Overkill, God Forbid, Suidakra @ The Complex 04.28

Posted May 1, 2012 in

Suidakra. Photo: Megan Kennedy
Saturday night, The Complex hosted the devilishly fun “Electric Age Tour” featuring Diamond Plate, Suidakra, God Forbid and the legendary Overkill, who are somehow still fucking touring after ten thousand years in the music business. I’ve seen Overkill once, but at Gigantour, at which I was seated far, far away from the stage, so I really didn’t get a full experience. One thing I did learn from that show is that they have some of the best, most loyal and craziest fans in metal, and this tour was no exception. Three out of every four people were wearing some sort of Overkill merch, from shirts to hats to patches on their frayed denim vests. Fans like this make for a fun goddamn show, and I was finally close enough to get the full force of Overkill’s performance. In general, this show was a ton more upbeat, happy and “community” feeling than most other shows I’ve been to this year. Maybe it’s the style of music, or maybe it was the demeanor of every band up there with their big grins and crowd participation; maybe I’ve just been neglecting my chanting quota at home; whatever the cause, I felt great for hours after.

When I arrived, Suidakra was just setting up to play. I wasn’t familiar at all with these dudes, but obviously their accents quickly gave away their German origin. They started playing and the crowd immediately responded to their melodic, heavy and indescribably upbeat style of death metal. The songs were punctuated with lots of chanting, clapping and fists in the air, which the band would start and the audience was all too happy to return. Without being able to pick out any lyrics, you still got the distinct sense of a pagan/Celtic/folk legend influence to their music, which I personally found super enjoyable and a welcome, refreshing change. Some of the chants definitely had a war-cry feel to them, making you feel just a little like you were in Braveheart (and depending on the pit, maybe you were!). The band was very active during their set, interacting with the crowd and jumping down on the floor amps to get closer to the front row, and seemed to be enjoying the hell out of their time on stage. They finished at least one fan stronger. Come to find out when I get home that these guys have had a career in Europe spanning fourteen years. Looks like I’ve got a delicious catalogue to explore! These dudes were awesome enough to spend the time after their set signing stuff and meeting fans at their merch table, which is always classy as fuck in my book.

Next up: God Forbid, a band with its own impressive tenure, and one that hasn’t been to our fair city in many years. In fact, it’d been a rough-and-tumble few years for fans everywhere, after the departure of Dallas Coyle in ’09, and waiting almost two full years for new album “Equilibrium” to be released. I always find it interesting to see how bands weather the storm, and how they face returning to the stage. God Forbid did not disappoint. They were just as excited to be on stage as the rest of us were to see them. And holy shit"you never get the full scope of just how big a dude Byron Davis is until you see him on stage, whipping those dreads around and screaming like a beast into that mic! The band covered a wide range of their catalogue, pulling from such classic albums as Gone Forever, IV: Constitution of Treason, Earthsblood and their newest release, Equilibrium. As a fan, I was stoked to hear them play the title track from Gone Forever, and it was so awesome that they delved that far back in their catalogue. Seeing ex-Himsa guitarist Matt Wicklund up close and personal again was a huge treat--dude is a fucking beast on the axe. They kept the in-between song chatter to a minimum, aside from some very lovely moments from Byron about how grateful they are to be back on stage and here in Salt Lake City"and truly, judging by the beaming smile on these dudes’ faces, that was no lie. After their set, Byron even came down into the big open snack area to meet fans and sign autographs, where he quickly turned from a metal-beast to more of a big ol’ happy, sweaty teddy bear.

Finally, the celebrated Overkill was ready to hit the stage. While lighting at The Complex is always top-tier, only God Forbid had any extra stage décor, represented in a big banner that was more or less blocked by the stacks on both sides of the stage. But Overkill? These dudes do not tread softly into the night. Backed by their own giant banner featuring the one and only skull-and-wings mascot Chaly (and I will never understand how Avenged Sevenfold didn’t get sued for their own ripoff version), with their drummer on a high-rise in the center, surrounded by the stacks, they came out to some incredibly demonic lighting and a stage filled with smoke and fog that pumped continuously throughout their set. I fucking love the old-school stage shows! The fog started pumping, the lights dropped, and the crowd lost their shit and began chanting the band name until one of two original members, bassist DD Verni, as well as their guitarists ran on stage. I think I saw somewhere through the fog the drummer arrive at his kit. The music to opening track “Come and Get It” began to blast, and right before his vocal lines kicked in, out sprinted Blitz Ellsworth (or Bobby, to his mother), the skinny, crazy-haired, charismatic lead man, the only other original member of this thrash setup. Seeing them at Gigantour was nothing compared to watching these guys work up close! Ellsworth has become one of my favorite lead-men; his charm, energy and, I’m gonna say it, flat-out sex appeal is something you just don’t see anymore, especially in metal. The dude’s been doing this since 1980 and he is still acting (and, in a lot of ways, looking) like he just ran over from his last class of the day to jam with his bros before he has to do chores. You hear a lot of talk on how exhausting it is to play shows forever, how touring wears you out and how eventually you just go through the motions as a band (I’m looking at you, Deicide), but here was Ellsworth and crew, throwing all that shit out the window in favor of one of the most high-energy, exciting and downright badass shows I’ve been to in a long time. And these guys have been going since 1980! Let that be a lesson to you, metal bands: it can be done.

Of course, they’re touring in promotion of their newest album, The Electric Age, and gave us a taste of the album material with songs like “Electric Rattlesnake,” “Wish You Were Dead” and “Save Yourself.” Old albums were certainly not neglected, though; “Bring Me The Night,” “Hello From The Gutter,” “Deny the Cross” and “It Lives,” just to name a few tracks. Ending the set with “Fuck You” was an especially badass touch. The show was pulsing with energy from start to finish, and every band was participating in this feeling. At first, I was a little curious at this tour line-up. After seeing the show, I am glad all these bands were sharing a stage, because they all express this indefinable energy that blends so well from one set to the next, leaving you happy and tired and glad to be alive. (And infinitely glad you were right in front to watch every second.)
Suidakra. Photo: Megan Kennedy Suidakra. Photo: Megan Kennedy God Forbid. Photo: Megan Kennedy God Forbid. Photo: Megan Kennedy Blitz Ellsworth of Overkill. Photo: Megan Kennedy Blitz Ellsworth of Overkill. Photo: Megan Kennedy