It is with the fullest heart that I greet you dearest readers of Last Rites. It has been a while since I showed my figurative face around these parts, and I can truly say that it sure feels good to be home. Those of you that read my scribblings and ramblings on Last Rites when it was still Metal Review know that I like to write about…well, about me. Not that old moi is the sole focus of my texts, but I just like to link what I hear with what I think and feel. For those of you who are reading my words for the first time, I hope you will be able to get used to articles sometimes filled with a good dosage of sissy, ‘cause that’s what I mostly am when music is involved: a passionate listener and fan with the greatest of expectations from musicians and bands. (But, hey, I give back, too!)
And now, on to business:
Somewhere in November it was announced that Overkill were taking their European tour to our part of the woods (that’s the Balkans, people) — an announcement that, naturally, made everyone shit pink happy flowers for the rest of the month. In November, they said “We’ll be there in March,” so we all marked our calendars for what was sure to be one of the metal events of the year. In November, it seemed, the wait was going to be for-fucking-ever, and now here we are, the concert behind us, and I’m trying to figure out how to put into words the “clash of the titans” that happened on that rainy weekday evening in Zagreb.
Right off, I have a confession to make (which will make me very much less trve to your average metalhead): My main motivation for going to the show was Sanctuary. Yes, I have deep respect for Overkill and I’ll throw them on my player every once in awhile (mostly when I’m getting ready to get shitfaced), but it’s the announcement of Sanctuary’s arrival in my town that made my heart skip a beat. So, let’s do a quick recap of the band’s history for all our young’uns out there:
They formed in Seattle in the 80s; Dave Mustaine produced their first album, Refuge Denied, after which they released their sophomore, highly acclaimed, turned-them-into-underground-legends album Into the Mirror Black. As often happens, for some shitty mysterious reasons after a band releases a near-perfect album, they disbanded. The one good thing that came out of this disbandment is that some of the members went on to form Nevermore — the vocal duties in both bands fall onto the one and only Warrel Dane. In 2010-ish, Sanctuary did a few reunion shows that eventually led to a permanent situation and to a stellar new album, The Year the Sun Died, released through Century Media.
So now, the line-up for the Zagreb show consisted of four bands, two of which I’d never heard or heard of, and due to work, never got a chance to hear, since I missed their performance. But, hey, they at least deserve a mention since they scored a gig with Overkill. They are Suborned, a thrash metal band from Switzerland, and Methedrasfrom Italy. Don’t be an asshole like me. Check them out.
And then came Sanctuary. From the first riff, you can hear the sound just ain’t right for this band. It’s echo-y and chaotic, and if you’ve ever heard Warrel Dane sing, you know that isn’t a good combination. The crowd isn’t overly excited, and that’s because I expect a large number of them were there to see Overkill. Still, you can hear fans here and there shouting out names of songs they want played and a scream here and there in support of the band’s efforts. They opened with a track from their latest, “Arise and Purify,” and the musicians are doing their jobs like the old pros they are: terrifically, while Warrel is communicating with the audience which is always held in high regard.
After a couple of songs from their new album, they announce they’re going down Memory Lane and this is where the crowd gets a bit more restless, even though the old stuff warms the heart of an old fan (that would be me). They play some of their classics, including “Taste Revenge” and “Future Tense,” but what really got the crowd going, and what was also a personal highlight for me, was when they played their cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” Simply put, that was just fucking awesome. They had a few more songs on the setlist, and I was happy I got to hear my fave from the new album: “Frozen.”
All in all, it wasn’t a bad show, but have I seen better ones? Oh, yeah. Part of the reason why they didn’t blow me away (as I expected them to) was that the sound was really crappy at times, and because Warrel just wasn’t at his best that day, as he struggled with some of his vocal parts. I still love the shit out of them though, and hope this won’t be the last time I see these guys in any of their incarnations.
Pause for set-change… People are running to take a leak and get a beer refill, because, hey, THERE WILL BE NO TIME FOR THAT ONCE OVERKILL STARTS. And then they take the stage.
People are having hissy fits. A mosh pit forms quicker that I can say “beer,“ and Overkill, my friends, are in top fucking shape. It’s only the first song (“Armorist”) and you can tell they’re going to tear the place apart.
“It took us 30 years to get to Croatia and let me tell you, it’s been a long walk from New Jersey.”
The crowd goes wild. Up next come “Hammerhead”, “Powersurge,” and the legendary “In Union We Stand.”
They are fucking ripping it with “Rotten to the Core,” and I’m looking for my oxygen tank, because these guys are not giving us a break.
“C’mon I’m waiting for you motherfuckers. Let’s go old school.” And then “End of the Line”. People are losing it.
After a few more hits and the sweat level going up 100, it’s time to wrap things up and what better way than with: “Pay attention this is no time to be a pussy!” And here goes “Fuck you”.
Needless to say, it was a fitting ending.
What a show, ladies and gents, what a show. You can truly see why these guys are heavy metal greats.
And that would be all for now dearest readers. Stay metal. Take your vitamins. Listen to Sanctuary and Overkill.