Review by Andrew Bansal, live photos by Chris Loomis
October 6th 2015, The Regent, Los Angeles CA: It is extremely rare for two metal bands from New Jersey, completely unlike each other in every aspect, to be co-headlining a North American tour together, but thrash veterans Overkill and progpower champions Symphony X are currently doing just that on a four-week run that began on September 18 in Worcester MA. The tour arrived in downtown Los Angeles to play in front of a packed house at the Regent Theater last Tuesday October 6th 2015. Even though at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of musical style, imagery and personalities, two things Symphony X and Overkill share in common is an arsenal of compelling recent releases, and a reputation for memorable live performances. Los Angeles was more than ready to witness a truly unique combination of two of the most underrated bands in heavy music.
Despite some confusion arising from the placement of Overkill at the top of the Regent’s marquee, they played before Symphony X at this show and started their set at 8:15, coming out in a typical all-guns-blazing manner. Overkill presented a 13-song assortment of tunes from their three recent albums ‘White Devil Armory’ (2014), ‘The Electric Age’ (2012) and ‘Ironbound’ (2010), along with some classic fan favorites as well as deep cuts from their 17-album, 35-year career which is still going as strong as ever. More than anything, the reason for the longevity and sustainability of Overkill is the members’ individual and collective inner fire that fuels them to write powerful new music and annihilate stages worldwide as a live band, a fire that’s missing from most of their contemporaries as well as younger generations of thrash bands.
Besides crowd singalongs ‘Hello From The Gutter’, ‘Rotten To The Core’, ‘Elimination’ and the apt set-closer ‘Fuck You’, songs like ‘Electric Rattlesnake’, ‘Bring Me The Night’ and ‘Ironbound’ were some of the strongest items in the set. And then there was the visual treat of ‘Skullkrusher’, featuring guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer and bassist D.D. Verni playing double-neck instruments. Ron Lipnicki’s efforts behind the kit filled the room with a delightfully crisp drum sound, and fronting his band mates with unmatchable vocal delivery and a distinct sense of humor, Bobby Blitz was at the peak of his powers. The lighting patterns and heavy usage of strobes enhanced this Overkill performance even further, and passages showing Blitz lit up in red with the rest of the stage in green were visual highlights of the set. Overkill put forth a highly enjoyable show for this capacity crowd, an every single attendee is already forward to their next tour and album.
03. Electric Rattlesnake
04. Rotten To The Core
05. Bring Me The Night
06. End Of The Line
07. Hello From The Gutter
08. Bitter Pill
11. Playing With Spiders / Skullkrusher
13. Fuck You
At 10:15, Symphony X took the stage and opened their set with a string of selections from their 2015 Nuclear Blast Records release ‘Underworld’, an album they seem extremely proud of and rightly so, because it captures the variety and dynamism of Symphony X’s progressive power metal as well as any of their recent efforts. Donning sunglasses for a majority this segment of the set, singer Russell Allen also switched to a series of masks through the set. Los Angeles’ prog community had turned up in huge numbers to support Symphony X here and they loved every moment of it as evident from the deafening roars at the end of every song.
Guitarist Michael Romeo was in his element, effortlessly shredding the stage to bits but doing it in a manner far more tasteful than most other ‘shred’ guitarists. As rightly pointed out by Russell Allen in his introduction of his band mates, Romeo is criminally underappreciated and not talked about nearly as much as he should be. He deserves to grace cover stories in mainstream guitar magazines much more than most that get that honor on an overly regular basis, but undeterred from that, here he was, applying his stroke of genius to decorate this wonderful Symphony X soundscape. Russell Allen was just as awe-inspiring with his Dio-esque vocal delivery, while bassist Michael Lepond, keyboardist Michael Pinnella and drummer Jason Rullo combined with the two protagonists to orchestrate an exemplary exhibition of all things great about the progpower variant of heavy music.
It was fitting for the thrashier, more in-your-face Overkill to play first, and for the more progressive, melodic, technical Symphony X to play after them, and even though it was far from obvious whether or not fans of one band were able to appreciate the other, it was an intriguing package for folks that were already fans of both bands and musical styles. The on-stage exploits of Overkill and Symphony X certainly deemed this show worth the money for the paying audience depiste the steep $42 day-of-show ticket price. And aside from the security personnel’s ridiculous attempts to snuff mosh pits during Overkill’s set, the Regent made for an ideal setting with its sufficiently spacious standing room, adequate air-conditioning (not always a given), state-of-the-art sound system, and the freedom granted to attendees to exit and re-enter the venue.
Overall, a flawless performance by both Overkill and Symphony X for what was one of the most unique touring packages to have come through town in recent times.
03. Without You
04. Kiss Of Fire
06. To Hell And Back
07. Of Sins And Shadows
08. Serpent’s Kiss
09. Eve Of Seduction
10. Set The World On Fire (The Lie of Lies)
Remaining Tour Dates:
10/07 – Marquee Theatre – Tempe, AZ *
10/09 – Alamo City Music Hall – San Antonio, TX *
10/10 – The Bomb Factory – Dallas, TX *
10/11 – Warehouse Live – Houston, TX *
10/13 – The Ritz – Tampa, FL *
10/14 – The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA **
10/15 – The Filmore – Charlotte, NC **
10/16 – The Filmore – Silver Spring, MD *
10/17 – Terminal 5 – New York City, NY *
* Overkill closes
** Symphony X closes