In support of their shiny new album, Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie, Danish band Volbeat have teamed up with Killswitch Engage and Black Wizard for a late summer tour across North America. An interesting pairing, the tour launched in Bangor, Maine on August 6th at the Rise Above Festival before heading forth to Montreal, Quebec to play Heavy MTL on the 7th. Quite an opening, for a trek that will last through September 18th, the excitement would continue when the three bands would invade the borough of Brooklyn on Monday, August 8th, as one of the many bills to christen the opening season of the New York City’s newest venue, Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk. A historic spot, with one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the US, the birthplace of Nathan’s hot dogs, as well as a place with countless stories of generations engaging in leisurely fun, a night with Volbeat and company would be a special experience ready to unfold.
Located off the beach, a dense summer humidity was in the air, but in spite of it, the energy level was high inside Ford Amphitheater as the stage lights lifted on Doom Metallers Black Wizard. Hailing from New Westminster, British Columbia, Black Wizard began in 2010, the same year they independently released their self-titled debut album. Making a name for themselves, and independently releasing their sophomore album Young Wisdom in 2013, after years of hard work they now find themselves a part of respected French label Listenable Records. A big step forward for the young band, this past January saw the release of their latest effort, New Waste, an album oozing with originality. Now, the lineup consisting of Vocalist/Guitarist Adam Grant, Guitarist Kenny Cook, Bassist Evan Joel, and Drummer Eugene Parkomenko were ready to cast their spell on Coney Island.
Wasting no time in awing the audience, Black Wizard immediately attacked with hard vocal song “Revival,” followed up by “Harsh Time,” which had rolling drums like thunder into powerful guitar riff action. With vocals reminiscent of early Thrash and melody of Deathcore, the band took a moment to address the audience, thanking them for arriving early. Continuing with wild intensity, “H.U.G.H” came before “Vivian Girls,” and “The Priest” ended the set with a nostalgic vibe, drenched with powerful vocals. Provoking a very positive reaction, Black Wizard departed from the stage showing their potential to be a big name with their quality of music and live performance chops.
Now, with more people steadily arriving to the open air amphitheater, anticipation built as Killswitch Engage prepared to take the stage. A band that needs little introduction, Killswitch Engage has a rich Metal history, dating back to 1999 when they were one of the original pioneers of the New England Metalcore revolution. Quickly attaining an adoring fanbase, the band has gone on to release seven impressive studio records, including 2016’s gigantic effort, Incarnate. The second full-length album since original Lead Vocalist Jesse Leach returned in 2012, it seems the band is firing on all cylinders, fully reunited. Joining Guitarist Joe Stroetzel, Bassist Mike D’Antonio, Guitarist/Backup Vocalist Adam Dutkiewicz, and Drummer Justin Foley, Killswitch Engage is known for their live shows, and for just cause. They engage, interact, and have personality on stage, something this enthusiastic audience eagerly awaited.
Following the lengthy intermission, the lights dimmed and the crowd, now larger than before, completely lost their minds. Through the waves of applause, the opening chords to the iconic “My Curse” rang true and clear through as Leach posed the question, “New York City! What is up, how are we feelin’ tonight?” Laughing a bit to himself, Leach and fellow bandmates played through a setlist of some of their most heavy and popular songs including “Strength of the Mind,” “Fixation on the Darkness,” “Rose of Sharyn,” and “Cut Me Loose.” Needless to say, it seemed every member of the audience was a Killswitch Engage fan as they screamed out every lyric and held court for a pit that also doubled as a crowd-surfing area.
“This is not junior prom, this is a Metal show! Grab a beer and move!” was a phrase taken very literally among the concert goers as Killswitch Engage proceeded into “This is Absolution,” “Hate by Design,” “Always,” and the very famous “My Last Serenade.” As is per usual with the band, they took a moment to address the importance of supporting live music to keep artistry alive and the human condition, encouraging their fans to always be mindful. Then, without further ado, they led into the last of their intense set, pulverizing with “The End of Heartache” and “In Due Time,” two tracks that saw the biggest pit thus far. With the parting statement of “Thank you so much New York, and thank you Volbeat for having us on tour. They’re up next, peace!,” the audience was hyped up to a new level, and it was all thanks to another powerful performance from Killswitch Engage.
By the time this final last intermission rolled in, a curtain dressed the front of the stage for a set change as the rather social crowd mingled and bought more drinks. In high spirits, forgetting the weather was like pea soup and it was a Monday night, they knew Volbeat was just an arms reach away. From the city of Copenhagen, Denmark, Volbeat have been at this game for fifteen years now. With roots and inspiration from the likes of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley heavily imbued into their Metal and Punk Rock sound, it is easy to see why, in recent years, they have become a favorite in the United States. A band impossible to put in a box, they are led by vocalist Michael Poulsen, Drummer Jon Larsen, Guitarist/Backing Vocalist Rob Caggiano, and newest member, Bassist Kaspar Boye Larsen, forming to create an eclectic blend of styles. Proud of their unique reputation, Volbeat, like Killswitch Engage, are known for the live performance. With that in mind, the first hints of music creeped out from behind the curtain, and once the curtain dropped to reveal headliner Volbeat in blue lights, the fans drowned the area in screams.
Using Motörhead’s “Born to Raise Hell” as their introduction, Volbeat took their places on stage as “Bring the noise!” was their sage advice to their fans as they launched into “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown.” A fitting start, they reigned the crowd with a cocktail of fan-favorites including “Heaven Nor Hell,” “A Warrior’s Call,” and their distinctive cover, “I Only Want To Be With You.” Orchestrating the adrenaline levels higher, Poulsen offered more Metal advice, telling everyone to “bring out those fists,” asking how everyone was feeling, and then commenting on them all being good people. Continuing onward through their dense showcase, Volbeat ripped through “Sad Man’s Tongue,” “Lola Montes,” “The Gates of Babylon,” “Dead But Rising,” “16 Dollars,” and “Let It Burn.” Having a blast with not only the audience, but as a band on stage as well, Poulsen, Caggiano, and Kasper moved about smiling, laughing, but keeping the music tight through “Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza,” “Radio Girl,” as well as “Goodbye Forever.”
Then, to the delight of all, the concert took a twist as Misfit’s founding Bassist Jerry Only took center stage in full costume to help Volbeat cover “Angelfuck.” Having developed a good friendship with Only through the years, his trip out to Coney Island was much appreciated as there is always more than one spectator in the audience sporting a Misfits t-shirt. Following the waves of applause after the pleasant surprise, Volbeat continued with “The Mirror and the Ripper” but then left the stage only to be demanded back by their adoring fans. Returning to play a four piece encore, songs “Black Rose,” “Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood,” “Seal the Deal,” and the hit “Still Counting” saw hands in the airs, voices joining in singing along, as well as heads banging.
Quite the finale, the applause only ceased once each Volbeat member left the stage, really proving how rousing the performance was. Overall, the concert hit the sweet spot of every person who made the trip out. From Doom Metal, to Metalcore, to Funk Metal, and everything in between, the show inspired both mosh pits and camaraderie. With a full month of shows still in the cards, it seems that Volbeat, Killswitch Engage, and Black Wizard are destined to have a successful run together.Photos by: Aintellin Photography