March 29, 2016 Megadeth Tear Through NYC 3-16-16 w/ Suicidal Tendencies, Children of Bodom, & Havok
They say that great things come in threes, but Heavy Metal fans know that four is the magic number. A staple in the Metal scene for three plus decades, Los Angeles, California’s Megadeth is considered one of the founding four bands that grandfathered the Thrash Metal subgenre alongside Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer. A band that was formed shortly after Lead Guitarist David Mustaine was dismissed from Metallica, Megadeth was Mustaine’s chance to spread his wings and create music in his own vision. The result has been years of aggressive touring and the release of an impressive fifteen studio albums, including the most recent, Dystopia. A record which was reportedly already in the works months following the release of 2013’s Super Collider, Dystopia has received overwhelming positive reviews and is being dubbed Megadeth’s most aggressive effort in years.
In support of the celebrated release, Megadeth teamed up with what Mustaine himself called, “a cool, cool lineup” in the form of support from Havok, Children of Bodom, and Suicidal Tendencies. Probably one of the most fierce mix of generational Metal bands to grace stages in early 2016, the tour found itself in New York City for two nights, March 16th and 17th, to take over Terminal 5. Both shows sold out, the first night of Wednesday, March 16th, would be filled with surprises.
It is true to the “sex, drugs, and Rock -n-Roll” Metal mindset, Megadeth has seen mounting controversy alongside their success. From substance abuse, to outspoken disdain from Mustaine’s Metallica days, to alarming lyrics and album themes, Megadeth’s critics scream as loudly as their music. Being successful and controversial is a familiar correlation to Rock-n-Roll, but it is that Megadeth have been so controversial and so successful. It is rare that a band can wage war on so many fronts of the industry but still sell over fifty million albums. This leads to a lot of questions. For a select few bands, their main question is how the hell does one open for Megadeth?
Denver Colorado based band Havok answered just that. Formed back in 2004, Havok is part of the new generation of Thrash Metal bands who take an old school approach, but still create killer tunes in their own light. With three studio albums under their belt, including 2013’s successful Unnatural Selection, Havok have toured with the likes of Soulfly, Battlecross, and many more. Now the team of Vocalist/Guitarist David Sanchez, Drummer Pete Webber, Lead Guitarist Reece Scruggs, and newly joined Bassist Nick Schendzielos (of Cephalic Carnage) are ready to return with a new album in 2016, but first they have some business to take care of opening for Megadeth.
Opening for a band that has swung this double-edged sword of Rock-n-Roll is not an enviable position, but Havok combated the typical crowd apathy by doing what they do best – and loudly. Rather than trying to match Megadeth’s mega-reputation, they showed who they are in full force, confident that their Thrash foundation would appeal to fans. The after work crowd trickled in slowly, but was quickly drawn in by the punishing percussion and aggressive guitar lines. Putting on a strong performance, particularly with opener “Point of No Return” and later “From Cradle to Grave,” they showed that they have not missed a beat through the years. They played a total of six songs in their time slot and made the most of it as they wrapped up on a high note with “Give Me Liberty…or Give Me Death.” With hopefully most of their tribulations behind them, Havok have plenty of years of consistency and more great music ahead of them.
Children of Bodom followed Havok’s in-your-face set with an equally as impressive, but more colorful sound. As the crowd began to swell, so too did their set. Fans on the floor and in Terminal 5’s three story horseshoe balcony were headbanging from many vantage points both visually and musically. Hailing from Finland, Children of Bodom have established their own identity while always managing to give modern twists to each studio effort and live show for the past twenty years. Beginning with the jolting debut of Something Wild back in 1997, Children of Bodom showed Neoclassical guitar work, symphonic keyboards, and Death Metal can all be meshed into one for a heart-pumping brand of music. They continued the fire they started with what their fans consider their best album ever, 1999’s Hatebreeder, and then 2000’s Follow The Reaper. Adored by the underground, it was just a matter of time before the highly talented band would break through into a more mainstream world, and that came to fruition in the years to follow with 2003’s Hate Crew Deathroll, 2005’s Are You Dead Yet?, and 2008’s Blooddrunk. Now celebrating their ninth overall studio album, 2015’s I Worship Chaos, Children of Bodom return to North America to ignite more chaos with their eargasmic sound.
Marking all of their work with triumphant, anthemic builds, this particular set filled out huge sound with bright, sometimes eerie electronic elements while maintaining an organic, Metal feel. Flirting with these extremes is in their DNA, earning them the position of a Death Metal stronghold internationally. With the aforementioned nine studio releases, one of which have received Platinum and six Gold certifications in Finland, they have mastered the art of staking down their musical roots, but still growing tall; exploring musical directions. They incorporate elements relevant to today’s scene, but maintain total control on what sound defines them, a tricky task for any band. With all that in mind, the lineup of Vocalist/Lead Guitarist Alexi Laiho, along with his crew of Drummer Jaska Raatikainen, Bassist Henkka Seppälä, Keyboardist Janne Wirman, and newest member, Guitarist Daniel Freyberg, they kicked things into high gear with 2005’s “Are You Dead Yet?” and “In Your Face.” Moving along with power-packed arrangements, compelling guitar lines, and roaring vocals that demand attention, they played newer track “Morrigan” before fan-favorite “Silent Night, Bodom Night.”
Then, with mounts of excitement, Laiho blasted into another anti-anthem with the shout along cut “Hate Me!” Keeping that energy flowing, the title track off of I Am Worship could have been considered, by far, the most impressive of the set, and arguably of the night, as it opened up a mosh pit. Having to choose eight songs from a length discography, Children of Bodom managed to blend new material with older classics as they wrapped up the set with “Angels Don’t Kill” and “Downfall.” While many American Metal acts have great success overseas, it is clear that American fans embrace this Finnish fivesome. On a pretty consistent biannual release schedule, fans can look forward to Children of Bodom’s ability to stay themselves and stay relevant in the future.
Finding one’s self sandwiched between Children of Bodom and Megadeth is no easy task. It gets even more challenging when one is the musical “outlier” of the lineup and sick to boot, but legendary Hardcore Punk band Suicidal Tendencies were up for the challenge. Starting out in Venice, California back 1981, they gained fans and respect as one of the first Hardcore bands to have a music video played on MTV for their single “Institutionalized” off of their 1983 debut, self-titled album. Enduring many member changes, three different hiatuses, and struggling to release music independently or with a label, they have managed to never back down or changed their message, thanks in large part to frontman Mike Muir. Considered a rare Thrash-Punk crossover band by many, it is the inability to define them that has kept the engine going since the ’80s, thus making Suicidal Tendencies so unique. The familiarity of Punk-core lays in their underbelly, but their eclectic inclusion of Jazz chops and haunting hooks have set them apart as a different kind of force in the Punk scene.
With that in mind, their contagious energy and no quit attitude had even Metal’s most loyal fans punked out as they began with “You Can’t Bring Me Down” and charged into 1983’s “Subliminal.” With the lineup of Lead Guitarist Dean Pleasants, Rhythm Guitarist Nico Santora, Bassist Ra Díaz, having the phenomenal Dave Lombardo behind the drumkit certainly sweetened the deal. Tight and on point, the band had Terminal 5 in a choke hold and Muir silenced skeptics who doubted they could deliver, saying he was, “Sick, but it’s about to get sicker.” How true it was as they played on with songs like “Trip at the Brain,” “War Inside My Head,” and the always enjoyed “I Saw Your Mom.” With the fans completely hooked in, the set closed with another throwback in “Pledge Your Allegiance,” which was also a delight for fan as Lombardo definitely made his presence known.
Having released new music again for the first time in thirteen years, 2013’s 13 has helped them sustain their usual aggressive touring route. As raw, angry, and energetic as ever, Suicidal Tendencies proved why they are still a top Metal band to see live. With no plans set in stone for a future album, fans hope that these legends can pull together a future studio effort soon.
When a band has pioneered a subgenre of music, received eleven Grammy nominations, and sold over fifty million albums, what is left to do? Megadeth’s answer was to put on an incredible performance. As usual, they fired on all burners, unleashing energy that was pent up after some delays on their Dystopia release. Between 2014 and the Dystopia release, Megadeth was forced to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv because of Middle Eastern conflict, drop off of a tour with Motörhead because of complications with Mustaine’s cervical spine surgery, and face the departures of Drummer Shawn Drover and Guitarist Chris Broderick. Refusing to give up, Megadeth marched on with fearless leader Mustaine, long-time Bassist David Ellefson, and new members, Guitarist Kiko Loureiro (Angra) and Drummer Chris Adler (Lamb of God) to bring fans Dystopia.
Finally, without further ado, any remnants of instability were checked offstage as Megadeth opened with a 1-2 punch of the classic “Hangar 18” followed by new song “The Threat is Real.” Having New Yorkers losing their mind, the classics kept coming with “Wake Up Dead,” “In My Darkest Hour,” “Dawn Patrol” and “Poison Was the Cure.” Mustaine proved to be the heart of Megadeth once again, putting on an impressive and emphatic performance on guitar and vocals. He was rounded out by an excellent, above mentioned, lineup as Loureiro shred on rhythm as well as lead guitar, Adler was outstanding on the drums, and Ellefson kept rhythm and crowd engagement alive. With a sea of memorable Megadeth tunes that fans simply love hearing live, the band delivered a fitting set moving forward as new met old with “Post American World,” “She-Wolf,” “Dystopia,” and, later on, “Fatal Illusion,” as well as “Poisonous Shadows.”
The riffs as razor sharp and preceded as ever, Mustaine has always been known for his impeccable technique. He showed that through determination and hard work, no obstacle could stand in his way, because the quality was top-notch. Having already given the hungry fans a shot of adrenaline, more was yet to come with easily recognized songs such as the sing-along “Trust,” whirlwind of “Tornado of Souls,” and still topical in 2016, “Symphony of Destruction.” Matched by a fitting stage setup with flashing lights pulsing with the chugging of the guitars, fans kept their hands in the air most of the set, and no doubt many had whiplash from all the headbanging as the set concluded with “Peace Sells.” With Megadeth departing from the stage, the demand for an encore yielded the band to return. With Mustaine taking the time to speak with the audience, he told the story behind the last song of the night and truthfully stated, “This song is just as true today as it was when I wrote it,” before they went into “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due,” closing out night one of two at Terminal 5 in epic fashion.
Megadeth may not have much to prove, but they certainly are not resting on their laurels. As long as Mustaine has something to say and he is passion to create, Megadeth will sustain itself. Some are saying this current configuration is perhaps their favorite of Megadeth since the late ’80s when Chris Poland was on the team. In enough words, Megadeth show what it means to start a movement – and to keep it alive, no matter what.