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Hatebreed - September 1, 2009 - Mr. Smalls Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA

By: David E. Gehlke

Hardcore, in its various forms, has always been an easy sell in Pittsburgh. And while the scene isn't as thriving as it was four years ago, the kids still come out in droves, especially for the most commercial and successful of its acts, Hatebreed. A near sell-out was on hand, on a Tuesday no less. A school night, too. Wow.

Comprising of a varied, jam-packed bill with Toxic Holocaust, Dying Fetus, Winds of Plague, Chimaria, and the aformentioned Hatebreed, the show got under way at the un-metal time of 7:00 PM. Since yours truly was still en route and on the prowl for some pre-show eats, Joey Grind and his Toxic Holocaust troop were missed. Dying Fetus, though, were not and proceeded to lay out the crowd with cuts from their new album Descend Into Deprativity, including the killer new "Your Treachery Will Result In Your Death" and various slabs from their now seminal Destroy the Opposition album. Now reduced to a three-piece, John Gallagher and co. suffered from a porous mix, with only the band's patented mosh sections gaining any sort of clarity.

Winds of Plague are like Bleeding Through Jr., minus the tough-guy/half-EMO ramblings. The set was one big beatdown, as singer Jonny Plague (who looked straight out of Mad Max) tore up the stage, no doubt in search of the next circle pit or "dance off," neither of which ensued. The band's generic, samey, psuedo black metal approach needs a lot of work, although keyboardist Kristen Randall was a spectacle to watch for the denzions of males when she stepped out from her keyboard throne. A chick headbanging - a good looking one - is always fun to watch.

Cleveland's Chimaira were up next, wisely ommitting the fact they are from Cleveland, probably to escape a stray boo or two. Enjoying a rapturous response, the six-piece doled out several big blows in the form of "Resurrection," "The Flame," "Secrets of the Dead" and crowd favorite, "Pure Hatred." Singer Mark Hunter may not be the most active of frontmen, but his assured, almost relaxed charisma was the perfect counterbalance to the band's rigid, triplet-laden sound. No tunes from their very underrated self-titled effort were aired, much to this scribe's lament, but the band has proven to be a formidable live act, in spite of their few pitfalls.

Odd seeing Hatebreed without longtime guitarist Sean Martin, but here they were, in the flesh and in top form with Jamey Jasta parading around like a man possessed. Culling largely from Perseverance and The Rise of Brutality, the Connecticut quintet are as predictable as they are effective, which is probably why the raucous crowd was in fact, so raucous.

There is no hardcore band going with more purpose and broad appeal, which makes their long-standing success no coincidence. From top to bottom, this hand-picked bill is a testament to Hatebreed's connection to the underground and its fans. The dude next to yours truly felt the same way - he went nuts during "I Will Be Heard."


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