October 26, 2015 Rock and Shock Takes Over New England 10-16-15 w/ Hatebreed, Soulfly, Soilwork, & more
The first night of the twelfth Annual Rock and Shock at the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts on Friday October 16th was chock full of talent, with both old school rockers and bands brand new to the scene. The Palladium itself is a small venue, holding just over two thousand people at capacity, but is split up into three levels with a larger dance floor on the bottom at the stage and a stocked bar on the top. Previously E.M. Loew’s, the Palladium has beautiful architecture – high, ornate ceilings, marble staircases, and a general Art Deco style that contrasts highly with the dirty, growling vocals and thudding basslines that emanate nightly from the venue’s updated sound system. Luckily for music fans, a separate, second floor stage is also available, and during Rock and Shock, both stages are crammed with hard, heavy musical hitters.
Hard Rock band Ana Sapphira wasted no time kicking off Friday night on the upstairs stage. New Hampshire natives Jonathan Lamper (vocals), Jordan Meher and Travis Blake (guitars), Doug Allen (drums), and Austin Blake (bass) drew in a crowd of early fans as they broke the year long Rock and Shock silence. By looking at Lamper, one would not have expected such honest, raw vocals to come pouring out of him, while Blake and Allen kept the room thrumming as they played songs from both their 2012 debut album, Damien, and their newest record, Edge Walker, released June 30, 2015. If one is looking for some dirty Grunge, look no further than Ana Sapphira.
Dead By Wednesday
East Haven, Connecticut’s Dead By Wednesday were up next. Celebrating their ten year anniversary, Dead By Wednesday have released four albums so far, the most recent titled Death of The Rockstar, released June 24, 2014 through EarOne Productions, an album that puts the band over the top and into big boy territory, especially after winning the Connecticut Music Awards Best Metal award in both 2012 and 2013. Members Mike Modeste (bass, vocals), Joey Concepcion (guitar), and Opus (drums, vocals) have toured almost constantly in the past few years. Upstairs at the Palladium, the band hit the stage wailing and flailing as Modeste slipped his hands along his bass like a long lost lover. The vocals were fierce and the energy coming from this band was intense like a coiled up snake being hit by live electrical wire. Fans were treated to “Left For Dead,” “Shipwrecked,” “When In Rome,” “Chosen,” and “Pawns,” although the cover of Pantera’s “Domination” was certainly a highlight of the set. They will soon take a break in touring to record a new guest vocalist album, titled The Darkest of Angels, that includes Brian Fair of Shadows Fall, Carley Coma of Candiria, John Arch of Fates Warning, Rob Dukes of Generation Kill/Ex-Exodus, AK of Flotsam & Jetsam, and many more. Make sure to start looking for it in early 2016!
Disguise the Curse
Disguise the Curse hit the stage next. No strangers to Rock and Shock, this was the band’s second year playing the convention. These Massachusetts Metalheads formed just two years ago in 2013 with members Michael Merrill (vocals), Brian Haggins (bass), Joshua Bednarski (guitar), and Jamie Cross (drums) from previous projects Putrid Decay, Eternity Denied, Torn Asunder, Clip, and Unfortunate. The array of musical styles from this band was amazing as they tore the stage up, going from screeching, uncontrolled roller coaster rides to clean, smooth Blues-like tunes. Once again, Merrill held the crowd’s attention with vocals that could be felt as well as heard. The power behind Haggins’ bass battled evenly with the blast beats from Cross’ kit. Fans reveled in “Sun of Oblivion,” “When the King Dies,” “Ghost” and “The Devil’s Hand.” For more from this rock hard Heavy Metal band, check out their most recent EP, Lord of the Deep, released a year ago on Halloween. Fans should keep their eyes peeled for Disguise the Curse’s debut album, due to be released very soon. This band is not one to sit on their laurels during downtimes – they have also organized Hothfest, a huge event, headlined by Abnormality, to take place in Western Massachusetts in early 2016, one that is sure to defrost even the coldest Winter Metalhead’s heart.
Punk rockers Shore City followed close behind. These Providence, Rhode Island natives are made up of Mike Moura (bass, vocals), Chris “DK” Spurley (drums), and Jack Graham (guitar, vocals), and although guitarist Tim Sanborn is a member, he was unable to make the Rock and Shock performance. Although their first song, “Ghost of John Croslin,” started with a bit of a melancholy air, it quickly flipped over into a Dropkick Murphys-like anthem that whipped the crowd up into a frenzy. Next came “Stress,” “Mexican Horror Show,” the fantastic single “Mating Habits,” “Immortals,” and “Two Pink.” As the only Punk band to play the 2015 Rock and Shock, they made a slick, raucous addition to the show. Ever gracious, the boys of Shore City wish to thank Hatebreed, Soulfly, and the Palladium’s Eric Perkins for the chance to play. No, Shore City, the audience thanks you for coming!
The Grey Curtain
The Grey Curtain, another Massachusetts band, was up next. These somber rockers are originally from Marlborough and base all of their songs on the residents of a fictitious town called Apathy that is controlled by a demon from Purgatory. Every song tells the dark, unsettling story of this city of the damned, where residents welcome the blessed relief of death. To get the crowd in the mood, Vocalist Dennis Leighton sang, “I Greet Death Tonight With Open Arms” as Bassist Robert Miller churned along to the melancholy beat of Sean Daudelin’s drums. The set continued with “We’re All Due” and “The Opening,” a metallic tune reminiscent of early Alice and Chains that highlighted Dan Whiteknact’s guitar and James Miller’s smooth keyboards. This was The Grey Curtain’s last show of 2015 as they will now be secluding themselves in the studio as they work on their debut album, something fans have been waiting for with baited breath.
I Guard The Throne
Formed just three years ago in 2012, I Guard The Throne made their way to the stage. Also from Providence, I Guard The Throne revels in their slick, heavy Melodic Metal. On hand were Andrew Shea (vocals), Chris Gifford and Frank Skaggs (guitars), Ryan Schortmann (drums), and Armando Yamboa (bass), playing original tunes “Awakening,” “Mirrors,” and “Rituals Of A Dying Man.” Unfortunately, the set was cut short before “Imprints” could be sang, and although “Awakenings” was played through halfway on a darkened stage, the band still gave fans a kickass set as Shea’s dirty vocals rumbled like a thunderous avalanche out over the crowd and Shortmann kept up an almost uncontrollable drum playing. Look for them as they hit up Metal Fest on November 15 with Act of Defiance. A new EP is also in the works – start watching for it in the spring of 2016.
A Fathom Farewell
Another band to form in 2012, Post-Hardcore band A Fathom Farewell brought with them a new brand of Metalcore to the Palladium stage. Originally from Boston, Alex Cohen (vocals), Luke Clark (guitar), Rob Kogut (drums), and Jesse Ljunggren (bass) mixed up a blend of original tunes influenced by Freebasing Metal and Armenian music with a bit of Pop Punk highlights. This band’s energy was never ending as they played a few older songs – “Rise,” “Drown,” “Rest Well,” “Face Your Fears,” and “Limits” – plus new song “Live To Take.” One felt a rush of positive agitation as each song pumped the crowd up even more. Although taken aback by the amount of people who stuck around to hear them play in lieu of bigger bands downstairs, the people in the crowd knew what they wanted to hear, and that was A Fathom Farewell. They have also announced a full length album for 2016, complete with videos and new merchandise. Keep watch for that!
Boston natives Without Warning were the last band Friday night on the upstairs Palladium stage. Formed in 2013, these Hard Rockers know how to wrap up a night of chaos and fun. This band takes old school and makes it new school. Ian Raposa (vocals, bass), Keith Conway (lead guitar), Darryl Santana (rhythm guitar, vocals), and Nate Lavins (drums) stirred together a slurry of head-crushing vocals, ear-splitting riffs, and chest-thumping beats. The Iron Maiden cover “The Trooper” was spot on perfect while original tunes “Decay,” “Here I Stand,” and “Burning Skies” showed the crowd why Without Warning won a shot to play at Van’s Warped Tour 2015 through a battle of the bands, even though they had only been together for a little over a year at the time. They also won the Break Thru Music’s Battle for New England Metal Fest 2015. Now that is some resume! They are currently working on their first EP which should be available sometime in the next few months. Should they play anywhere nearby, do not pass them up!
Downstairs on Friday night, a different party was going on. With a much larger floor, the main stage at the Palladium was a headbanger’s paradise, with plenty of room to branch out and expend some energy. For folks who wanted to watch the mayhem, the upper risers were definitely the place to hang and keep an eye on the action.
Brick by Brick
Rock and Shock veterans Brick by Brick were the first ones up. These Albany, New York natives have their feet firmly on the ground even as they rise to the top of the Hardcore Metal scene. Added in time for last year’s event, new vocalist Ray Mazzola (Full Blown Chaos) was joined by Guitarist Mike Valente, Bassist Sean Green and Drummer James Muller to remind the crowd why they were invited back to the Palladium again this year. They hit the stage hard and fast, never letting up, prepping the crowd like a whirling dervish. Mazzola’s rock-grinding vocals are a perfect match to this breakneck band. Despite having only three fingers on one hand, Valente twisted off blistering frets, one after another, while Green pounded away at the bass, the entire band a blur of black t-shirts and bandanas. Christened at Rock and Shock were new songs “These Streets” and “Burden Of Life” from their upcoming album. Although the first three CDs and three EPs from Brick by Brick are currently out of print, the band’s long-awaited fourth album, The World, My Enemy, is finally set to be released November 13th of this year through Eulogy Records. Fans of high intensity Metal should not pass this one up.
Alice, Texas’ Shattered Sun were up next. Signed on with Victory Records, these Metal maniacs just celebrated their ten year anniversary this past Summer, and what a ride it has been. Joseph Guajardo (bass), Henry Garza (keys/vocals), Jessie Santos (guitar/vocals), Robert Garza (drums), Daniel Trejo (guitar), and Marcos Leal (lead vocals) make up this Texan six-piece, and through their music, they have brought the genre-bending Southern Metal sound to the rocky surface. Giving off a surprisingly positive vibe, Shattered Sun have forgone the negative, angst-ridden tunes of most other Metal bands for brighter, yet just as heavy, lyrical content. This year, the band gratefully accepted the amped up crowd tossed to them by the previous band, flipped them over and cranked the engine. The crowd responded in full as a pit immediately opened up on the floor. They played “Reign Over Me,” “Awaken,” “The Ultimatum,” “No Sympathy,” “Waging War,” “Deadset,” and the title song for their album, “Hope Against Hatred.” Over the past decade, they have forged a name for themselves, even without an official studio release. That all changed when Victory Record’s Hope Against Hatred hit the shelves in 2014 after a long, three year wait, giving fans that much needed disc to crank in their CD players. Look for their newest video for the track “Waging War,” due out in a few weeks, and catch them as they continue to tour the country with both Soilwork and Soulfly on the We Sold Our Souls To Metal tour.
Although Polish Technical Death Metal band Decapitated was set to play here, because of issues with VISAs, they were unable to join the Rock and Shock party in 2015. Instead, Helsingborg, Sweden’s Melodic Death Metalists Soilwork hit the stage a bit earlier than expected. Together for two decades now, Soilwork has made themselves into one of the biggest names out of the European scene. This band was one the crowd had been waiting for, and as soon as the lights went down, the Shattered Sun pit picked up right where it had left off. Devil horns were waving and heads were banging. Vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid mentioned that it has been almost three years since their last visit to the Palladium, then yelled, “Are you gonna show me what you’re made of, Worcester?” The band then broke into the title song of their tenth studio album, 2015’s “The Ride Majestic.” Guitarist Sylvain Coudret was perfection, his fingers a talented blur across the strings while Drummer Dirk Verbeuren pounded away at the kit, his long, dark hair whipping around his head.
As the band continued on with “Nerve,” “Death In General,” “Bastard Chain,” “Alight In The Aftermath,” and “Stabbing The Drama,” Bassist Markus Wibom – the June 2015 replacement for longtime band member Ola Fink – kept it up and cranked it out as if he had been part of the band from the beginning. As soon as the chords for the last song of the set, “Spectrum Of Eternity,” began, the floor went wild, singing along and smashing their way across the pit. Soilwork will continue to play a few more shows on the West Coast with Soulfly and Shattered Sun on the We Sold Our Souls To Metal tour, but after Halloween, the band will return to Europe with Hatesphere for the second leg of their tour. If the American response is any indication, Soilwork will make it a point to come back to The States sooner rather than later.
It seemed as though Progressive Thrash Metal band Sanctuary had been lost for good. After the Seattle, Washington natives formed back in 1985, they released their debut album, Refuge Denied, in 1987, a record produced by Megadeath’s Dave Mustaine. After pressure from the recording studio to fit into a Grungier mold, the band broke up in 1992. Then, a miracle happened. In 2010, four of the founding members — Vocalist Warrel Dane, Bassist Jim Sheppard, Guitarist Lenny Rutledge, and Drummer Dave Budbill — came together for a few select reunion performances, and crowd response and stage chemistry convinced them to give it another go. They added Guitarist Brad Hull (Forced Entry) to complete their quintet. After only five years since their reunion, the band plays as if the previous eighteen years had never happened.
As Budbill counted off, Rutledge teased out the beginning chords of “Arise And Purify,” leaving the end open for a fantastic solo by Hull that flowed right into “Let The Serpent Follow Me.” The crowd went spastic as “Seasons of Destruction” started and continued to thrash and smash through the boiling pit. “Die For My Sins,” “Frozen,” “Existence Fading,” and “Future Tense” followed. Dane announced their last song of the night, “Taste Revenge,” and even though fans were thrilled with what they had gotten so far from these Seattle natives, some felt like Sanctuary left the stage a bit too soon. The band’s most recent release, The Year The Sun Died, had been released last October through Century Media, and they are currently jamming together with licks and lyrics to work on forming their next album.
The penultimate band of Friday night, Soulfly, wasted no time in getting their already sweaty crowd swirling once again. Lead Vocalist Max Cavalera, already pumped up himself after rocking out backstage, grabbed the gas mask wearing skeleton-mic and bellowed the name of every band that had played before them, followed by a “Fuck yeah!” Hearing this, the moshing crowd became ravenously rampant, locks of sopping hair spraying those around the pit and leaving more than just sweat pooled on the floor of the Palladium. The real show began with “We Sold Our Souls To Metal,” blast beats and thunderous head banging. With a caveman-like growl, Cavalera roared, “Archangel!” into the mic as his drummer son, Zyon, counted off the beginning of the title song from their newest album, released just this past August through Nuclear Blast.
The band continued with another Archangel tune, “Ishtar Rising,” before jumping back a few years to play “Blood Fire War Hate” from 2008’s Conquer. This familiar tune reinvigorated the crowd once again with people practically swimming across hands onto the stage. Touring bassist Mike Leon thrummed the axe as Cavalera yelled, “Fuck shit up” to begin “Refuse/Resist.” The band members played like a well-oiled machine that always knew what the others were thinking. Sweaty locks of hair stuck to the sides of Max’s face as he sang, his deep voice the dream of every dirty vocalist around, and Lead Guitarist Marc Rizzo strutted around the stage, full of nervous energy. Next came “Sodomites” before a short break. The second act began with “Prophecy,” “Seek N Strike,” and the Metalhead anthem “Roots Bloody Roots.” Any Soulfly show would be incomplete without “Jumpdafuckup,” and seemingly just moments after it started, the set ended with “Eye For An Eye.” Ironically, Soulfly decided to forgo their Iron Maiden cover of “The Trooper,” but all was well, since Without Warning had covered it earlier in the evening.
As Soulfly left the stage, they were already planning the next stop on their We Sold Our Souls To Metal tour, a run that will continue throughout the end of October with both Soilwork and Shattered Sun. For the second leg, they will still be joined by Shattered Sun while Soilwork takes their leave to tour with Hatesphere, and instead will take with them the Sludge Metal band Crowbar and Groove Metal band Incite. Should Soulfly and Company make their way to your area, run, do not walk, to the ticket office.
Now it was finally time for the headliners of the night, Hardcore Metal Punk band Hatebreed, to hit the stage ten minutes early to the sounds of Inner Circle’s “Bad Boys.” Hatebreed have been all around the world and back again, but for this, their twentieth anniversary tour, they have decided to kick it off back in New England to celebrate with the people back home. The band’s most recent album, The Divinity Of Purpose, was a labor of love that took over three years to form and was finally released in January of 2013. Vocalist Jamey Jasta thanked the crowd for sticking around until practically midnight to see them and thanked Soulfly before them, saying the band would not be here without their help. Drummer Matt Byrne started counting off and the band launched into “This Is Now.” Jasta then introduced Guitarist Frank Novinec, who had joined the band back in 2006 before asking the crowd to give themselves a hand. By this time, the entire floor was a pit as adrenaline-fueled revelers threw themselves back into the fray.
As Jasta worked the crowd up even more, Guitarist Wayne Lozinak and Bassist Chris Beattie tore into “Facing What Consumes You” from 2003’s The Rise Of Brutality. Suddenly, the stage went dark, and from the darkness, the sounds of “Honor Never Dies” from The Divinity of Purpose poured from the speakers. “Raise your mother fucking hands,” Jasta yelled, thumping his chest to the music and imploring the crowd to take it back to 1997 as the band played “Empty Promises” from Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire.
As this Grammy nominated band closed down the house, Rock and Shock patrons gathered their car keys and cell phones and made their way back to the real world once again. Hatebreed is rumored to have a new album coming out in the Spring. Fans will have to keep their ears to the ground for news of this upcoming musical event!