It was the warmest day San Francisco had seen in 2010. On my way to the venue, an unusual number of shady characters catcalled and said unrepeatable things to me. I was filled with murderous intentions.
Upon entering the venue, I went straight to merch to meet up with Ol Drake of Evile, whom I had an interview with. After discovering the balcony was closed and at a loss for other quiet places to do the interview, Ol suggested going backstage. I was stopped at the door for not having the right credentials, until someone from the production office walked by and recognized me because he reads my site and let me in. Love it when that happens 🙂
Ascending the haphazard stairway and hallway up to the dressing rooms, Ol apologizes for the smell. “I promise it’s not us”. Haha, sometimes the fact that my nose doesn’t work very well comes in handy. He walks me to a small room that was rather warm, where the rest of the band were relaxing. “You can interview all of us if you’d like”. “OK” I say, as I quickly edit my questions in my head to make them tailored less for Ol and more for the band.
You can read the interview here.
Afterward, I grabbed a beer before the first set, taking my usual position at the left corner of the stage (last night, I broke from my normal spot, causing confusion for some people I normally say hi to).
What follows is the profiling for the bands that slayed on stage at Killfest.
Woe of Tyrants had the tough job of opening a long bill to a crowd that was still rather scattered. They handled it like pros, though. The vocalist’s screams were not only heard but seen, as his face reddened and a large vein prominently protruded from his neck. The drummer had some nice helicopter hair action going- a move generally reserved for the Euro bands. Between songs, the guitarist would yell and hold out the claw, which got quite a bit of feedback from the audience. I noticed the bassist did some interesting things while playing, like holding his hand over the fretboard rather than under it at times.
M.O.: Multiple stab wounds to the abdomen
I kind of assumed that the word of Evile had permeated the metal community already, but a quick survey revealed awareness in name only for most. Luckily, the crowd thickened as the set went on. But if anyone missed their opener, ‘Infected Nation’…..I’m sorry for your loss. Guitarist Ol Drake’s axe literally looks like a weapon, and when he plays he kind of stabs it to the side as such. Evile are all about speed and precision, showcased often by Ol’s guitar work. But they also know how to let the songs breathe. With Matt Drake at the helm, Ben Carter keeping time, and Joel Graham taking on bass duties left by the late Mike Alexander, Evile proved their place as a leader of the new wave of thrash metal bands.
M.O.: drawn and quartered
One of the other leaders of the current thrash metal movement is Warbringer. After seeing them last year, I immediately enlisted with them. This band has a fire within them, and the biggest flames are John Kevill on vocals and John Laux on guitar. With furious energy they pound the stage whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Between songs, Kevill is blowing snot rockets that would make the person on that stage the night before proud. At the end of the set, Laux jumped off stage in front of the barrier and played in the crowd’s face, and Kevill made a very forewarned leap into the crowd. Warbringer brings it, and they tend to be a crowd favorite.
Moving from thrash to death metal, God Dethroned delivered their slow and dramatic paired with fast and relentless tracks, They don’t look like your usual death metal band, but then again I’ve never seen one from the Netherlands before. God Dethroned had a tough job coming after Warbringer, and without the flash, they seemed unanimated, probably unfairly so, in comparison. But they proved to be a worthy warm up for what came next.
M.O.: blunt force trauma to the head
Last time I saw Vader was also with Warbringer. While I enjoyed their set more this time, they- perhaps unfairly- get compared directly to the other Polish death metal band, Behemoth, in my mind. The crowd had filled out by now, and bodies were moving under the weight of Vader’s songs. All that slaying occurring on stage was starting to especially weigh heavy on me.
M.O.: close range shotgun wound
I was able to stay for a few songs of the Overkill set- but I wish I could have stayed for more. They had a fun, albeit nostalgia-laced energy about them. The guitarist on my side in particular was funny, throwing his pick in the air and catching it, and pointing and sticking his tongue out at the fans singing along. The vocalist, Bobby Ellsworth, is really jacked for an older fella. But due to my overkill in scheduling this week, I had to tear myself away to make the trek home.
As I went to say goodbye to a friend, a kid stepped forward and asked, “would you go in the pit with me?” I feel so bad for laughing, because is some weird way it was really kinda sweet, but I respectfully declined.
On my way home, the cover of darkness took away most of the warmth of the day, but the attitude of the men on the street prevailed.
M.O.: shot through the heart