anthony Sepe. Rooting themselves strongly within the Metal/Rock genre, Memphis May Fire are still riding high off 2014’s Unconditional with consistent touring and this fantastic opportunity to be main support for the Incarnate Tour.

Ready to go, Memphis May Fire fired up with “Beneath the Skin” and quickly went into 2012’s “Prove Me Right” next. Seeming to fit perfectly with the sound of the tour, Memphis May Fire pulled from their harder tunes as they played on with “Legacy” and had everyone satisfied. Always a solid frontman, Mullins knew how to keep the audience excited and embraced them, inviting fans to sing along and flash the Metal horns in the air. Moving forward with “Stay The Course” and “No Ordinary Love,” Memphis May Fire sent the fans clamoring over the barricade and into a frenzy.

Not to be overlooked, the tight sound the band brought forth was driven by McGregor’s guitar work as he fueled each track. With that pointed out, it must be noted a unification has developed in Memphis May Fire and by the time they concluded with “The Sinner” and “Vices” they had the crowd begging for more. Those who want more, Memphis May Fire will also be out on tour come later in April with We Came As Romans and Miss May I. In addition, they announced back in February they were in fact returning to the studio to record new material, so there is plenty to look forward to in the near future.

Following the three equally potent supporting acts, the audience was ready for the arrival of Killswitch Engage. As stated, supporting their latest album, Incarnate, the highly acclaimed new work seems to be everything Lead Vocalist Jesse Leach has strived to accomplish since his return to the band back in 2012. To many fans, the album is one of their most powerful to date and, as a result, this tour garners even more of a buzz. Featuring songs that clearly took a lot of heart and soul to write, fans were elated for a chance to observe many of them up close and personal in a live performance.

With that thought in place, Killswitch Engage raised the intensity level and came ready to deliver as they opened with Incarnate’s lead single, “Strength of the Mind.” Wasting no time and going for the throat, Killswitch Engage certainly was the crown of shiny Metal heat and glory as they went on into the perfect song from their 2008 album As Daylight Dies, “This Is Absolution,” followed by another older song, “Fixation on the Darkness.” With Guitarists Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel’s relentless and driven riffs as well as breakdowns, as a combined force, they were mind-blowing.

Having the floor moving, whether it be moshing, headbanging, or just singing along, all the cell phones were out and recording as they went into new favorite, “Alone I Stand.” Sprinkling in other undeniable songs such as “Just Barely Breathing,” “Take The Oath,” and “Temple From the Within,” Killswitch Engage weaved in and out of their long list of songs with ease while hitting all the right cords in the hearts of listeners. Then taking it to the melodic Metal side, they went into “Just Let Go” before picking the speed right back up with “Rose of Sharyn” as the audience sang along, “…What would I give to behold. The smile, the face of love? You never left me. The rising sun will always speak your name…” A chilling moment, the power of breakdowns in this song and throughout the set split the sanctity of the night.

Not neglecting 2014’s Disarm the Descent, one of the select cuts offered from the Leach comeback album included “The New Awakening.” A blistering array of Metal, the song kept the fierce riffs coming while Justin Foley’s drumming and Mike D’Antonio’s bass complemented the thick sound. Going into the beautiful “My Last Serenade,” it was a moment that showed the undeniable diversity of the band’s sound as a whole. Closing out with “The End of Heartache,” “My Curse,” and “In Due Time,” it was was evident Killswitch Engage left no stone unturned when hashing together this set list.

To say this is one of the best Metal tours thus far in 2016 would be an understatement. Beyond that, the bands worked well as a complete billing and that added to the astounding performances. With each band bringing experience and passion, Killswitch Engage’s Incarnate Tour was one heck of a superlative show that is a must see before it concludes April 24th.


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Song River
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Song River has over thirty years combined experience in photography and writing, from music to politics and everything in between. She is the owner of CowGirlZen Entertainment, a registered business that focuses on photography for both musicians and families, and also offers PR/social marketing/bios/press. Currently a photojournalist for several music magazines and a publicist/A&R for High Road Publicity. In her downtime, you might find her helping the homeless, volunteering to aid the elderly, hiking in the desert mountains, taking care of her family, cooking new dishes, gardening, beach combing, amateur astronomy, and traveling with her Nikon by her side at all times.

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