By Andrew Bansal
June 11th 2017, The Regent, Los Angeles CA: German thrash veterans Destruction returned to North America this May-June for a headline tour in support of their 2016 album ‘Under Attack’, along with opening acts Warbringer, Jungle Rot and Hellbender. The final show of this tour was in Los Angeles last night, but instead of the famous club on the Sunset Strip where Destruction invariably played for the past several years, this one was at the Regent downtown, and beyond providing a much-needed change of venue for people who may have become far too used to seeing the band at the same club over and over, it made sense to host Destruction at a larger-capacity LA venue, because their shows on the Strip were always hugely oversold. Destruction’s fan-following in the Los Angeles area is absolutely unquestionable, and far bigger than any other city in the US, and on this Sunday night, the band’s diehard fans packed the Regent in anticipation of a good old-fashioned thrashing.
Before the touring bands took the stage, local thrashers Scrapmetal opened proceedings at 6:40 with a 30-minute set that received a genuinely positive response from an already packed Regent gathering. These guys have been around for a while and have toiled hard in the underground scene, performing on any stage that would let them, but this may have been the biggest stage and venue they’ve played in till date, and based on the quality of their performance, no one can doubt that they deserved it.
Northern California group Hellbender had been on the latter half of the Destruction tour as an additional opening act, and they warmed the crowd up for the three main acts to follow, with their brand of groove-laden heaviness. They served as a good opening act, playing solid tunes and interacting well with the audience. They ended their set with an entertaining cover of Mötley Crüe’s ‘Live Wire’ and garnered a generous round of applause.
Originating in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1992, Jungle Rot are veterans in their own right and have established a praiseworthy, prolific career for themselves over the past 25 years. It would not be an exaggeration to state that their unrelenting death metal completely crushed the Regent stage and knocked the audience flat on their faces with its sheer power and intensity. Jungle Rot played a monstrous 40-minute set filled to the brim with earth-shattering tunes, and the crowd loved every moment of it. Their bass player had to fly home early but Warbringer guitarist Chase Becker filled in to play bass in Jungle Rot for this show, and everyone who enjoyed their set can be grateful that this arrangement worked out for Jungle Rot, because had they not been part of this show, it would have been a massive loss to this lineup. This band perhaps does not get the recognition it deserves, because this set proved beyond any doubt that Jungle Rot is one of the fiercest death metal bands going around. Los Angeles could do with more Jungle Rot shows.
At 9:20, following the pump-up pre-intro of Motörhead’s ‘We Are the Road Crew’ blasting loud and proud on the P.A., hometown heroes Warbringer entered the stage and wasted no time in conquering the Regent, but what’s refreshing and commendable is that they did so on the strength of their brand new material, not the well-known staples. They played as many as five tracks off of the March 2017 full-length release ‘Woe to the Vanquished’, and these songs have definitely added a spark to their live show that makes them stand out far and above the rest of the pack. Thrash bands often find their comfort zone, as do their fans, and it can quickly lead to stale albums and even more stale live shows. Thankfully, Warbringer is not one of those bands, and the new material is their most varied till date, as nearly all of these songs take unexpected turns and shifts that leave you positively flabbergasted, specially in the live setting where the variety is all the more evident and in-your-face. One would not blame this band to want to play the entirety of this album in the immediate future, and vocalist John Kevill announced the band’s plan to do so to on the next tour, while talking to the crowd for a brief moment before resuming to scream his lungs out and clutch at invisible objects. It’s like this is the album the band was always capable of writing and was building up to all these years.
But when Warbringer did move to the older material in this set, they brought back a song they hadn’t played in quite a few years, ‘Shattered Like Glass’, before closing the set with fan-favorites ‘Living in a Whirlwind’ and ‘Total War’. Warbringer truly took themselves to a whole new level with this performance, and the audience reciprocated in full. Warbringer was the best band of this show by quite a huge margin, and was quite simply unmatchable.
Warbringer set list:
2. Woe to the Vanquished
3. Remain Violent
5. Descending Blade
6. Shattered Like Glass
7. Living in a Whirlwind
8. Total War
Lastly, headliners Destruction took the stage at 10:30 for their signature style of Teutonic thrash which people have associated them with for so long now, opening with the title track of the newest album and then diving straight into a set filled with classics. Anyone who’s familiar with Destruction knows what to expect from the band, and there are no surprises. Many in the audience were here from the first band to the end, but some entered the building only for the headliner, and they certainly got what they paid for, an old-school Destruction set.
The set list itself may have been predictable, but the most notable difference between this show and Destruction’s past LA appearances was the fact that the set was all smooth sailing and Regent security did not interfere with the mosh pit at any point. Thrashers were allowed to thrash, and no one was kicked out, unlike that West Hollywood club which would eject someone every five minutes merely for moshing.
In 2017, Destruction isn’t doing anything new or groundbreaking, they sound exactly the same as they did three decades ago, and on this occasion they were outdone by Warbringer in every aspect. But they deserve all the respect for their longevity and unwavering consistency, both in the studio and on stage. When it comes to live old-school thrash bands, Destruction is an institution. They always deliver the goods live and their LA shows are always sold out, and this show at the Regent lived up to both those traits.
All in all, a great evening of extreme music from start to finish.
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Destruction set list:
01. Under Attack
02. Curse the Gods
03. Nailed to the Cross
04. Mad Butcher
06. Life Without Sense
07. Release from Agony
08. Total Desaster
09. Thrash Attack
11. Second to None
12. The Butcher Strikes Back
13. Thrash Till Death
14. Bestial Invasion