Blood Feast’s 2017 comeback album “Future State of Wicked” was easily among the best thrash albums of the year with it’s frenzied intensity and blistering shreds that proved the old school guys still got it, so naturally, when they booked a show in my area I made it a point to attend.
Promoter, Chuck Parsons, booked the event at the up and coming metal venue the Maple Grove Tavern. The Maple Grove Tavern has been gaining a reputation as a cool, metal club in recent months, mainly because they’re willing to book rad shows at decent rates while not charging an arm and a leg for booze. Also, they’re a bit gritty without being disgusting. Girls can feel safe using the bathrooms.
Even better, the lineup consisted of the cream of the crop in local fair. Subtype Zero (formerly known as Cringe), HAMMR and FaithXtractor opened for legendary thrashers, Blood Feast.
Perhaps the most impressive band of the evening, other than Blood Feast themselves, Subtype Zero when straight for the audience’s jugular with their harrowing brand of bay area style thrash. Channeling 1985, these Cleveland thrashers melted faces with an intensity reminiscent early Slayer.
These guys are thrash, through and through with distinct hardcore and punk undertones and shreds for weeks. What’s more, with each member’s average age being 21 or younger, these guys left a crowd full of tough dude old enough to be their dads in awe. Subtype Zero played in support of their 2018 release, “The Astral Awakening.” Keep your eyes on these guys. They’re going places.
Given multi-instrumentalist J. Hammr’s reputation in the local Cleveland scene, I had high hopes for this band’s performance. J. Hammr is known for his work with the band Devils with the label Redefining Darkness. Despite Hammr debut album, “Unholy Destruction” being a overall effective balance of calculated blackened slop and distortion heavy thrash riff magic, the band’s performance at the Maple Grove didn’t really come together for me and several others in the crowd.
I think a big reason HAMMR failed to deliver had to do with the loudness of the drums in comparison with the guitars and the vocals. It really drew attention to repetitive patterns in the drumming that could have been easily overlooked if pushed into the background more. That said, the band’s latest effort, “Unholy Destruction,” is great stuff for fans of Black Witchery, Revenge and Blasphemy. Hopefully they fine tune their live performance in the future.
Other than Blood Feast, the band I was most excited about that evening was FaithXtractor. Known for a bludgeoning form of melodic old school death metal, FaithXtractor always delivers an intense and professional live performance.
The band started off a bit rocky, with sound issues being largely to blame, but quickly came into their own on about third track. Drummer, Ash Thomas (of Estuary fame along with the rest of the band) was the true MVP as he belted out demonic growls into the mic while never missing a beat.
Guitarist, Cody Knarr, donned a Grave t-shirt, which perfectly exemplifies where FaithXtractor draws its influences from. Both Cody and bass player, Zdenka Prado, whipped their long manes about furiously and exhibited true stage presence for the entirety of the show.
Cody Knarr’s solos pierced through skin on tracks such as “Flame of the Death Ritual” and “Damned to Return.” FaithXtractor played new tracks “Forsworn Then Burned” and “Damned to Return“, among others in support of their 2018 release “Proverbial Lambs to the Ultimate Slaughter,” which they released back in July.
Finally, the moment we’d all been waiting on was upon us. Strapped with energy, Blood Feast hit the stage. The band has had some lineup changes since their formation back in 1987, with the only original member being guitar player, Adam Tranquili, but that fact didn’t slow them down one bit.
Blood Feast opened with “Darkside” a blast from the past from their debut album, “Kill For Pleasure,” setting the tempo for a vigorous night of thrashing to come. They followed this with newer material, such as “INRI” and “Underling,” songs which barely differentiated from the older tracks, in a good way. This is a band that knows their style and does it well, regardless of lineup changes or trends.
Vocalist, Chris Natalini, was energetic and engaged the audience throughout the set. During the new track, “Off With their Heads” he held the mic out to the audience as we all loudly sang along. But, perhaps, the coolest part of the set was when he went live on Facebook with the crowd, leaving a timestamp for fans to look back to for the rest of their days.
The band ended the performance proper with old school tracks, Menacing Thunder and Hunted, Stalked and Slain, leaving the crowd with serious whiplash. One of the coolest things about Blood Feast is how down to earth the guys are. They all stayed after a bit and engaged with fans. If Blood Feast comes to your city, don’t be a poser. Go! You won’t regret it.
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