Last Thursday September 18 was a day I had circled on my calendar since March. OVERKILL was playing Trees Dallas AGAIN!! And this time they were bringing fellow east coast heavy hitters PRONG! AND I was able to bring Ryan from Ardent Owl Media (and one half of the Wonder Twins) to take pictures. Not to mention the fact that this was Ryan’s first time at Trees and watching him take in the sheer majesty of the place was damn near as good as the show we were about to witness. We headed over to the bar for a cold one before the evening of thrash-tastic metal was about to begin.
Things started off with local boys EXPLODER who seem to be popping up on bills from here to Timbuktu. I’m happy for them because they are a great, great band. All I knew about them before was that I am friends with their manager (Hi, Angie!) and their t-shirts are all over Deep Ellum on any given night. Having known Angie since February I was excited to finally see her boys in action. They did NOT disappoint. Hailing from Dallas, this four-piece is tightly wound and ready to strike like the proverbial cobra.
There are a lot of metal bands in this area which is a blessing and a curse sometimes. On one hand it’s great because metal is alive and well in Deep Ellum. On the other hand, some of the bands are just…nice… not THRILLING, but nice. I won’t name any because I give everyone credit just for getting up there.
Luckily, EXPLODER hits in all the right places. As soon as opener “Game Over” started I knew they were gonna make this old thrash-head very happy. And apparently I wasn’t alone because they drew some loud cheers! Brandon Chandler who plays bass and sings lead was crystal clear and impressive in his delivery while guitarists Jacob Slatouski and Joshua Castilleja provided the buzz saw riffage. “War Machine” was up next and ten seconds in I declared this my favorite EXPLODER song largely due to drummer Lincoln Mullins making like a rabid weasel back there! The one-two of “Spitfire” and set closer “Key of Thrash” brought their set to a powerful close. I’ve listened to them on their Facebook page before but believe me when I tell you that the recorded versions of these songs pale in comparison to them live. A great way to start our evening, and I recommend you catch them yourselves!
I was pretty excited to finally see PRONG, especially since their last two albums Carved Into Stone and Ruining Lives to me represent some of their best work. Much like their counterparts in OVERKILL it seems that they are doing the best writing in the second half of their career. Opening with a great pair of oldies “For Dear Life” and “Beg to Differ” from 1990’s album of the same name PRONG had this Dallas crowd in the palm of their hands. Tommy Victor has never sounded better and the songs have even more balls live. From the new record “Ruining Lives” pounded like a jackhammer and “Turnover” made me wanna launch someone up in the air. Jason Christopher (Bass, Backing Vocals) and Art Cruz (Drums) were locked in for all songs but especially “Cut-Rate” one of my favorites off of Cleansing.
Speaking of favorites, when the band launched into “Revenge Best Served Cold” I thought I might have a heart attack. Easily one of the best songs PRONG has ever written I was screaming like a madman the whole time. And as if that wasn’t enough they followed up with “Whose Fist Is This Anyway?” which had 41-year old me banging his head for the entire five minutes, something I haven’t done in years! I couldn’t help it, that song just sets me off. Just when I thought it was safe to stop banging they busted out “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” to cap off their ferocious set. Holy fuck, they were great! I can’t believe I’ve never seen PRONG live before now. Well, rest assured I’ll be there every time they come to town from now on.
And now it was time for the band I’d been waiting for since March 21 (YIS, I remember the date I got the announcement!), OVERKILL to come and claim Trees as their territory for the night. Wasting no time they immediately started punching teeth down throats with opener “Armorist” from new record White Devil Armory. Safe to say just about EVERYONE in attendance has the record judging by the insanity on the floor for this one. “Overkill” was next and as soon as that guitar intro started I thought the roof might cave in. It was all pedal to the metal for “Electric Rattlesnake” and then “Wrecking Crew” (a favorite since I was 15!) before a change of pace came in the form of “Black Daze” one of the best cuts from The Electric Age. That’s the thing with this band; they pound you with speed then crush you with hellacious grooves.
It was back to 1985’s Feel the Fire with “Rotten to the Core” and what makes a song like this awesome is seeing this crew of teenage metalheads I’m friends with go just as hard to these songs as the new stuff. Somebody taught these guys well!
“Bring Me the Night” brought us back up to 80 mph, drummer Ron Lipnicki waging all-out war on his kit while bassist D.D. Verni and guitarists Derek Tailer and Dave Linsk peeled the paint off the walls with their axe attack. As I’ve said before this line-up of the band takes the old songs and makes them even better, like “End of the Line” from Under the Influence. Usually not one I go looking for, but it radiated heat and fire at Trees. My all-time favorite album From the Underground and Below was well-represented with “Long Time Dyin’” which sinks its teeth into you and will not let go. New song “Pig” was next and if possible Blitz sounded even better than the recording. I can only hope this is in the set for years to come.
The familiar strains of “Hello From the Gutter” and the pummeling attack of “Ironbound” closed out the main set in typically brutal fashion. It’s a wonder they had anything left! For the encores it’s like the guys read my mind. Evil new tune “Bitter Pill” followed by 1989’s “Elimination” and penultimate closer “Fuck You” was like one last stick of dynamite to blow the roof off the joint and send us home well-conquered. The setlist was the perfect mix of old and new; this was my fifth OVERKILL show and I can honestly say this was the best they’ve ever sounded. On this night Blitz and Co. had NO peers, and NO equals. Their live show is like a Category 5 hurricane poised to take your head off. And THAT is why OVERKILL is the Greatest Thrash Band in the World, folks. Any questions?
LIVE REVIEW: THE MAESTRO
LIVE PHOTOS: ARDENT OWL MEDIA (You can see more HERE!)