A Tuesday evening in Boise is not usually a time for big concert turn outs for club acts passing through town, so it was not much of a surprise that The Shredder was a little thin on patronage last night. However, it was no surprise that the Seattle’s Witchburn, who headlined the event, slayed all in attendance with an inspired and incredible performance. The tragedy of the night was how few Boiseans were there to witness the magic.
Local talent, Trigger Itch, and Ripchain kicked off the evening’s festivities. As the show started before its announced 8pm scheduled time, I missed Trigger Itch. Ripchain fired it up for a tight six-song set of its riff driven thrash and roll, which included songs like “Locust”, “River of Woe” and “Cyber F*@ked”.
Next up, Bellingham, Washington-based trio Wild Throne, threw down a raucous, distortion infused set. Frontman and guitarist Josh Holland was energetic and ferocious on stage, bringing life to the band’s progressive rock edge. Their sound reminds me of Queens of the Stone Age meets Mastodon mixed with various other nuances.
Portland’s Ape Machine hit the stage next with a solid dose of straight forward classic heavy rock. I was immediately struck with the band’s vintage vibe, from the sound right down to the instruments played. Bassist Brian True was rocking an old school Rickenbacker bass, and guitarist Ian Watts was wielding a classic Les Paul sunburst. This offered hope for good music to come, and the band did not disappoint. Drummer Damon De La Paz was crushing behind the kit, and Watts' onstage energy was contagious. Frontman Caleb Heinze performed well too, but he did not express the same enthusiasm during his performance as I would have expected from the things I’d heard about him: Off night with a small crowd perhaps.
Finally, Witchburn took the stage and everyone at The Shredder packed around the little stage. The quartet, comprised of vocalist Jamie Nova, bassist Jacy Peckham, drummer Dana Sims, and guitarist/violinist Mischa Kianne, found their collective groove immediately, and the crowd responded enthusiastically. They opened the set with their current single, “Der Hexenhammer” which is taken from their sophomore album, Bathed in Blood. Newcomers to the band’s sound had to be impressed by Nova’s impassioned rasp and roll vocal attack. Her unique sound and intonation set her apart and bring each song to vivid life. Kianne is an amazingly talent guitarist, and her performance was intense, feral and hyper-focused. The quartet played six songs in all off Bathed in Blood, including “Warning to the Weak”, “One and the Same”, "(Ghosts Walking) Into a Black Sunrise”, “Evolve”, and the melodic groove of “Shuffle Up and Deal”. The rhythmic battery of Peckham and Sims was locked in the pocket, with Peckham swinging his dreads and bringing the low end rumble. Sims kept it lively, sharp and playful behind the kit with a nice swing to his style.
Witchburn tuned up three tracks from their stunning debut release, This is How We Slay Our Demons. They executed “Call to Arms”, “The Hunted” and “Bleed the Stone” to well-practiced perfection. The latter marked the show closer, but not before they slipped in a little cover action with some classic Dio era Rainbow.
Noticeably missing from the set were fan favorites, “Army of Voices” and “Stand Up and Be Counted”, but with only an hour long set and a new album to promote, one cannot complain. In all it was a fantastic performance for one of heavy metal’s best yet most unrecognized bands. Hopefully this will change with the release of Bathed in Blood along with a full slate of summer touring.