The second day of music at the twelfth Annual Rock and Shock at the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts on Saturday October 17th was one big party of epic proportions. Not only were bands representing Horror Punk, Thrash, and Hardcore Heavy Metal on hand, but for the second year in a row, members of some of these bands combined to form The Rocking Dead, a super-group organized by Rock photographer Jeremy Saffer for an exclusive, one night performance at Rock and Shock. The floors were packed with people of all ages, from kids young enough to be in elementary school to rockers old enough to retire. Girls in tiny black dresses scooted between sweaty guys in Mohawks of every color. Once again, both the upstairs and downstairs stages of the venue were alive with the burning, electric heat of hardcore Rock and Metal.
The Relapse Symphony
Once again starting things off early, the upstairs stage at the Palladium was set and ready to roll by late afternoon. The first band to play was Washington Rockers The Relapse Symphony, made up of JC Charles (rhythm guitar), Ray Miller (lead guitar), Tommy Vinton (drums), and vocalist Bret Von Dehl, who would later join The Rocking Dead for their set. Formed in 2012, the band has been quite busy in their short time together, releasing their debut EP and two full-length albums in that time. In June 2015, they released their third album, Born to Burn. On stage at the Palladium, Miller’s guitar squalled like a stuck pig as he thrashed across the stage while Von Dehl sang and threw himself into songs “Die Alone” and “Angel Eyes,” unmindful of the recently stitched gash between his eyes. For a Hardcore sound mixed with Prog Punk and a cup of ’80s Glam, look no further than The Relapse Symphony.
Next up were the Heavy Metal rockers Byzantine. These natives of West Virginia have been bringing the combined Prog Thrash sounds of Meshugahh with the mid-tempo Groove Metal moves of Lamb of God to stages everywhere. This modern Metal band consists of Chris “OJ” Ojeda on vocals and guitar, Matt Wolfe on drum, Brian Henderson on guitar, and Sean Sydnor on bass, and have put out five studio releases in their fifteen year history. His long, white beard and shiny dome front and center, OJ grabbed the mic and spewed dirty, grinding lyrics while Wolfe slammed the kit as Henderson and Sydnor stood port and starboard, nodding along as their fingers flicked over the strings. Their set included “Nadir,” “Oblivion Beckons,” “Justinian Code,” “The Agonies,” “Hatfield” and “Jeremiad.” Check out the song “A Curious Lot” for a chest-thumping, wild ride.
Things got even heavier when Thrash Metalheads Hatchet set foot on stage. Originally from San Francisco, the band formed in 2006 and have put out two albums so far, with another one, Fear Beyond Lunacy, due out October 30th of this year. The band took the stage and waited for their cue as new lead guitarist Clayton Cagle – formerly of Apothesary – clapped his hands together impatiently. Once the music started, there was no time to waste as the old school whine of Cagle’s guitar blasted from the speakers and Ben Smith started spanking his drums like a red-headed stepchild.
Channeling Alice Cooper, Julz Ramos grabbed the microphone and proceeded to blow the crowd away to the thrumming strum of Kody “RF” Barba’s bass, singing “Where Time Cannot Exist,” “Living In Extinction,” “Fall From Grace,” “Dawn Of The End,” and “Vanishing Point.” The crowd responded in kind, with a pit opening up almost immediately on the floor. Be sure to grab Fear Beyond Lunacy when it hits stores at the end of this month via The End Records for a CD that would sound right at home at any Headbanger’s Ball.
As the crowd readied for one of the most awaited acts of the night, the stage darkened, the floor crowded, and fans started chanting, “Doyle! Doyle! Doyle!” Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein took his time arriving, of course, letting Vocalist Alex “Wolfman” Story of Cancerslug and Drummer Brandon Pertzborn of Black Flag revel in the glory for a bit before making his appearance. When he did, he came in full Doyle glory – bare chested, gum chewing, and devilock swinging, slamming his guitar like a caveman pounding his chest.
Story screamed into the mic, “Every young thing will learn how to bleed,” as the band ripped into track after track, playing “Abominator,” “Learn To Bleed,” and “Valley Of Shadows.” Once the time on the small stage was over, both Doyle and Story headed downstairs to wait for The Rocking Dead set to start. Since their inception in 2013, their debut album, Abominator, was released in March if 2014, to the excitement of Doyle, Cancerslug, and Misfits fans everywhere. Doyle and his band will continue on the Abominator tour until the beginning of December. Be sure to check local listings for a chance to see this madcap adventure in action.
Eyes Set To Kill
The Rodriguez sisters from Alt Rock band Eyes Set To Kill are a sight to behold onstage. When Vocalist/Guitarist Alexia and Bassist Anissa put their minds to something, they do not rest until it happens. The girls began their band back in 2003 in their hometown of Tempe, Arizona and have sludged through many a member change before finally finding permanent drummer Caleb Clifton in 2006. Alexia’s heavy, raspy vocals and tiny stature cannot help but bring to mind Joan Jett as she tore into songs “Where I Want To Be,” “Liar Liar,” “Break,” and the irresistible “Infected.”
Sister Anissa kept a low profile, strumming her bass and swinging her shaggy, blonde locks. Tour Rhythm Guitarist AJ Bartholomew had no such qualms, standing side by side with Alexia as they bounced frets off of each other. Their smooth musical segues and Alexia’s sexy vocals make Eyes Set To Kill a band still rising to the top where they below.
Last on the upstairs stage for Saturday night was Get Scared. This Post Hardcore band from Layton, Utah is made up of Nicholas Matthews (lead vocals), Johnny Braddock (lead guitar, backing vocals), Bradley “Lloyd” Iverson (bass, backing vocals), Dan Juarez (drums, percussion), and Adam Virostko (rhythm guitar). They have put out two studio albums so far and have another, titled Demons, to be released on October 30th through Fearless Records. They also sang a cover of “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit on the Punk Goes ’90s Vol. 2 album.
In his leather jacket and black contacts, Matthews had command of the crowd, screaming at them to “Get Their fucking hands up,” as he sang the mostly clean vocals to “Buried Alive,” “R.I.P.,” and “Suffer” from their upcoming album, along with “Told Ya So” and “Sarcasm.” The Pop Punk songs were sprinkled with Lloyd’s dark and dirty vocals, and fans responded by throwing themselves into the ever-growing pit. Check them out as continue their The Other Side tour across the US.
Downstairs, the stage was set for Portland, Oregon’s Doom and Blues band Witch Mountain. They officially formed in 1997 but went on a hiatus in the early 2000s while band members concentrated on their families and other projects, joining back up in 2009 to open for Pentagram. Their most recent album, Mobile of Angels, was released September 30, 2014. The band’s name is apt as Vocalist Kayla Dixon brings a witchy, Psychedelic sound to Justin Brown’s skull-thudding bass and Guitarist Rob Wong’s fuzzed out frets, all timed perfectly by Drummer Nate Carson as they played “Psycho Animundi,” “Veil Of The Forgotten,” and “Shelter.”
The crowd was completely mesmerized by Witch Mountain, caught in the band’s hypnotic spell, their songs long and drawn out like viscous taffy. Once their set was up, the band took a tour of the DCU Center Horror aspect of Rock and Shock, even getting photos with a few Horror icons. Catch them live as they will continue their current tour with Prong, Superjoint, and Danzig until the end of the month.
Wednesday 13 has made quite a name for himself since Murderdolls went on hiatus in 2004. His moniker being a combo of the daughter’s name from The Addams Family and the street number address of The Munsters, Wednesday 13 has since become known for his campy, tongue-in-cheek lyrics and outrageous stage presence. Splitting his time between his Horror Punk solo act and the Outlaw Country side project called Bourbon Crow, Wednesday 13 has released two albums in 2015 – Monster Of The Universe: Come Out And Plague with the former band and Off The Wagon On The Rocks with the latter.
At the Palladium, he hit the stage in full corpse paint and a studded black leather vest, his black hair blowing in the wind. The crowd reacted immediately and the floor came alive as the Horror music icon roared through his set, playing songs such as “I Want You… Dead” and “Get Your Grave On.” He even spit into the air and caught it in his mouth. When the set was over, Wednesday 13 waited backstage for his second venture with The Rocking Dead. As the month of October comes to an end, Wednesday 13 will be on the Astro Psycho European Tour for the month of November, so Europeans, check your local listings.
New Years Day
California natives New Years Day were up next. Fronted by the beautiful Ashley “Ash” Costello, this self-proclaimed Hauntedmansioncore band play a variety of music, never painting themselves into a musical corner, going with Hard, to Alt, to Gothic Rock, Hardcore, to Pop Punk, to Metal, giving them a wide range of styles to sample. Costello’s ability to jump from clean to dirty vocals is flawless, and the support of her two guitarists – Nikki Misery (lead) and Jeremy Valentyne (rhythm) – along with Bassist Brandon Wolfe and Drummer Trixx kept the band screeching and squalling along on the Palladium’s downstairs stage, playing “Kill Or Be Killed,” “I’m No Good,” and “Other Side,” among others.
Like Wednesday 13, Costello and Misery were also ready to play with The Rocking Dead later that night. Their most recent album, Malevolence, was released October 2, 2015 through Another Century Records, and their stop in Worcester was just one show in The Other Side Tour, the band’s first headlining tour since inception. Joining them on this tour are other Rock and Shockers The Relapse Symphony, Eyes Set To Kill, and Get Scared, along with Hard Dance band Darksiderz.
The Rocking Dead
It had finally come time for Rock photographer Jeremy Saffer’s super-group The Rocking Dead, their one night only show of rocking covers and outrageous stage antics, all MC’d by Jason Voorhees himself, Derek Mears. This lineup was compiled and juggled by music director Ace Von Johnson of Faster Pussycat, and the group this year was bigger than ever, with Doyle, Alex Story and Brandon Pertzborn of Doyle, Wednesday 13, Kyle Castronovo and Roman Surman from Wednesday 13, Bret Von Dehl, Mark Damon, Ash Costello and Nikki Misery all took breaks from their respective Rock and Shock cronies to join Von Johnson and Faster Pussycat’s Taime Downe, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts’ Acey Slade, and Pretty Restless’ Mark Damon to round out the crew.
As Mears announced each new addition, the super-group members took turns covering some of Rock’s most iconic songs, including The Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer,” Ramones’ “Pet Semetery,” Joan Jett & the Blackhearts’ “Bad Reputation,” Iggy Pop & The Stooges’ “Search and Destroy,” Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen,” White Zombie’s “Thunder Kiss 65,” The Misfit’s “Astrozombies,” “Hybrid Moments,” “Skulls,” and “Last Caress,” with each song pumping the crowd up even more than the last. One can only hope that The Rocking Dead will return again next year for Rock and Shock’s lucky thirteenth year.
Thrash Metal legends Prong were the next on stage. Formed in 1986, these Industrial Groove artists have inspired many a rocker, including Korn’s Jonathan Davis, Demon Hunter’s Ryan Clark, and Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor. The lineup currently consists of original member Tommy Victor (lead vocals, guitar), Jason Christopher (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Art Cruz (drums). Victor had double the work since he also plays guitar for Danzig. They started with “Beg To Differ,” and then, from the right side of the stage, Victor screamed out into the ecstatic crowd, “That shit better be off the floor before this song is over!” He then launched into “Unconditional” and the boys of Prong continued with “Ultimate Authority,” “Revenge… Best Served Cold,” and “Ruining Lives.”
When Victor swung his Schecter around and Cruz started counting off the beginning of “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck,” the crowd went insane. Both girls and guys climbed up onto the hands of the fans around them, trusting the crowd to carry them to the front of the stage, one after another. Even the people in the back were pushing their way forward. By the end of the set, all bets were off. Even after thirty years, Tommy Victor and his crew know how to bring down the house. The band has released a total of twelve albums and EPs, with the most recent record being a cover album titled Songs From The Black Hole, released March 31, 2015 through Steamhammer Records.
Veil of Maya
A new stage background dropped for Chicago’s Deathcore band Veil of Maya. Since their formation in 2004, Veil of Maya have had a multitude of rotating band members, with only Guitarist Marc Okubo and Drummer Sam Applebaum as original members. Bassist Danny Hauser joined in 2010 while Vocalist Lukas Magyar just began his Veil of Maya career in 2014. Colored lights flashed and the stage thundered with the sounds of Djent as the band members walked out onto the stage, arms raised in acceptance.
The rather mainstream looking Magyar roared with far from average, dirty vocals, his voice bellowing out of the Palladium’s speakers like a pissed off mountain troll. The band played “Nyu,” “Leeloo,” “It’s Not Safe to Swim Today,” “Lucy,” “Mikasa,” “Punisher,” “Unbreakable,” and “Aeris” to an uncontrollable crowd who did not want the music to stop. Be sure to check out their newest album, Matriarch, released May 12, 2015 through Sumarian Records. This is their first album to mix clean vocals with the gravelly growls fans are used to.
Previously known as Superjoint Ritual, New Orlean’s Hardcore Punk band Superjoint was the penultimate band on Saturday night as part of Danzig’s Blackest Of The Black tour. The current lineup is of course former Pantera legend Phil Anselmo (vocals, guitar), Jimmy Bower and Kevin Bond (guitars) as well as Joey “Blue” Gonzales (drums). Completely the band for the tour, they were joined by Stephen Taylor on bass. At the Palladium, they started with the Speed Metal “Oblivious Maximus” before settling down to a dull roar with “The Alcoholik” and “4 Songs.” As soon as the blast beats from “Waiting For The Turning Point” started, the crowd screamed its approval. Anselmo intense a frontman as ever had everyone continuing their screams as he sweat pure Metal fury through the performance.
Moving on, pit cranked up another notch as they kicked into “The Destruction Of A Person,” “Haunted Hated,” “Ozena,” and “Fuck Your Enemy.” When the set came to an end, Anselmo’s rocky, graveyard voice rumbled through the speakers as he thanked the crowd before turning the stage over to the night’s headliners. Be sure to mark the calendar for Anselmo’s Housecore Festival set to be held in San Antonio, TX November 12th through 15th.
Taking a break from an entire album of Elvis Presley covers, Vocalist Glenn Danzig and his crew, Prong’s Tommy Victor (guitar), Johnny Kelly (drums), and Steve Zing (bass, backing vocals), gave fans a special treat of Doom Metal monstrosity as the clock turned toward the witching hour in Worcester, Massachusetts. Standing in front of a giant horned skull backdrop and those familiar satanic statues, the 60-year-old rocker could still keep up the pace of his younger days to the surprise of no one. The set began with the wailing chords of “SkinCarver” as Victor took his place on stage. He then squalled his way into “Hammer Of The Gods” with Kelly keeping the song’s pace nice and tight before slowing things down just a bit for “Until You Call On The Dark.” Zing’s thuidding bass led the band into “Am I Demon,” the chugging train of “Her Black Wings,” and the deep, melancholy moaning of “How The Gods Kill.” The Worcester crowd then got a treat in “Let Yourself Go,” an Elvis Presley track that will be featured on the band’s upcoming cover album, Skeletons. Another Skeletons song followed with “Devil’s Angels,” this one from David Allan & The Arrows.
Going three for three, Danzig then covered Black Sabbath’s “N.I.B.,” another song from the new album. They then played “Black Hell,” a song originally written and performed for The Hangover 2 (2011) soundtrack. The night continued with “Long Way From Hell” and “Twist Of Cain.” The first set ended with a song that made this strung out crowd get their second wind, 1988’s “Mother.” After a short break, the crowd chanting and calling from the floor, Danzig returned to the stage to play “Brand New God” from 1994’s Danzig 4 and “She Rides” from the band’s debut album, Danzig (1988). Danzig could have played all night and the crowd at the Palladium would have been thrilled, but alas, it was time to close up for the night. Fans can catch the band playing with Rob Zombie on a double bill at The Joint in Las Vegas on October 30th. Do not forget Skeletons, due out by the end of November.
As the clock got ready to strike midnight, the Palladium crowd poured out into the chilly streets, shivering from freezing sweat and excitement. The adrenaline was still pumping, even after over seven hours of hardcore Rock and Metal. As they dispersed for the night, many began to relax, but only until they remembered the following night was Twiztid’s Fright Fest.