Photos and review by Chris Rowella
Toad’s Place is probably the best place to see a metal show in Connecticut. Not too big, not too small, good sound, and (for venues around here) decent drink prices. Most metal tours end up in Hartford’s Webster Theater or skip the Nutmeg State altogether, so I was excited to see a great tour package like this end up at Toad’s.
Unfortunately we arrived late and only caught two songs from Thy Will Be Done. For a newer band they are consummate performers, and I’m proud to say they are from my home state. If Kataklysm had a baby that grew up in the ’90s CT hardcore scene, it would sound a lot like Thy Will Be Done. Their sophomore release, In Ancient of Days, shows a real progression of musical ability; in a live setting, the songs approach a new level of (confidence and) power. After their set, I had an old-man moment hearing one pimply-faced teen say to another: “I appreciated them throwing in some Slayer.” Were you even alive when Lombardo was behind the kit the first time around?
I’m not sure if it’s some kind of metal community service requirement, but apparently Goatwhore have to play about 300 shows a year. That’s not a slight; their blackened Cajun thrash attack has been honed to perfection from a never-ending tour schedule. This might lead to burnout for some bands, but they proved that idea wrong with flawless renditions of “Apocalyptic Havoc,” “Alchemy Of The Black Sun Cult,” and “Blood Guilt Eucharist.” Ben Falgoust was a true metal diplomat, repeatedly thanking and praising the other bands. He didn’t leave the fans out, either, saying, “Even if you don’t like us, thanks for coming anyway.” Some guys looked around as if they were actually seeking out people who didn’t like Goatwhore. No haters in this crowd.
Suffocation are one of those bands where I love what they do so much it’s almost hard to put into words. (See also: Down, Iron Maiden, and High on Fire.) They have never disappointed, live or on disc, and I can’t think of a death metal band I enjoy more. Frank Mullen employed his signature moves, the death metal spirit fingers and blastbeat six-shooter, in just about every song. Terrance Hobbs and Guy Marchais were in lockstep groove on riff workouts like “Thrones of Blood” and “Infecting the Crypts.” Derek Boyer’s squatting upright bass stance still seems like an optical illusion to me. The real star, though, has to be Mike Smith. How any person can make endless blastbeats and ridiculous drum fills look so effortless is beyond belief. I thought my mosh days were long gone, but when Mullen called for a circle pit during “Liege of Inveracity,” I had no choice but to comply.
These sets were going to be hard to follow, no matter what band it was. Full disclosure: I enjoy DevilDriver. They’re a decent groove metal band with some cool songs that are fun to sing along to. Dez Fafara is an engaging frontman, and his band is comprised of some talented guys. New tunes like “Pray For Villains” and “Fate Stepped In” meshed right in with crowd-pleasers “Hold Back the Day,” “End of the Line,” and “Grinfucked.” DevilDriver might not approach the level of Goatwhore or Suffocation, but those bands wouldn’t have played here if Dez hadn’t invited them on the tour. Whether you like his band or not, thanks for coming anyway.