The Regency Ballroom
September 1, 2016
All photos by Raymond Ahner.
Metal fans were treated to an exceptional bill this past Thursday night at the Regency as Killswitch Engage, Exodus, and Unearth came through as part of a short three day mini-tour. All three acts lived up to the billing, each delivering fantastic performances.
Killswitch Engage unleashed a ferocious 16-song setlist that touched on songs from just about every one of their studio albums, managing the arduous task of balancing older material with songs from their latest release, Incarnate. The band opened up with the popular track “My Curse,” from the As Daylight Dies album, which kicked the already excited crowd into overdrive as everyone wildly banged their heads and moshed to the song’s slamming riffage and powerful vocals. This was one of many songs that had been recorded with former vocalist Howard Jones but semi-new vocalist Jesse Leach (their original singer, returning a couple of years ago) had no trouble in handling the vocals on these tracks; in fact he injected a great deal of liveliness into those songs.
Next the band played a few newer tracks from Incarnate and their previous album Disarm the Descent, demonstrating how tight knit this incarnation of the band has become, managing to combine intense and technically complex metal with strong and catchy vocal harmonies. Much to the surprise of some fans, Killswitch then rolled out a deep cut off As Daylight Dies, the stomping and rousing “This Fire.” The tune starts off with one of Adam Dutkiewicz’s best guitar parts before slowing down into a powerful and uplifting chorus that had the majority of the crowd singing along.
Continuing this approach for a while longer, the band alternated between new and old material while being backed by a superb stage setup which featured a dizzying array of lights. It was around this point in the show that they invited the crowd to go nuts and stage dive if they wanted to, which really made things get crazy. Most well-known bands prevent their fans from coming on stage and diving back into the crowd because of security reasons, but Killswitch Engage was determined to put on a show and give the fans what they wanted.
The band concluded their set with three of their most popular songs – “My Last Serenade, ““The End of Heartache,” and “In Due Time.” “The End of Heartache” in particular elicited the biggest audience reaction as everyone in the room was singing along to the lyrics as Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel traded off blistering guitar parts while drummer Justin Foley laid down a pummeling and swinging backbeat. What really became apparent from seeing that song performed was just how much fun the band seems to be having playing these songs. The interplay between music and audience was a magical thing to witness, and it demonstrated just how dearly the fans appreciate them. This was the same for the closing song as well, giving a fitting end to a uniquely special show with three bands performing at their absolute peak powers.
Exodus laid down a hyper-speed set to the delight of everyone in the audience, culling most of their material from one of their most critically acclaimed albums, Tempo of the Damned. The group kicked things off with “Scar Spangled Banner,” a furious track from the aforementioned album that got a huge reaction from the crowd. A mosh pit would last for the majority of their set, only settling down for a few mid-tempo songs the band threw in, with bodies harmoniously crashing into each other at top speed.
The band was no doubt excited to be playing in front of their hometown audience, and it appeared that this fact brought out an even greater musical performance from each of their members. Drummer Tom Hunting in particular sounded amazing throughout, driving the band with his impressive finesse and dexterity. While Exodus only had enough time to play eight songs, they were able to leave a lasting impact because of how tightly performed these songs were played. This became particularly apparent later in their set as they played the legendary title track from Bonded by Blood which seemed to instantaneously drive the crowd insane the moment its opening riff kicked in, all the way until its conclusion.
Singer Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza sounded especially nasty on this tune, adding a level of malice and swagger that gelled really well with Gary Holt’s intense rhythmic guitar playing. The band then closed with what has now become their trademark song to end a set with, “Strike of the Beast.” As if by instinct the audience divided in half as the band started to play, aligning themselves in such a way as to create a “wall of death” when the song came in at full force. As the band launched into the lightning fast verse, the crowd slammed into each other at full speed creating a chaotic scene as the swarming mass of bodies then formed into yet another mosh pit. It was a fitting conclusion to a short but satisfying set from Exodus, one that shows they are still one of the best metal bands to see live.
Metalcore mainstays Unearth opened up the night with a strong performance that showcased their unique blend of melodic yet fierce heavy metal. The band opened up with the powerful song “The Great Dividers,” which gave a perfect representation of what the group is all about musically speaking. The track is built upon the complex interplay between guitarists Ken Susi and Buz McGrath, who alternate intricate harmonies with brutal and pummeling breakdowns. The highlight of the song came in the form of a gorgeous dual guitar harmony over which vocalist Trevor Phipps delivers a supremely harsh vocal line before descending in tempo to a pulverizing breakdown.
Both drummer Jordan Mancino and bassist Chris O’Toole sounded great as they gave the band the kind of backing required for such technically demanding music: handling all of the myriad of tempo changes that are present in Unearth’s songs.
The band tore through a few more tracks before finishing their set with one of their most beloved and well known songs, “My Will Be Done.” The song features some of the band’s most technically demanding guitar playing, opening with a nimble yet impossibly fast guitar line that covers the majority of the instrument’s tonal range before turning into another of the band’s trademark breakdowns. Midway through, Susi and McGrath both contributed to a short yet technical guitar solo, trading off dense hyper-speed licks to the amazement of all those in attendance. The song concluded with a catchy dual guitar harmony before returning to its opening musical progression.
Setlist: My Curse | Strength of the Mind | Beyond the Flames | Alone I Stand | This Fire | Rose of Sharyn | New Awakening | This Is Absolution | A Bid Farewell | Numbered Days | Hate by Design | Always | Until the Day | My Last Serenade | The End of Heartache | In Due Time
Find out more about Killswitch Engage here.
Setlist: Scar Spangled Banner| Blood In, Blood Out| Iconoclasm | War Is My Shepherd | Blacklist | Bonded by Blood | The Toxic Waltz |Strike of the Beast
Get more info on Exodus on this website.
Setlist: The Great Dividers | Watch It Burn | Never Cease | The Swarm | Last Wish | This Lying World | Giles | My Will Be Done
Get all the dirt on Unearth on this website.