October 29, 2014 Overkill leads onslaught at Rock and Shock 2014 Worcester, MA 10-17-14 w/ Rocking Dead, Battlecross & Arsis
Massachusetts may not seem like a hotbed of Thrash and Hardcore Metal, but during the weekend of October 17th-19th, 2014, one could have been fooled. The Palladium on Main Street in Worcester, MA was spilling over with fans ready for their ears to bleed. Metal shows are always dark, and not just the lighting. Waiting for the music to begin, the crowd waxed and waned in a tide of black t-shirts, hooded eyes and intense energy. Muted lights and several small landings made the Palladium an optimum place for fans, giving the general admission crowd the opportunity for a private, personal experience up above, while at the same time, allowing them plenty of room on the floor to get up close and personal with their favorite band. On the first night of Rock and Shock, the Palladium was thrumming with reserved energy.
Disguise the Curse
Hailing from Springfield, MA, this Heavy Metal band kicked off the party Friday night with a loaded set of steamy, gouging Rock. Vocalist Michael Merrill held court, daring the crowd to defy his intense sound, while at the same time pleading with them to tear him apart. Guitarist Joshua Bednarski tore through some brutal riffs while drummer Jamie Cross thrashed the kit with a burning, unending energy. Tying everything together was the impassioned Brian Haggins on bass. The set included songs “Sun of Oblivion,” EP “Lord of the Deep,” “One With A Loaded Gun,” “Porcelain” and “Ghost.” All played songs with the exception of “Porcelain” are available to stream on Soundcloud. Check them out! Listeners will not regret it.
Brick by Brick
Like a punch in the gut, blue collar Hardcore Metal band Brick by Brick took the stage next. Vocalist Ray Mazzola worked the crowd up into a frothing pit, pulling back from time to time to let the three fingered guitarist Mike Valente twist and tear through scorching frets, bassist Sean Green hammer away at the ax, and drummer James Muller gallop across the kit like a man on fire. Songs included “Last Breath,” “Toe to Toe,” “What Comes Around,” “Battleground” and “No Regrets.” The boys will be heading into the studio in December to record their fourth album and will be featured in Hardcore Halloween this October 31, back in their hometown of Albany, NY.
Technical Melodic Death Metal band Arsis were up next. Formed by members James Malone and Mike Van Dyne back in 2000, Arsis prides themselves on expanding the sounds of Black and Thrash Metal. James Malone’s harsh vocals could peel paint, while Brandon Ellis’ riffs travel up and down the scales with the ease of a natural born guitar player. Shawn Priest’s drumming is like a herd of frenzied horses, mouths frothing and eyes rolling in despairing terror. Bassist Noah Martin ties the music together into an all-consuming spiral of ferocity. Among other songs, the band played “Handbook for the Recently Deceased,” a nod to horror fans as an homage to genre favorite, Beetlejuice (1988). Arsis’ newest album, Unwelcome, is available now through Nuclear Blast USA.
Currently touring through Europe for their album War of Will, Battlecross took a quick trip across the pond to play in this year’s Rock and Shock. The Detroit band is known for their current take on an old school sound, bringing back the glory days of Swedish Death Metal and American Thrash mature metalheads grew up on. In your face and unrelenting, vocalist Kyle Gunther pummels the listeners’ ear canals with passionate bursts of electricity. Guitarists Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala blast through any defenses with rapid fire, machine gun riffs, while bassist Don Slater dragged the crowd through the mud and then dosed them with a sub-freezing fire hose of energy. Alex Bent was tireless on drums, impressing with his galloping Punk sets. With most of their songs coming in under the four minute mark, Battlecross is able to throw themselves into each number, keeping the crowd pumped with adrenaline and primed for the next number.
The Rocking Dead
Famed Rock photographer Jeremy Saffer presented a medley of mayhem this year at Rock and Shock with his ensemble The Rocking Dead. The one time only lineup included some heavy hitters from the Mainland of Metal: Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein (The Misfits), Alex Story (CancerSlug), Randy Blythe (Lamb of God), Alan Robert (Life of Agony), Kriz DK (Genitorturers), Virus (Dope), and Ace Von Johnson (Faster Pussycat) were all present and held nothing back. Not only did the band play, but they also had a booth inside the convention, where they signed autographs, answered questions, and posed for pictures with fans. Although Wednesday 13 of the Murderdolls was present for signing, he did not appear on stage with the band. Playing songs from gothic guru Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein’s home band, the set included “Where Eagles Dare,” “Astrozombies,” “Ghoul’s Night Out,” “Last Caress,” and “Violent World.”
Friday night’s headliner was New Jersey’s longest practicing Thrash band, Overkill. Topping off the night with their own unique form of Metal, Overkill rocked the stage for many crazed fans, sending them into a frothing frenzy of slamming pit hysteria. Wrecking necks for a full 30 years, Overkill showed metalheads that they still have what it takes to pitch a tent in their metaphoric pants. Vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth does not need to scream to get his point across, whipping fans up into a seething lather with rock hard vocals and pure passion. Lead guitarist Dave Linsk grinds away on the axe like an unstoppable force. Drummer Ron Lipnicki kept up a lightening fast tempo that pealed across the venue, doubling back to rumble through the crowd with a thunderous energy. Guitarist Derek Tailer let the rhythm rain, while bassist D. D. Verni was the glue that held it all together. Slamming the audience with hits “Hello From the Gutter,” “Elimination,” “Rotten to the Core,” and “In Union We Stand” and turning them on to new standouts like “Electric Rattlesnake” and “Come and Get It,” Overkill stayed true to their roots with a performance the crowd won’t soon forget.
Metalheads were not disappointed with the lineup of music from Friday night’s Rock and Shock Horror and Music Convention. Newer, local rockers rolled into one time only ensembles and culminated with one of the country’s most historic thrash bands, giving fans with even the most discerning palate something to gnaw on.