The Metal Alliance Tour stopped by Irving Plaza on Sept. 13 to sink its fangs into the Big Apple. Having missed the opening two bands, Invidia and Black Fast, I arrived in time to catch Havok’s set. This quartet of thrashers has some tight riffs and a dedicated following. The band’s sound continues the thrash tradition – just passable, scratchy vocals a la Max Cavalera and Destruction’s Schmeier, backed by high-speed riffs and technical drumming.
Most of the group’s songs are socio-politically themed and the brief set was a Latin-tinged exercise in youthful ferocity. Touring in support of its newest album, Conformicide, Havok’s output should satisfy fans of early Megadeth and the aforementioned artists.
Next on Deck
Shortly after filling in for his wife at Crowbar’s merch table, singer and guitarist Kirk Windstein led the sludge metal quartet’s 35-minute set. Original bassist Todd Strange continues his full-time duties after a 15-year disappearance, a welcome – if seldom-heard – presence and contribution. Downtuned favorites like “Planets Collide” and “Cemetery Angels” appeased the denim-clad crowd which continued to grow as the band reached its closer, “Like Broken Glass.” The consensus among some fans was that Windstein’s raspy vocals were lost in the mix and the set was too short. Nobody was demanding their money back, however.
Reaching a Fever Pitch
Overkill’s opening tune always appropriately whips the crowd into a frenzy. From the moment the tribal drumbeat of “Mean Green Killing Machine” (which also kicks off the band’s fantastic new outing, The Grinding Wheel) began thumping away, everyone braced for the imminent eruption. Dual guitars and bass chimed in and after the layered, one-minute intro, singer Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth leaped out to center stage. From that point, the crowd was locked in. Overkill’s sound has evolved slightly over the years from punk roots, but the mix of classic ‘Kill anthems like “Wrecking Crew” and “Hello From The Gutter” were interspersed among recent tracks like Grinding’s “Shine On” and “Goddamn Trouble,” as well as 2012’s “Electric Rattlesnake.” Surprisingly omitted from the set list was Grinding‘s lead single, “Our Finest Hour” and any trace of the previous bone crusher, White Devil Armory.
More from the Show
What sets Overkill aside from other groups (on the bill and in the genre) is its ability to write choruses – or at least, chorus-like phrases that inspire group vocals and audience participation. It doesn’t take much for a metal head to yell out “Rotten…to…the Core!” and proceed to head bang or mosh. Blitz also had no problem making sure the band got its due, darting off-stage during extended solos and long instrumental sections, featured in the more recent songs, including “Ironbound.” The New Jersey-based quintet closed out the night with longtime favorites “Horrorscope,” “Elimination” and an almost-obligatory, profanity-laced Subhumans cover; ‘Kill demonstrated its adoration for the crowd with a big ol’ “Fuck You.”
“Alliance” is an almost too-safe description for the tour, as there obviously was a high level of camaraderie between the bands. The final three mentioned each other and called on the crowd to throw their support behind them. With a jackal’s grin, Blitz even spoke a couple of sentences in Spanish between songs to get a quick laugh and engage with Havok’s fans, many of whom probably were not yet born by the time the band was producing their early material. If there was any drawback to a show with this much talent, it is that the respective sets were too short.
Video: Overkill – “Wrecking Crew” @ Irving Plaza New York 09/13/17 – Fernandinirios/YouTube.
Photo Images: Justin Smulison
Left: Crowbar (From left – Matt Brunson, Kirk Windstein, Tommy Buckley, Todd Strange.)
Right: Overkill (From left – Derek “The Skull” Tailer, Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, D.D. Verni.)