Diesel doubles as a concert venue and as a nightclub, so it was with little surprise to learn that the crowd was to be dispersed by 9:30 PM so the various d-bags and drunk sorority girls could get their "dance on." It was quite the sight when the club's female dancers strolled in during Soilwork's airing of "Chainheart Machine." The look on their face of utter disbelief and disgust was priceless, but really, a 5:15 PM start-time was not very metal. Neither are disco balls, but it’s either this tour played here or passed Pittsburgh over altogether. On a side note: to the three dudes who complimented yours truly on his Kalmah shirt - you have marvelous taste.
Five bands were to be crammed into four hours of music, which meant someone was getting the shaft. New Jersey pirate metallers Swashbuckle had the “luxury” of a 25-minute set, making the best of a suspect mix and tuning difficulties from guitarist Commodore Redrum. Nevertheless, bassist/vocalist Admiral Nobeard had a nice array of quips about (in pirate voice) “your mother,” and in a flash they were off and Mutiny Within (also from Jersey) were onstage. Some derision over the band’s standing in the scene has been made known, given the label they’re on (Roadrunner), but MW’s blend of modern and melodic metal isn’t as porous as people make it out to be. In fact, there’s some quality hooks in there, especially when singer Chris Clancy (he’s a Brit) gets into his clean vocal range. People need to relax sometimes.
Montreal’s Augury (who seemingly haven’t left the road since the release of Fragmentary Evidence) were making their third appearance in Pittsburgh in eight months. A poor-man’s Obscura, the French-Canadians clearly had no regard for their stage appearance, from the donning of Augury gym shorts (sweatpants would rule even more) to the frazzled facial expressions of drummer Robin Stone (dude looked like he was in pain while blasting), Augury is an easy band to remember visually. Too bad the same can’t be said for their music.
Death Angel stole the show. Not that it’s a surprise or anything – the Bay Area thrash legends have always had the reputation of a killer live act, backing that claim up tonight in what was their first appearance in Pittsburgh in over two decades. Enjoying the best sound of the evening, the band tore into “Lord of Hate,” “Kill As One,” “Killing Season,” and set highlight “Thrown to the Wolves” and made it look effortless. In fact, it was a virtual clinic on stage presence – they were all over the place, as singer Mark Osegueda and long-time partner in crime Rob Cavestany bandied about the stage, engaging the crowd. Frankly, it was a rare sight...wish more bands were this energetic onstage. DA killed.
Pittsburgh has always been kind to Soilwork (hence “The Pittsburgh Syndrome” – more on that in a second) and the band reciprocated in kind with a brief, but well-rounded set. Relying heavily on their new Panic Broadcast effort, the Swedes got things rolling with “Late For the Kill, Early for the Slaughter” and “Two Lives Worth Reckoning,” before dropping into “As We Speak” and set highlight “The Flameout.” “Nerve,” which is the only good song on Stabbing the Drama was aired and “Chainheart Machine” was the sole selection of the album bearing its name.
As a special treat to the crowd, “The Pittsburgh Syndrome” was aired, eliciting a “Cleveland Sucks!” chant, of which this scribe’s contingent of friends and bandmates enjoyed a hearty laugh (I have a Cleveland Browns keychain displayed prominently – you figure out the rest). By that time, it was nearly 9:30 and the grubby metal crowd was ushered out so the not-so grubby clubbers could come in and try to recreate the club scenes from The Jersey Shore. Wonder if they wanted Swashbuckle to hang out – they are from Jersey after all...