The metal week kicked off on Memorial Day with Satyricon and Goatwhore. Days later, metalheads returned to the Gas Monkey Bar n’ Grill for Obituary, Pallbearer, Skeletonwitch, and Dust Bolt. Not unlike Monday, last night was hotter than hell. But, that didn’t keep anyone away from this show. In fact, there were even more people there early than on Monday night and they were rewarded with some killer opening bands.
Holy shit! Dust Bolt kicks ass! I had never seen the German band before and they simply blew me away. Hell, they blew everybody away. Temperatures were close to 100 degrees when the band took the stage at 7:00 pm. Almost instantly drenched in sweat, they would’ve been that way if it were in the mid-80’s with there highly energetic performance. Determined to kick out the jams and get the crowd moving, vocalist/guitarist Lenny B. banged his head, jumped around all over the place, and even got tangled up in his mic stand at one point. All this while singing and nailing his guitar solos. The band was loud, intense, and a shit ton of fun to watch. While the crowd responded well to the band, Lenny had to convince them to get a pit going. Saying he came all the way from Germany and wanted a memory of Dallas, the crowd happily obliged and formed a rapidly swirling pit. Often lumped into the New Wave of Thrash Metal, the band certainly fits the category. But, the intensity they brought to the show sets them apart from most of the underwhelming thrash re-hash that’s out today.
With Dust Bolt being a tough act to follow, I was curious what Skeletonwitch would bring to the evening. Of course, they had a larger allegiance of fans in attendance. Regardless, they brought down a seriously great set that riled up the crowd and solidified their rep among the Dallas metalheads. Guitarist’s Nate Garnette and Scott Hendrick traded riffs, leads, and solos seamlessly while vocalist Adam Clemans stalked the stage and dared the crowd to match his intensity. Everyone in the band was dressed in all black, except Clemans who was wearing white jeans and a white shirt. But, his clothes were dirty. Like he had been working under a car all day. I don’t suggest this was some contrived image, but it gave a certain working-man appearance that I found appealing. The band played songs from their albums Serpents Unleashed, The Apothic Gloom, and Beyond the Permafrost, and previewed a new song from their forthcoming album Devouring Radiant Light (out July 20, 2018). Having been on the road for the entire month, the band was a finely tuned killing machine.
Shortly after the sun had set, Little Rock, Arkansas’ Pallbearer took the stage. Harnessing the power of doom, Pallbearer slugged out song after song to an adoring crowd. Only playing 5 or 6 songs, that are of course twice as long as any song Dust Bolt played, the band was the perfect segue between Skeletonwitch and headliners Obituary. While Brett Campbell (vocals, guitar) and Devin Holt (guitar) serve up huge slabs of metal, Joseph Rowland (bass) and Mark Lierly (drums) anchor the band with their throbbing bass and subtley intricate rhythms. They played a song or two from each of their three albums, but also played their most recent track, “Dropout,” from the Adult Swim Singles Program. While it’s only been out a few weeks, the crowd knew all the words and delighted in its inclusion in the set.
When Obituary took the stage around 10:00 pm, the crowd had been warmed up by both the Texas sun and the excellent bands who preceded them. You wouldn’t fault anyone for being worn out at this point, but quite the opposite, this crowd was ready to rage. As the Pat Travers song “Snortin’ Whiskey” played right before their set, it was the perfect palette cleanser following Pallbearer and getting amped for the Tampa, Florida death metal legends. When the band tore into “Stinkupuss,” from their 1989 debut album, the crowd erupted. A huge pit violently churned, and if you were outside the pit your body was moving in one way or another. The band covered songs from across their discography, including songs from Slowly We Rot, Back from the Dead, Cause of Death, and Inked in Blood. While the classic tracks from their early albums got a rise out of the crowd, the four songs they played from 2017’s self-titled album were greeted with equal enthusiasm. Core members, John Tardy (vocals), Donald Tardy (drums), and Trevor Peres (guitar) were in fine form and performed with the same level of energy and enthusiasm as when they first debuted. But, the newer guys Terry Butler (bass) and Kenny Andrews (guitar) brought plenty to the table in their own right. Collectively, the band sounded as great as ever and fed off the crowds energy throughout the show.
This is an excellent touring lineup. While anything more than four bands can be tiring, and four bands can sometimes be tedious, this package works on every level. It’s a diverse collection of bands that has something to offer everyone. Whether its thrash, doom, death, or whatever form of extreme metal you like, you can’t go wrong with this tour. Unfortunately, the tour wraps up this weekend. If you missed it, you should hate yourself.
– J. Kevin Lynch (words); DeLisa McMurray (photos)