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Exodus, Warbringer, Drillpoint & The Unavowed Live In Ottawa

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Friday, April 24, 2009 @ 8:17 PM


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It was a concert that was a first for me in more ways than one. Well, maybe 2 ways.

Thrash Titans Exodus Bring The Atrocity Exhibition To Ottawa With Special Guests/Character Witnesses Warbringer, Drillpoint & The Unavowed At Mavericks, Ottawa, Canada, April 12, 2009

Family Easter dinner commitments honored? Check! Random online tormenting of female Facebook New Kids On The Block fans/friends from high school with YouTube video clips of “Toxic Waltz”? Check! Registration of slight lamentation that both Kreator and Belphegor are absent from this particular part of the Exodus tour before reminding oneself that at least this time around I’m well over the legal drinking age to see Exodus play Ottawa for the first time in 22 years? Check! Some last minute revisions on essentials for the show such as the ticket and valid ID for the all-ages show at Mavericks? Check!

And then there were none on my to-do list.

Starting off the first visit to Ottawa for one of the Bay Area’s most influential bands in over 20 years were a local four-piece punk metal outfit by the name of The Unavowed who at a first listen sound like they were more influenced by the likes of Biohazard than by 80’s thrash metal. But their unlikely pairing with the other bands on this bill didn’t seem to be of any concern to the curious fans who started to grow in feasible numbers by the front of the stage and start a decent pit by the second song titled “Drop The Clutch”. By the time they unleash a solid version of “Harvest The Dead/I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive” and the closing number “Trial” the Unavowed start drawing more comparisons to bands like the Dropkick Murphys and the Mudmen at this point. And even at a show where the mantra of pure fucking thrash metal rings loud and clear the Unavowed seem to have found their audience and fully connected with them that night.

http://www.theunavowed.com
http://www.myspace.com/theunavowed

Back in 2004 when Damageplan’s first and only Ottawa show at the Capital Theater culminated in a KNAC.COM review (http://www.knac.com/article.asp?ArticleID=3096) that immortalized the late Dimebag Darrell almost everyone including his brother Vinnie Paul seemed to agree that it was a piece that best served justice evenly. That is, almost everyone except then-opening local metallers Drillpoint whose performance – their first ever – I’d just about missed completely save for one song that at the time hadn’t totally resonated musically with me at a more complete and thorough listen which led to a pretty harsh overview of the band in the review (although frontman Patrick Fynn’s duet with Pat Lachman that night on Pantera’s “Walk” and “A New Level” was straight up awesome).

Fast forward nearly 5 years later and while the Capital Theater and Damageplan are both gone, so has the Drillpoint of old, replaced by a leaner, meaner, angrier and dominating version of the band that emboldened itself over the same period touring nationwide with bands ranging from Anvil to Hatebreed to Sworn Enemy and others in between. Other than a lethal cover of Sepultura’s “Refuse/Resist” that the band seem to do too awesome a job at, Drillpoint’s set consisted of newer material for their upcoming album such as the hardcore/thrash influenced “Wall Falls Down” and “Between These Broken Bones” which officially saw Drillpoint make the full transition into full-on speed metal in my eyes with the addition of 2 new lightning-fast guitarists (Nick Miller and Jeff Udall) as well as the standard classics such as “Dance Puppet” and the closing number “Destructive By Design”. Barely into the halfway mark of the show and Drillpoint leave the crowd a beaten and sweaty mess of humanity. The difference between the Drillpoint of today and the band that they were 5 years ago is virtually unrecognizable save for Patrick Fynn’s unmistakable dominating vocals. If only Dimebag could see them now…..

http://www.myspace.com/drillpoint
http://www.drillpoint.net

With the CanCon segment of the show done it was time to bring on the Bay Area thrash and its next generation for the continuation of the metal onslaught. Actually, in the case of the self-described combat thrash band Warbringer, the show was well-executed but had to be scaled back somewhat due to an arm injury sustained by drummer Nic Ritter while on tour (which saw the drummer from Epicurean handle drum duties while Nic coached him on the drum parts). The crowd almost got saddled with ear injuries themselves from the band during soundcheck earlier due to a faulty mic but beyond that any other sustainable injuries during Warbringer’s set were from the moshpit from their intensely energetic performance. “Severed From Reality”, “Whirlwind” and “At The Crack Of Doom” pretty much ensured that a great majority of the under-19’s at the show would be passing up some future university football careers due to moshpit injuries. Come the end of the show half of the audience invaded the stage during the band’s final number “Combat Shock” and the band members were too bemused to be overwhelmed by the number of people taking over their stage. It wasn’t like they were in any real danger anyway since frontman John Kevill was even helping some of the fans stage dive off during the show and the band in whole seemed very impressed with the massive turnout and the support of the show enough to consider future visits when on tour.

I was impressed enough with Warbringer in turn to nab myself a copy of their latest disc War Without End which not only harkens back to the early days of Bay Area thrash but also ventures carefully away from any hint of prepackaged nostalgia to discover its own voice in the process. And on that night Warbringer found another market to build upon for future road trips. It really is total war out there.

http://www.myspace.com/warbringer

With the show date falling on Easter Sunday and the headliners Exodus having alternative views on religion in general I was half expecting a lesson in the true meaning of Easter outside of the usual lesson in violence. And here it was:

“Jesus fucked a rabbit and it turned chocolate. Is that how it goes?” - Rob Dukes

In other notable stage banter, the Ottawa show even topped a show in Bangkok, Thailand the band played a few years ago for being the sweatiest show Exodus has ever played.

But for every bit of on-stage dialogue between Rob Dukes and the audience, Exodus delivered tenfold in their performance in terms of both setlist variety and quality. Delving deep into the proverbial vault for gems that at a first glance would conjure up beliefs of blasphemy to only the longtime fan of the Paul Baloff era Exodus unleashed the vintage fury of thrash classic such as “Bonded By Blood”, “Piranha” and “A Lesson In Violence” upon the hordes of a new generation of fans barely conceived when these songs were written, with Dukes practically channeling Baloff’s spirit and fury in his voice and performance. And while guitarists Gary Holt and Lee Altus may be approaching veteran status they still can encompass a stage fuelled with the energy and ferocity of the fiery adolescents that they were when they helped form the band nearly 30 years ago. Newcomers Jack Gibson and Tom Hunting (well, newcomers especially in comparison to Gary Holt’s seniority status in the band anyway – hell, he is the band, really) provided the solid and dark rhythmic backbone that has fortified Exodus’ brand of unruly thrash metal and the crowd noise was so deafening they had trouble trying to hear themselves half the time. But no signs of struggling to keep up over the sound of the crowd is imminent anywhere. Not that the crowd is bothering to notice since the mélange of Exodus classics and recent material like “Blacklist” and “War Is My Shepherd” is gelling perfectly with them for them to even care.

And if this was not enough, Rob saved his defining moment for the end of the show when he organized a parting of the crowd for the infamous Wall Of Death that you hear about at so many European metal festivals. Then he got everyone to charge at each other in the pit which made “Toxic Waltz” all the more poignant. In fact, the pit almost looked like the video minus the images of Gary Holt’s dolphin shorts.

In closing…..phenomenal performances by all 4 bands, best Easter Sunday ever, we really can hold our own ground with the Thais when it comes to supporting metal in our community and apologies to Sally, Jen and Stephanie on behalf of the thrash metal community for conjuring up horrific images of dolphin shorts.

And special thanks to Patrick Fynn and Blackwidow Promotions for bringing this show to Ottawa.

http://www.myspace.com/exodus
http://www.exodusattack.com
http://www.myspace.com/blackwidowpromotionsottawa
http://www.blackwidowpromotions.net

Song list in some type of particular order:

  • “Bonded By Blood”
  • “Iconoclasm”
  • “Funeral Hymn” (dedicated to the Ottawa Senators and their early exit from the playoffs)
  • “A Lesson In Violence”
  • “Children Of A Worthless God”
  • “….And Then There Were None”
  • “Deathamphetamine”
  • “Blacklist”
  • “Fabulous Disaster”
  • “War Is My Shepherd”
  • “Strike Of The Beast”
  • “Shovel Headed Kill Machine”
A moshpit teaser medley featuring “Rock You Like A Hurricane”, “You’re In Love”, “Live Wire”, “Let There Be Rock” and “Motorbreath” in a bid to get the pit going.

ENCORE – “Toxic Waltz”



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