Last night I made the three hour journey to Worcester, Massachusetts to see two of my favorite thrash metal bands Skull Hammer and Lich King open for the legendary crossover band D.R.I. The night was full of old school circle pits, head banging and the usual metal madness that one can expect at a thrash metal show.
The night began with a hardcore band from Massachusetts who go by the name Terror Rising. Although I’ve never been a fan of the hardcore genre Terror Rising was a band that immediately grabbed hold of my attention and refused to let go. Throughout the set the bands vocalist jumped around the stage while screaming lyrics and demanding movement from the crowd. His demands were answered as the band dished out neck snapping break downs while bringing just as much energy to the stage as their front man. Hardcore fans were pleased by Terror Rising’s set and showed it with their display of tribal like dances in the pit. As the bands set came to a close the energy in the room was high, sweat trickled off the faces of the moshers. The bar had been set pretty high with Terror Rising’s performance and the crowd was officially ready for an epic night of metal madness.
The old-school thrash trio Skull Hammer were up next and began their set with the track “I Defy,” almost immediately heads began to bang, fist started to pump and the maniacs in the crowd started moshing. With momentum on their side Skull Hammer riffled through fan favorites “Pay It In Blood” and “Balls To The Bone” before stopping to inform the crowd of some new material they were about to unleash. As the band dished out their brand new songs action in the crowd came to an end, looking around it was clear that people were mesmerized by guitarist Steve McArdle’s level of skill. No fret was off limits and no speed was to fast for this warrior of thrash metal and matching this level of skill and intensity were drummer Dan Hammer and bassist Matt Seax. The band fed off the crowds energy as well as each others which only grew stronger as the set went on. However all good things must come to an end and just as Skull Hammer finished playing their brand new song “Nomads of the Wasteland” their set came to an abrupt end. Much to the displeasure of the crowd Skull Hammer had run out of time and were forced to end their set earlier than expected. Although cut short the band had easily won over the crowd with a set that I would consider one of the best of the night.
The always pleasing Lich King were up next and immediately the band whipped the crowed into a frenzy with opening track “Act Of War.” However this was not good enough for vocalist Tom Martin who demanded everyone in the crowd to participate and taunted the people standing in the back with their arms crossed to jump into the pit. Rob, Joe, Dave and Brian made Tom’s request one that could not be ignored by executing the tracks “ED-209” and “World Gone Dead” with mind blowing perfection. Although out of breath the band was not yet finished with the crowd and once again the bands vocalist demanded more action from the crowd by barking orders at the audience to destroy the city of Worcester. To achieve this goal the band ironically pulled out the only thrash metal song about being nice, the fan favorite “Behaver.” The crowd grew exhausted, the onslaught from the previous bands mixed with the current thrash assault that was taking place were proving to be to much for the crowd to handle. However once lead guitarist Rob began laying down the opening riffs for the song “Combat Mosh” the crowds energy was renewed and violence once again ensued. Similar to Skull Hammer, Lich King seemed to have run out of time sooner than expected and were unable to finish their set the way they would have liked. However judging from the smiles on the crowds face it was clear that Lich King had given the people what they wanted despite being cut short.
The fourth and final band before D.R.I. took the stage was the crossover band Los Bungalitos. Similar to the bands before, Los Bungalitos executed their set with an energy level that could not be measured. Jumping around the stage the five members of this band could not be ignored. Vocalist Enrique bellowed out hardcore screams while the rest of the band stomped out catchy riffs designed to have heads banging and audience members moving around in a circular motion. Just as the the bands set was coming to a close the band pulled out on final surprise which was a killer cover of the Pantera song “Strength Beyond Strength.” The crowd approved and showed their appreciation by dancing around the pit and violently screaming along with the lyrics. Los Bungalitos had successfully impressed the crowd with their unique blend of crossover, and like all the previous bands had done a phenomenal job preparing the crowd for what was next.
At long last the band everyone was waiting for had finally taken the stage. D.R.I. are currently touring in celebration of their 30th Anniversary and judging by this performance the band hasn’t lost a step. Playing a mammoth two hour set the band fired through a diverse set which spanned their entire career. Although most of the fans present were under the age of 30 they knew every word to every song and moshed HARD the entire time the band was on the stage. Recently guitarist Spike Cassidy has under gone a total colectomy*, however not even major surgery like this can slow down this legendary axe man. Spike’s guitar playing was without question outstanding and his love for what he does is larger than life. The rest of the band put on a performance similar to that of Spikes, and the crowd responded with stage dives and old-school circle pits. A monumental performance to mark a monumental occasion. D.R.I. proved that age is only a number and that with great passion comes a great performance.
*To donate to the Spike Cassidy Cancer fund go to this location. Anything you can give will be appreciated by both the band and the Cassidy family.