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DEATH ANGEL's Troupe Excels Despite Lifeless Hollywood Crowd

By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal

My rating:

Related: Picture Gallery |Anaheim review |Death Angel interview | Lazarus A.D. interview | Death Angel setlist | Lazarus A.D. setlist

February 22nd 2011, Key Club, Hollywood CA: After witnessing the carnage at the Chain Reaction in Anaheim two nights back, I was ready for round 2 of my Death Angel experience, and was eager to discover how the change in local openers, venue and crowd alter the dynamic of the show. For Death Angel, this was a return to the Key Club after a period of nearly two years, their last gig here being the support slot for Armored Saint in March 2009. Judging by how their show at the Roxy last year turned out, I was expecting some good ol' thrash violence at the Key Club tonight.

Local Opener 1 (Velosity): The first band to hit the stage was local thrash trio Velosity. They really seem to be heavily influenced by the likes of shred-oriented thrash bands like Megadeth, which was good to see. Besides that, their music has that Kreator-like quality of being able to induce violent mosh pits. Oscar was quite amazing on the guitar and his band mates complimented him excellently well. They appeared to gel together perfectly, and their off-stage friendship was being reflected in their on-stage performance as well. When I saw them last time at the Whisky in December opening for Forbidden, they drew quite a crowd of their own. Strangely enough, that wasn't the case tonight and there was hardly anyone inside the venue while they played their set, save for a handful of their friends. I find it quite upsetting that crowds don't turn up to support the local bands. They are the future of metal, not bands that have already been doing their thing for 25 plus years.

Local Opener 2 (Aftertayst): To be honest, I missed most of their set because my Death Angel interview happened to be scheduled during their set. But from whatever little I got to see of them, they weren't an outright thrash band and had other elements in their music. But I'd reserve judgement until I get to see their entire set.

Bonded By Blood: They absolutely destroyed Chain the other night, but that wasn't quite the case tonight, in fact far from it. But that's just because of the difference in crowds and is by no means an indicator of their performance, which was as good as Sunday night. Mauro interacts really well with the crowd and with guitarists Alex Lee and Juan Juarez on stage. I would say he has a bit of Chuck Billy about him. In terms of their set, I'm still liking songs off of "Feed The Beast" a lot more, but the new material is growing on me rapidly as well. I loved "Mind Pollution", and even tried my best to contribute towards waking up this crowd by going up on stage for a few seconds and singing the chorus lines, but simply to no avail. The crowd was determined to remain dead. Nonetheless, Bonded By Blood put on another excellent show in their bid to carry the LA thrash metal flag around the world.

Lazarus A.D.: Whatever people want to say about their change in musical direction, here's a band that dares to do what they feel like, and fully back themselves doing it, and I'm all for it because the last thing I want is a repetitive band that releases the same album over and over. But despite the vast difference between the music on their first and second album, they blend together really well in the live set, and to me the new songs didn't even feel like new. Guitarist Dan Gapen has risen from doing backing vocals on the debut album to being a prominent vocalist in "Black Rivers Flow", and he pulls it off perfectly in the live shows. As for his band mates, there wasn't a single dull moment either, as their excellent stage presence really shone through the entire set. As I might have said in the previous review, their set was way too short for a direct support act. But may be next time they'll get a longer set and I'll get to see more from their smashing new release, songs like "Black Rivers Flow", "Casting Forward" and "Beneath The Waves Of Hatred".

Death Angel: All of those great openers had finished their sets and the stage was set for a taste of Bay Area thrash from Death Angel. They came out with exactly the same intensity they showed two nights back, and this being a much bigger stage than the one at Chain, they seemed to be enjoying the extra space, and made full use of it by moving around throughout the set.

It was hard for me to believe that this was the same venue where German thrashers Destruction caused sheer destruction a couple of years back, because tonight it was as dead as a funeral, and it wasn't because there weren't enough number of people in, because there sure were. Despite the fact the venue had no barricade separating the stage from the crowd, there was absolutely no attempt by anyone to crowd surf or stage dive, and the mosh pits were beyond lame. It was pretty sad and frustrating for me to see such a great band giving it their 200% up there on stage and getting literally no response from the crowd. But as a fan myself, all I could do was to give my best response to their greatly enjoyable performance.

I loved the new material when I heard it live for the first time two nights back, and it grew on me even further during this gig. Each and every one of the "Relentless Retribution" songs they played were sounding terrific, and I would actually like to see them do even more tunes from the album. They came across as masters at the art of putting together a set list, as they switched brilliantly between the new and old songs. As for the cover song they played in entirety, I saw this tour more than once, and tonight was the worst response this song got, with very few people singing the words. Nonetheless, Mark seemed to put his entire heart and soul into the rendition of that song, and it was amazing to see him pull it off so well. If only he had done vocals on the other cover tune they played partially, I would have completely lost my mind right there and then.

Because of the somber nature of this crowd, tonight was definitely a test of sorts for these bands, and not only did they put on a thoroughly brilliant performance, they came across as consummate professionals while they were at it.

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