Article and Photography by Steven Principato
New York, NY — Hidden discreetly beneath the cavernous expanse of Webster Hall, which appeared to be hosting an immeasurably paradoxical dance-party event, The Marlin Room is a small and personal sized room that faithfully re-creates the atmosphere that of a small venue, forbidding any admission to cavalier rock stars , and asking all egos to be checked at the stage door. Any performing bands that dare tread upon the waist-high and easily accessible stage, do so at their own risk of having to interact with your fans at a more personal level – it’s well worth it. Such a venue enhances the fan’s experience to such high energy and chaotic acts such as Iron Reagan and Power Trip, allowing an authentic and virtually boundless headbanging, crowd surfing and skull crushing experience one should expect from these genuine crossover thrash-masters
Opening the show, all the way from the city of champions, (which is apparently Pittsburgh) Concealed Blade took to the stage with an aggression that could only help prepare us for the inevitable onslaught ominously looming. Keeping true to their chaotic roots in hardcore punk, these yinzers delivered a salvo of steel upon a graciously approving audience that was craving a world of hurt. As the barbarous lead vocalist paced about the stage with furious intensity, belting out tormented screams of rage upon the eager crowd below while the band butchered the room with a series of ultra-aggressive riffing blasts, I couldn’t resist the conjured up memories of ’90s hardcore shows in NYC’s bygone venues. Rapidly powering through their brief but effective set, Concealed Blade proved a worthy opener to the oncoming crossover bombardment hurling toward us like a nuclear strike themed classic thrash record from the 1980’s.
Taking the stage under the skeletal backdrop artwork of their latest release, Crossover Ministry (Relapse Records, 2017) Iron Reagan, (straight out of Richmond, VA and featuring members of fellow thrashers Municipal Waste) took no time to get the bodies hurling from stage to floor and back again in quick succession. Opening the show with “A Dying World,” Iron Reagan sent the crowd into a furious barrage of violent but cathartic nirvana. Powered by an aggressive palm-muted guitar attack reminiscent of street thrash and hardcore sounds of ’80s and ’90s acts such as S.O.D, Nuclear Assault, D.R.I. and Agnostic Front, Iron Reagan lends genuine authenticity to this classic sound, in stark contrast to the many recent crossover startup acts exhibiting a mere “ironic” tongue-and-cheek classic thrash persona, from lyrics to cover artwork.
Going hard for the entirety of their ostensibly brief set, vocalist Tony Foresta’s furious performance was in total sync with the brutal hell-storm of sweat and blood below, who — like the band — refused to take a break from the ensuing battle. Preaching a sermon of political disobedience and anthems of social subversion with titles such as “Fuck the Neighbors,” which happens to be the ideal war-cry if your actual neighbors are complete dicks, and “Eat Shit and Live,” which is the only thing better than telling someone to eat shit and DIE. After the smoke cleared and Iron Reagan marveled upon the carnage they had inflicted, the now warmed up mob, now sufficiently bloody and bruised, eagerly awaited the next act.
Promising even more brutality than the preceding act, fellow crossover addicts Power Trip took to the stage as the headlining act. Coming at us all the way from the big bad state of Texas, Power Trip delivers a genuine and fundamental thrash sound, free of coastal pretensions. Kicking off the chaos with “Soul Sacrifice”, not to be in any way confused with the significantly less metal Santana track of the same title, perhaps perfect opener to the raging mob before them, feverishly demanding even more bloodshed. Never letting down their loyal fans, Power Trip proceeded to deliver the ultimate annihilation upon the venue with the combined thrash-tastic ripping leads of Blake Ibanez (appropriately named after the guitar?) and the early Hetfield-like rhythm guitar fury of Nick Stewart. Delivering a lecture of his own Nightmare Logic, no frills vocalist Riley Gale effortlessly achieved the impossible feat of surpassing the impressive level of disorder brought upon by the preceding act. Declaring Manifest Decimation upon the remains of the once proud army of headbangers below, Power Trip wrapped up their daily night of mass bloodletting once more, under the roars of battered yet satisfied Marlin Room.
Acknowledging the rise of the numerous revivalist acts in metal music today that span the many sub-genres, there is no denying the fact of total authenticity and undying dedication to thrash-metal by tonight’s performances. Some might consider such acts as a regression or stagnation in the progression of metal at large, however I find myself in gracious admiration of many such bands that choose to be guardians of dubiously by-gone genres of metal that will live on forever.