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Killfest Review @ The Trocadero 4-20-2012

22 April 2012 No Comment

Photos and Written by: James Kelly

“It’s just a facade”, God Forbid vocalist Byron Davis told me in a brief encounter after their set. I was walking up to the merch counter in search of a God Forbid tee shirt to make my own as I seen him resting to the side, with a towel over his head, worn out and tired like any other hard working human being after a strenuous day on the job. Waiting until a couple of others moved on, I approached him and told him how great I thought the set was and how nervous I was about even approaching him the in the first place. That’s when he proclaimed that the rock star image is “just a facade” and that he and the rest of his band are just normal people like the rest of us. I took a quick picture with him, again told him how much I enjoyed the band’s set and thanked him for dedicating an ounce of time to just another surprised and starstruck fan.

Killfest 2012 - God Forbid @ The Trocadero 4-20-2012

I suppose I should have known that Davis and the rest of God Forbid are just normal folk. Sure, the band makes music that is heard by the masses, but it has always seemed that God Forbid is a down-to-earth group of musicians that shares a perpetual goal of making kickass music to be delivered to the fans without any sort of self-importance or cancerous ego – a characteristic which seemed to ring true about all of the bands that played the Troc on Friday night. However, while taking in a performance of a band of this caliber, it is easy to get lost in an inevitable haze of stupefying head-banging fist-pumping metal awesomeness. Such was the case on Friday April 20th at the Trocadero Theater in Philadelphia when God Forbid (and four other bands) supported legendary thrash band Overkill on the first date of the Killfest 2012 tour.

I have never been a diehard God Forbid fan but I have always appreciated their ability to blend smart and melodic metal with classic skull-crushing metal. As I expected, they did not disappoint. As soon as vocalist Byron Davis set foot on stage, the crowd erupted in frenzy – a fire constantly stoked by Davis’ focus on the fans, which was a trend that ran throughout the rest of the band. More than all of the other bands, God Forbid made their set feel like an interactive and communicative experience between the fans and the band which made fists easier to raise and heads easier to bang. God Forbid has the ability to play metal that truly beats along with your heart and through your veins which is a perfect characteristic for a band to have when playing live. The band combined new songs off of their latest album “Equilibrium” with some older stuff in a set which was obviously and disappointingly cut short.

Killfest 2012 - Overkill @ The Trocadero 4-20-2012

Killfest was kicked off by The Last Remark, a local thrash band out of Philly. They claim to have “the intensity of Metallica and the flash of Aerosmith”. I guess this is certainly the case since they ripped through their own version of one of Metallica’s “threadiest” classics “Whiplash” and the fact that bassist Ray Figueroa rocked a dapper pair of what seemed to be spandex pants. The Last Remark is indeed a blend of face-melting speed metal and dash of flash and attitude in the vein of Mötley Crüe.

Killfest 2012 - Overkill @ The Trocadero 4-20-2012

Following The Last Remark was Givethemrope, another local band out of the Philadelphia area. Givethemrope, to put it simply, is an intense band. Not just metal concert intense, but also “Get out of my way or I’ll kick you in the throat” intense. Vocalist Rich Brooks had, at times, a frightening stage presence. He wasn’t rocking corpse paint, tearing bibles, or spitting blood, he was simply yelling into the souls of every spectator before him all the while cracking beers in between songs. Givethemrope reminded me a lot of metal giants Lamb of God, not necessarily in musical prowess but more so in the band’s collective behavior up on stage. They weren’t posturing or posing, they played their harsh groove-metal set with every ounce of energy they could muster with an in-your-face hardcore edge.

Next was Diamond Plate, a Chicago thrash band that made a 15 hour drive to Philly for the show. The drive was worth it. Diamond Plate was perhaps the most exciting band on the bill – not because they were that much better than any of the other bands, but it seemed that they had “it”, and in no time they could be one of the most popular young metal bands in the world. Of course, that’s only one person’s opinion, but their set was enough to convince me that Diamond Plate could easily be a big name band. They were fun, young, and energetic and were cranking out the sweet sounds of pure breakdown-free thrash metal. Diamond Plate was followed by SuidAkrA, a veteran melodic folk Celtic death metal band out of Germany. SuidAkrA has been putting out music for the better part of twenty years which comes as a surprise to me. They, continuing the trend of Killfest in fine fashion, played another fantastic and engaging set. Well, at least fantastic and engaging enough for this metal Viking.

Last, but certainly not least, was Overkill, the “forgotten thrash band” if you will. For whatever reason, Overkill never seems to be placed upon the same pedestal as the usual suspects of early thrash metal. Although not in the Bay Area, they were of course one of the original big thrash bands to emerge in the early 80’s. However, I’m not sure this ignored reputation is at all deserved. Overkill emerged after God Forbid’s set with the youthful vigor of a band just starting out. These guys are in their fifties. I can only imagine what their shows were like in their twenties. Comparing them to what I’ve seen recently from Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth, Overkill’s performance seemed honest, inspired, and not at all dull or boring. In fact, their set was one of the most fun sets I’ve ever seen in no small part due to Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s maniac front-man persona which held the attention of anyone focusing their sight anywhere near the stage. Not as though Overkill needed it, but the light presentation during their set was also quite awesome. It was fast, hyperactive, and added an extra bit of excellence to a most excellent set.

The Killfest 2012 tour is shaping up to be one of the best and most underrated tours of the spring, based solely on a sick first show. From top to bottom, it was one of the most enjoyable concerts I have ever experienced and each band seemed to build the momentum more and more until Overkill kicked ultimate ass and iced the proverbial cake. From the smaller bands on the bill – just starting out, to main draws God Forbid and Overkill, each band is worth seeing live or at least giving a listen to. The whole “rock star image” may be a facade, but the abilities of each band on this bill are not. Go, bang your head, and see for yourself. The tour continues across the United States throughout April and May.

Victory Records
Overkill official site
God Forbid Official

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