Kreator & Exodus @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (4/8/2009)

If there was ever a show that was going to pack a punch then it was going to be this one as it found two legendary Thrashers in action on the same stage. Yep, Kreator was back in NYC after far too long, and they brought the one and only Exodus along for direct support. The event was complimented by Black Metal’s Belphegor, up and coming Thrash legends Warbringer and Epicurean and this would all take place at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square. Although a lengthy event and a lot to cover we were on point with camera and notepad in hand to bring all the action to your home. Scroll on.

Logo - Kreator

Artist: Kreator
Venue: Nokia Theater (New York, NY)
Opener: Epicurean, Warbringer, Belphegor, Exodus
Date: 4/8/2009
Label: SPV Records

While the promise of a killer Metal show normally does the trick for me no matter what is going on in life, I had to say that my day leading up this show found me a bit defeated. I had mentioned at the close of my Destruction review that one of the PiercingMetal camera lenses had rolled back out of the bag unnoticed and while I had hoped it would turn up at the venue the following morning, it would not. The premise of not having a crucial piece of gear and needing to shoot five bands at a big show was pretty much a suck factor but I would have to make do until I could replace it. Despite this, the show last night was a killer way to lead into the fun that was to be had this evening as Germany’s Kreator would take the stage and bring along Exodus, Belphegor, Warbringer and Epicurean as support. Set to happen at the Nokia Theatre Times Square, I had thought that last night’s Destruction show started way early but tonight would find me braving the Metal madness at 6pm based on there being five bands on the roster. As I arrived some of the security folks were telling people that we might not see Belphegor perform because the first band was already set to hit the stage and there was no sign of the Blackened Death Metal masters at all. Epicurean was up first of the five.

Epicurean: My first time ever seeing Epicurean was when Rotting Christ returned to the States and did a short tour that found them also sharing the stage with Mantic Ritual (who actually played over at B.B. King Blues Club just last night with Destruction). When they hit the stage I immediately had to rub my eyes as it looked like there had been a number of lineup changes that I was not aware of. Singer John Laramy was there as was drummer John Densmer, and bassist Pete but the guitar players were entirely different from that night not too long ago. For the show I witnessed back then the band had guitarist Brian Koenig who works primarily with Luna Mortis helping them out, and another dude named Jared but neither of them were here tonight. I did not catch the new guitar player names as they said them too quickly, but the band sounded great as they delivered tunes like “Lithograph” to the small crowd who had gotten into place early to get a good spot. As the band finished I was told by a friend that Belphegor had not yet arrived and since they were big fans of the group, they were getting very nervous about this. Warbringer was up next.

Warbringer: It was only a couple of months ago that I last caught Warbringer, and I have to say that this is a band that is managing to secure some really good bills for themselves. This show was a little more in line for their sound than the Soilwork show that I saw them on was, but to be honest I was feeling a little tired of what they do and was in need of a break from them. Now I knew why some Metal fans had grown tired of seeing Into Eternity on numerous bills because in truth there are plenty of groups to choose from as opposed to finding the same ones performing again and again. Despite my own reservations, the band was on fire for the crowd tonight and there were (to my visual at least) a whole lot of people enjoying what they did. Tonight the bands drummer would not be performing as he had been injured and was wearing a sling on his arm while on the drums in his place was Epicurean’s John Densmer. Warbringer’s Ritter sat off to the drummer’s side and guided him through the tunes and all seemed to be working out well for them. Lead singer John Kevill was his usual animated self and when he spoke to the crowd told them that there was no way that they would miss the chance to tour with Exodus and Kreator. The band has a new recording for the fans called “Waking Into Nightmares” and it follows the sound they first offered us on their “War Without End” CD. I felt that a good portion of it sounded similar to the earlier stuff they had given us and while that shows some consistency I really would like to see them brave a little farther outside of their comfort zone to keep it interesting. The band does get the circle pits going very early on in their set and that is fun to watch or take part in if that is your thing. The full set included these numbers: “Total War”, “Severed Reality”, “Living In A Whirlwind”, “At The Crack Of Doom”, & “Combat Shock”. As they finished some fans rushed up to me to let me know that Belphegor had finally arrived but the question would be would they be permitted to play with no real time for the house to prepare the stage for them. We would know in a moment that’s for sure.

Belphegor: The guys in Belphegor crushed and destroyed NYC when Amon Amarth had last come to town back in November so it was great to find them being a part of this touring package even though it was edge of your seat situation with them arriving only moments before they were supposed to play. Lucky for all their fans in the venue they were allowed to play and would get right down to business after a sound check that consisted of Helmuth saying “F**k” three times in different guttural tones. With time not on their side the guys got to the business of onslaught and drove their Black Metal point down the throats of the audience with a very similar set to the one delivered with Amon Amarth a few months ago. Their continuing to support their latest Nuclear Blast Records release “Bondage Goat Zombie” which is a powerful release and shows that this is a band that refuses to compromise their own blasphemous integrity for anyone. The set featured “The Goatchrist”, “Seyn Todt In Schwartz”, “Belphegor: Hell’s Ambassador”, “Stigma Diabolicum”, “Luciferus Incestus”, “Justine Soaked In Blood”, and “Bondage Goat Zombie”. As they performed for us all some of the folks watching found it fascinating that the band sported either upside down crosses or goat heads of some kind while the drums themselves had a giant goat skull on top of it. I guess they were wondering where the band shops for such things, and I would venture to guess that perhaps there is a “Hell Topic” in their homeland that lets them bring their musical message of misery to a much more diabolical visual. Now the venue was packed and it was time for Exodus to take the stage.

Exodus: When it comes to big names of the Thrash Metal genre this is one of the killers of the craft. From the minute that Exodus took the stage, there was a frenzied circle pit that spanned the length of the general area of the floor and some tiny offshoots on its outer perimeter. If you are one of those lurkers in the sidelines like myself you would agree that those little pits need to keep it to the main region and add to the fray properly. Given I am often sporting gear and stuff to write notes on during the set, I don’t get involved in the melee and instead watch for the falling bodies who make their way over to where I am. The bands sole original members are guitarist Gary Holt and drummer Tom Hunting and they are accompanied by long time bassist Jack Gibson. Lee Altus is not too new to the roster and then there is Rob Dukes on vocals and what can be said about this absolutely insane Metal personality that does him justice. Talk about having a commanding presence on the stage, and there is a photo of Rob Dukes. He prowls the stage like a panther that is seeking to break free of his confinement and yells and screams so much into the microphone that you fear standing too close to him in the event that his head explodes and leaves you with quite a mess. He is also very good at what he does for Exodus and they are to be commended for picking him to handle the vocal chores in the group. Having two albums under his belt with the band they continue to support “The Atrocity Exhibition…Exhibit A” and the bands effort before it “Shovel Headed Kill Machine” but despite having two new albums of material to promote and keep the fan interest in they made sure to dish out a wonderful dose of the bands classic tunes. They would open with “Bonded By Blood” and to say that the room was a blur of motion would be an understatement. I had to admit that while I love what is being done on “TAE” I cannot see myself dealing well with omissions of the classics and was glad that the band pulled out “Piranha” and the ever popular “Toxic Waltz”. It might have been fun to see them deliver their rendition of “Low Rider” but it would not take place tonight. Other highlights included “Children Of A Worthless God” which at the last show Dukes dedicated to the 9-11 terrorists if memory serves me correctly. Musically they were on point and Holt’s guitar work was exceptional. He is really one of the great ones in terms of the dudes who the Thrash Metal genre has given us and I hope he keeps the Metal flowing with Exodus for a long time coming. Now it was time for the leader of the hordes of chaos to take the stage as the Kreator set was going to begin any moment.

Kreator: It’s been awhile since we have had Kreator in town and judging by the attendance this evening the Metal legions have missed them dearly or perhaps it is best to refer to this crowd by their proper name which is the “hordes of chaos”, named after the new smoldering effort by Kreator courtesy of SPV Records. I caught the band the last couple of times that they were in town when they played over at the neighboring B.B> King’s and had to say that I was amazed that they place still stood after this bands crowd had finished their activities. The floor was now indistinguishable as a place of firm footing and instead looked like violent waves when glanced down upon from above. Though I love the King’s venue, I had to say that it was impressive to watch Kreator do their thing on a large stage like that of the Nokia Theatre. The band plays so many huge festivals over in Europe and is more accustomed to that anyways and as result where able to really give the audience their all. As I mentioned the new CD is entitled “Hordes Of Chaos” and it is a really powerful album that works well with the previous recording “Enemy Of God” and most importantly flows well within the context of the bands legacy material that is held in high regard by their fans. Singer/guitarist Mille Petrozza glared at the audience intensely and unlike Dukes before him with Exodus would pretty remain in the same spot during his bands set. Like a military commander he dished out the orders to the fans that were airborne for almost every second of the show at this point. I watched from safer quarters as the security guys between the barrier literally caught head banger after head banger and at one point asked the crowd if they followed religion before ego. He also lined out an interesting story about an interaction he had with a journalist who had asked him during an interview if he really meant it when he told the people in the mosh pit to kill each other. He seemed amused that this would have actually been asked of him and informed us that we should not take the song literally. Hoping the journalist also realized this and went home knowing that it is all a part of the act.

I would have to say that by the end of the night I was spent and while I did enjoy what the first three bands did, felt that this show would have been supreme had those three been sacrificed to include a band like Overkill instead. Talk about a trilogy of Thrash Metal Terror. Oh well, one can always dream right? The venue was packed insofar as the available amount of sold spaces was filled but the mezzanine seating area was locked off for some odd reason. My guess was that they wanted to keep the fray confined to the general floor area, but for those older fans or even the ones monitoring their younger siblings who needed to sit down, I felt this was a very bad move on the venues part. It also prevented a lot of “walk in” traffic from those who decided at the last minute to come in and check out the show. In the end this was still one of the better nights of Metal that I had been a part of and for the beginning of 2009’s second quarter of concert offerings was proving to be off to a great start. There were some killer shows set to happen by the end of the week but I think that my own adventuring would continue when Hard Rock legends Y&T returned to us later in the month.

Exodus Set list:
1. Bonded By Blood
2. Iconoclasm
3. A Lesson In Violence
4. Children Of A Worthless God
5. Piranha
6. Deathamphetamine
7. Blacklist
8. War Is My Shepherd
9. Toxic Waltz
10. Strike Of The Beast

Kreator Set list:
1. Hordes Of Chaos
2. Warcurse
3. Extreme Aggression
4. Phobia
5. Voices of the Dead
6. Enemy Of God
7. Destroy What Destroys You
8. Pleasure To Kill
9. People Of The Lie
10. Coma Of Souls
11. Violent Revolution
12. Betrayer
13. Amok Run
14. Riot Of Violence
15. Flag Of Hate/Tormentor

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