VENOM INC / GOATWHORE / TOXIC HOLOCAUST / THE CONVALESCENCE / DISCARNATE
Date: 08th September, 2017
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket: $20 (€17) GA - $99 (€82) VIP
The concert Fall season is upon us and there is always the painful possibility to have two great shows happening on the same day. In this case, VENOM INC and OVERKILL were in the Chicago area on a Friday night, making it too hard to choose. I guess, due to seniority or maybe to emotional reasons, we picked VENOM INC also adding the fact that these guys come from Europe, so they have a higher degree of difficulty to tour the US. And to top this off, VENOM INC had a powerful combo touring along, so it was not a big of a surprise seeing Reggies packed up. After all, the venue was also celebrating its 10th anniversary, so having a bunch of metalheads around was the best setup.
There was a pre-show interview scheduled with the Brits, so we had to move around and that meant losing the first bands and a good chunk of TOXIC HOLOCAUST's set. And man, what a killer show they must have done... I mean, people in the front rows were packed as sardines, and a couple steps behind them, there was a huge mosh-pit going strong, like it was the end of the world. TOXIC HOLOCAUST play an almost blackened type of Speed Metal and they totally own it. I mean, no matter how great one band sounds from the studio, if the live show sucks, then everything goes down the drain. But the band from Portland, Oregon knows exactly how to deliver these energy pumped songs and, on top of this, has the way to get connected with the audience and pretty much cause mayhem in every given chance. After “Silence”, Joel Grind asked the simplest of questions: “Chicago, are you fuckin’ ready to nuke the fuckin’ cross?” and all Hell broke loose... I mean, it looked like the barrier separating the audience from the stage had just disappeared somewhere between the metalheads going crazy. And it was not just a run of the mill mosh-pit but there was some stage-diving too making the entire experience even more old-school. Fortunately, there was not over-the-top stage-diving and the guys (and some girls) were careful enough to not exactly jump but fall onto the maniac crowd. In any case, the feeling was awesome and the same happened during the setlist closer “Bitch”, making me feel really bad for missing the rest of TOXIC HOLOCAUST set. This band is a solid guarantee for everyone who looks to have some Metal fun at a Metal show!
After witnessing the intensity of TOXIC HOLOCAUST and seeing the sweaty faces walking outside the venue to get some very much need air, I started having doubts if GOATWHORE would match this, and then if there would be any energy left for the headliners of the night. Reggies had turned into a steaming sauna and there were quite a few occasions of having troubles getting a good gulp of fresh air. Fortunately, as people went outside, the atmosphere inside became humane, so soon enough we were ready for GOATWHORE. By the time the New Orleans band had hit the stage, Reggies looked packed once more but with slightly more room than before. Still, the intensity during the setlist opener “Under The Flesh, Into The Soul” was high but not at the same level with TOXIC HOLOCAUST; yet... Yeah, GOATWHORE took over the stage by storm as if they knew that they had to push this a notch up to get people going as it happened in the previous set. Ben Falgoust took zero time to get warmed up and was as close as possible to the metalheads who were already fist-pumping in the air following the singer’s command. The hard hitting grooves, the abundance of double bass drum combined with the early MORBID ANGEL guitars of “Alchemy Of The Black Sun Cult” got everyone back into the moshing mood. Yeah, as “Forsaken” was the third back-to-back track of the set the mosh-pit had reached its former glory and everyone looked sweaty and happy. Soon enough, there was some stage-diving too, so I would say GOATWHORE managed to exceed my expectations and most probably had drained the last drop of fuel inside the metalheads’ tank. Well, for that, I would have to see how VENOM INC would do...
“When Steel And Bone Meet” sounded absolutely awesome with the crushing rhythm section and really having the tall singer pointing at everyone surely got the blood moving. “Thank you for coming out to support this show” Ben said seconds before the double bass drum assault of “Mankind Will Have No Mercy” which saw more bodies flying. Of course the last song of the night for GOATWHORE was “FBS” or as it better known “Fucked By Satan”... As you can imagine, chaos reigned inside Reggies making this the highlight of this set. Especially, the part where the band stopped and resumed the chorus was the icing on this blackened Thrash cake.
01. “Under The Flesh, Into The Soul”
02. “Alchemy Of The Black Sun Cult”
04. “Chaos Arcane”
05. “Baring Teeth For Revolt”
06. “Vengeful Ascension”
07. “When Steel And Bone Meet”
08. “Drowned In Grim Rebirth”
09. “Apocalyptic Havoc”
10. “Mankind Will Have No Mercy”
(click to enlarge)
One striking difference I noticed as VENOM INC were setting up their gear, was the large number of young faces inside Reggies. At first, I thought it was mainly due to the TOXIC HOLOCAUST and GOATWHORE on the bill, but as we were getting ready for the headliners, more young(er) metalheads were approaching the stage. I don’t know the whys and the hows but it seemed that VENOM INC have created a fuss around these legendary songs and I will definitely not be complaining about. In fact, I felt extremely happy that the young generation of metalheads were ready to be exposed to this extremely underrated band. And yes, I make no distinction between VENOM with and without the INC, so you better stop reading, if you are craving for any sort of comparisons...
My surprise grew bigger during the taped intro of “Ave Satanas” during which all these young dudes starting screaming out of excitement. Yeah, I was definitely up for a treat! The Demolition Man / Mantas / Abaddon legendary trio showed up, and without further ado, kicked off the set with this mid-tempo crusher. The sound was awesome and Tony was grunting the lyrics with this trademark grinning way of singing, spitting the words behind his teeth (ok, you have to watch him to really understand what I’m talking about). Mantas immediately placed himself as close to the front rows as possible and woke (once again) great memories of seeing VENOM play live. The beauty of this is that this lineup does not feel like a nostalgia act and, in fact, would easily destroy any young band with their energy and their dedication to the music and, most importantly, to the fans. It feels like whatever they are doing and saying is all about the fans. Without pausing, the trademark riff marked the oldies time with “Welcome To Hell” restoring the chaos inside Reggies atmosphere. A huge mosh-pit was formed and once again I felt this unique happiness watching youngsters storming their way during this Thrash / Black Metal precursor. “It feels so fuckin’ nice being back” Tony acknowledged with Abaddon already standing up behind his drum-kit in this traditional way of greeting the fans. I guess this was the best place to add the new “Metal We Bleed” from the band’s debut LP under the VENOM INC moniker. The song came crushing upon us and despite the fact it was a new one, it kept the metalheads occupied, and I think I saw some of them singing-along the simple but most effective chorus.
Tony has his way of introducing the VENOM songs and even though you get to hear most of this words in every show, they don’t stop putting a wicked smile on my face; “Now, we all are gonna die but if we want to die like a devil, we need to live like an angel” send shivers down my spine each and every time and not only because “Live Like An Angel (Die Like A Devil)” is such a killer thrashin’ song. Which by the way, fits perfectly in the set right after “Die Hard”. And then: “when you go to church, you’ll see that the souls of the priests are black” was Tony’s way of introducing the massive “Blackened Are The Priests”. Ok, I was really hoping to get “Prime Evil” this time but I guess there were too many young faces in the crowd who haven’t heard this one before. As you may be expecting, the mosh-pit was still going strong with “Carnivorous” being the perfect occasion, with Mantas sounding the charge to for everyone to get into it.
“In every war, you need a weapon and for me, Abaddon is mine” Tony said pointing at his drummer who was already standing up, getting a huge gulp of Jack. Once again, I have to underline and highlight the great chemistry between these Brits who seem like an unstoppable machine from the first day they decided to get into this VENOM INC venture. And honestly, I could not be happier since now I have two bands serving the same name to wait for new music and the opportunity to get more VENOM songs from a live setting. You see, you don’t have to choose sides (that’s ridiculous, by the way), and the only thing you can do is bang your head as hard as you can and enjoy your time.
“There are things in life you can do and some things you cannot” was the cue Mantas needed to start the trademark neck-snapping riff of the yet another Thrash precursor “Don’t Burn The Witch” getting more action from the still going strong audience which deserves lots of credit for keeping up with the intensity coming from the band’s onstage. I mean, I had my doubts before every set, and after seeing all this action, but the Reggies crowd did justice to the anniversary celebration and joined VENOM INC in making this a killer show.The amazing “War” was the last song from the new album (I hoped for more, to be honest) and then it was straight back to the oldies with the triplet “Leave Me In Hell” / “Black Metal” / “Countess Bathory”. Of course, there was more moshing and thrashin’ around and to top things off there was loud singing along during “Countess Bathory” although I will get a bit of a nitpicker and say that I’d like to hear more chanting along during the legendary riff of the latter song. And with this song, Mantas said goodnight leaving Abaddon to make a round in front of crowd drinking more Jack and basically hinting that there would be more, if people wanted so... This is exactly what happened with many inside Reggies starting singing “one more song” and then the “VENOM, VENOM” chanting which gave me goosebumps. We did not wait much and the trio returned with Tony talking about the Metal brotherhood all metalheads belong no matter where they came from or what language they speak. Yeah, it was about time to claim us as being the “Sons Of Satan”. For a moment, I thought this would have been the last song of the night but Mantas and Abaddon pointed at Tony who had his back turned on us and started banging on his bass because it was about time... for “Witching -fuckin’- Hour” which to my mind has set the standards of how Thrash should sound. So, this was the best way to end this adrenaline-pumped night with both bands and audience earning the badge for putting out their best Metal behavior. Tony’s grunt / acknowledgement “Chicago, you fuckin’ rule” are the perfect words to describe how things went down that Friday night.
I have nothing to complain about this show and I really hope we’ll get more young faces in the crowd and soon we’ll see VENOM INC in a larger venue in front of a larger audience. And if you are an old-schooler, then this will mean a lot to remember: “Tape trading destroys music; and so does VENOM”.
VENOM INC setlist:
01. “Ave Satanas”
02. “Welcome To Hell”
03. “Metal We Bleed”
04. “Die Hard”
05. “Live Like An Angel (Die Like A Devil)”
06. “Blackened Are The Priests”
09. “Don't Burn The Witch”
11. “Leave Me In Hell”
12. “Black Metal”
13. “Countess Bathory”
14. “Sons Of Satan”
15. “Witching Hour”
(click to enlarge)