It's a weekday night and most people have work in the morning, but masses of metal lovers shrug off the idea of next morning hangover hell in order to see three bands that define the metal genre grace the stage. The Palladium in Worcester is packed with fans of all ages for the Share the Welt tour and there is a certain lingering herbal-sweet smell in the air.
The stage is set, the lights dim, the buzz ramps up and Hatebreed roars onto the stage in their typical "let's get right to it" fashion. They break into To the Threshold, immediately launching fans into a mosh pit and sending fans swimming over the shoulders of others to get closer to the screaming Jasta. The stage level strobes are ridiculously bright, blinding the first row and the unfortunate photographers (like myself) who trip over each other and the cords on the floor. As Diehard as They Come is appropriately dedicated to the American soldiers as Ivan Moody cameos while waving a giant American flag as he runs back and forth across the stage. The audience responds with cheers as their hands fly in the air, some with horns and some with salutes, as they honor those who make the commitment to sacrifice themselves for our freedom.
Next on the agenda are local favorites All that Remains. The energy continued on as they combined their signature clean and harmonized vocal with brutal screams ripping through the sweaty steam permeating the air. I give a stumbling curtsey to Jeanne Sagan because any touring heavy metal band featuring a chick bassist who's worth her salt makes me smile inside. Giving us a set-list made up of songs mostly from their latest album For We are Many, but falling back on some loved favorites, like This Calling, the audience knew every word and sang along. Phil was right on target with his vocal, Oli's cyclone of hair whirled around his guitar and the rhythm just tied it all together perfectly. Above everything else was that it was undeniably apparent how much these guys (and girl) love playing their hometown.
There is about a half an hour intermission as Five Finger Death Punch has their stage set up. When the lights dim down, there is an enormous response from the fans. There is no doubt that although the audience loved the first two bands, that this was who they came to see. The wait impatiently for the lights to come on and in an intense flash of blinding white light that could signal a ship on a foggy night, they get what they asked for. An elaborate set up including impossibly shiny Ford truck grills, an apparent explosion of chrome and overpowering headlights shone out towards the fans. In the backdrop, a huge LED video screen. My focus however was drawn to the front to what looks like a skeleton dipped into metal gleaming at center stage with trademark brass knuckles fitting into its crown which is actually a chrome hand holding a revolver which in turn holds the mic. Completely grandiose and over the top. Completely perfect.
Ivan doesn't only take the stage, he inhabits it. There is no doubt that there is no other place in the world that he belongs in quite as much as under the spotlight performing for a sea of horns. Exploding into Under & Over It, a song off their new album American Capitalist, there begins what I can only describe as one of the tightest sets I have ever heard played at any live concert. If I wasn't six inches from Moody's face as he sang over me, I might even accuse them of playing a studio track. It was absolutely flawless. Every musician walking the proverbial high wire was in perfect balance with one another. I was especially impressed with Chris Kael, 5FDP's newest addition on bass, mostly because you would never imagine he hasn't been with the band since it's inception. It was cohesive and natural. Whereas in my experience I have noted that it is usually the bassist that seems to have a lesser energy level on stage, Chris proved to me that it is not always the case. Additionally, the guitar riffs and solos of Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook were seamless as they seemed to feed off each others talents and then offer us up a serving of pure badass on a silver platter. The solos were fast and furious and could knock whatever wind might be left out of you after running around a circle pit.
They say they'll play a cover song, going into the intros to Ozzy and Pantera songs, but then cutting them short and laughing it off as they tease the fans with the idea. Just when I think it can't get any better, the guys pay homage to their time performing for the soldiers in Iraq, with home videos on the screen of their experiences as they settle on the cover of Bad Company. You could almost feel the heat of the desert and the heartbeat of the military helicopters as soldiers got ready to take off on their next assignment. It has to be the first time I have ever gone to a heavy show and had a tear take a place at the corner of my eye. It may sound ironic to some to describe heavy metal as beautiful, but that is exactly what it was.