Killthrax Tour Comes to Baltimore’s Rams Head Live – It’s been a little while since I’ve been to an actual metal show. If you’re looking for the definition of metal, the KILLTHRAX II tour will surely give you your answer.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to Rams Head Live in Baltimore in time to catch the entire set of the band HAVOK, but I did get lucky enough to see the last 3 songs. All I really can say about that is, HAVOK is METAL AF! They are brutal. So much so, that at one point, they started screaming the alphabet to the song they were playing. (Or, if that IS the song, then forgive me). They stopped screaming somewhere around the letter “P”, but they continued their heavy riffage as the audience damn near finished screaming the alphabet. When you can have a brutal mosh pit, while everyone is screaming the ABC’s….you’re kinda metal.
The KILLTHRAX tour is the second iteration of a co-headlining tour by one of the thrash metal forefathers, ANTHRAX and a much newer metal band (newer compared to Anthrax) that has found widespread success in the metal world, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. The show I attended had ANTHRAX playing after the opening band, HAVOK.
With ANTHRAX being one of the originals when it comes to thrash metal, it’s no wonder why 80% of the crowd could scream/sing along to almost every song, but one of the clear favorites of the night was “I am the Law”. The gang vocals had the place erupting with passion. I must have had about 10 crowd surfers fall on my head in the photo pit. That’s a metal show. At one point, it went from angry, chanting gang vocals with heavy crowd participation, straight into a circle pit inducing thrashing breakdown, followed by an absolutely face-melting guitar solo by Jonathan Donais. The very next song was another heavy hitter amongst the fans starting with Scott Ian slowly mimicking the cello intro of the song “Be All, End All”. The crowd instantly knew what was happening and began belting out along with Ian’s guitar; “Whoooaa, WhhhOOOoooaaa whhhhhOOooooaaa WhhhhooOOOAAAaa”. Yeah, it may look funny written down, but if you know or look up the song, you’ll know exactly what’s about to happen.
MORE METAL! That song started insanely heavy. You felt that song in your soul, when it started. The breakdown in the middle, where it was just the drum beat and that intro “whoooaa” chant, was just a groove-laden crowd participation moment that I’m sure any fan of ANTHRAX that was at that show, went home talking about. What an amazing show they put on!
The tour date for this show had Massachusetts metalcore giants KILLSWITCH ENGAGE closing out the night. This is a band whom I’ve seen multiple times and each time is just as good, if not better than the last. Following ANTHRAX is absolutely no easy task, especially when the number of people in the crowd had clearly diminished, but KILLSWITCH ENGAGE came out with extremely high energy (as usual) and completely destroyed it. How can you not vigorously bang your head when they lead off with the song “Rose of Sharyn”. Such a heavy, fast, beautifully melodic and intense song! And of course that fits perfectly with guitarist Adam D’s quirky, fun and energetic stage presence. It can be hard to watch everyone else because Adam is SO over the top and goofy/fun, that it’s just fun to watch him. With his typical 80’s short shorts on, and his white, “Trash” sweatband around his head, his performance alone is a sight to see, running around like he was in a marathon.
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE is comprised of an entire band of absolutely sweet guys, who are as professional when it comes to their band as they are fun loving. In 2002, the band went through some changes as singer Jesse Leach made the decision to leave the band for personal reasons. They replaced him with an amazing vocalist by the name of Howard Jones. They continued on with great success, but the year 2012 saw the return of the band’s original singer Jesse Leach. I love Howard Jones, that guy is awesome, but the return of Jesse Leach to KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, just felt right. Leach had taken some much needed time to get his mind and body healthy, then came back like a brand new person. It’s truly wonderful to see the original cast going just as strong as ever, with an even more focused and centered front man. Though the place thinned out a bit after ANTHRAX, that didn’t stop the energy from flowing freely. There were still tons of crowd surfers and almost always circle pits going on. This was an extremely fun show to be at, and if you like any sort of heavy metal, you would have an absolutely fun time at this show.
One of the coolest things about this tour, or at least my tour date, was that the crowd was an absolutely crazy mix of people. If you love people watching, this was certainly a great place to do it! (even though you SHOULD be banging your head to the awesome music being performed, it’s still fun to see the interesting mix of concert goers). I saw little kids from ages about 8 or 9, to folks probably well into their 50’s and beyond! I saw one dude wearing a “Violent Femmes” T-shirt, showing his age. I definitely didn’t expect to see that. Metal can bring so many different people together. That is one of the wonderful side-effects to being a metal head…. when we’re all under the same roof, most of the time, we’re all considered family. From the bands on stage, to the youngest lil’ dude or girl in the audience, we all seem to have a much greater sense of “togetherness” than I experience with ANY other genre of music. I’m so thankful to be a part of this amazing community called “Metal”. The KILLTHRAX II tour is something that should be on every metal head’s calendar. Get in the pit and BANG YOUR HEAD! But most of all, have fun. That’s what these shows seem to be about the most…. hanging a good time. And you WILL have a great time with KILLTHRAX!!
Killswitch Engage Gallery: