By Brent Michael, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Venue: The Orpheum, Ybor City/Tampa, Florida–March 9th, 2020
If you live in the Tampa Bay area, or anywhere close to it, and you’re a metal afficianado, and you weren’t at the Orpheum last Monday, all I can say is: You messed up, bigtime! The walls were practically melting from the thrashng and shredding and general mayhem taking place.
Let’s start with the opening act, all the way from Denver, Hydraform. They struck a working balance between accessible and visceral, and clearly roused the not nearly enough fans who were there for the first band – I’m not sure if that’s the fault of Monday night shows, general attitude about opening bands, or fear of coronavirus. Tyler (Drums) Toth’s rhythms were reminiscent of a freight train and set the tone for Jacob (Guitar) Streifer’s lightning-fast riffs. John (Bass) Jarvinen’s low-frequency vibe glues the two together while filling out the band’s core sound. Carter (Vocals) Pashko wields his raking and rocking voice with exceptional control, pushing the limits of emotion and power without sacrificing tonal quality.
While there are clear influences from heavier music exemplified by Lamb of God, Tool and System of a Down, Hydraform has taken the groove-and-melody-oriented songwriting approach to give the aggressive energy of the music an immediate accessibility that eludes many harder edged bands.
In Late 2014, they recorded their first single Thrive. Exactly one year (to the day) later, Hydraform headed back into the studio to record the full length album Dark Adder, solidifying their place in the Mile High City. Dark Adder was made possible with a crowdfunding campaign, the music video for Thrive was created to generate momentum for the efforts. Have a listen!
Next up was a band whose reputation precedes them, Exhorder. “Classic thrash from New fuckin’ Orleans, back to melt your face off!” I couldn’t agree more! Talk about a band that rose from the dead, they broke up in 1993, re-formed in 2008 but split again when the bassist died from unknown causes in 2011. Six years later, founding members Vinnie La Bella (guitars) and Kyle Thomas (vocals) assembled a game plan with longtime friend and former member, Jason VieBrooks (bass, formerly of Heathen, Grip Inc., Year Of The Tyrant). This time around, they found a management team that could take Exhorder to another level as well as relieve the band members of decision making that ultimately led to the previous demise of all things Exhorder. Recruiting Sasha Horn (drums, formerly of Year Of The Tyrant, Forbidden) and Marzi Montazeri (guitars, formerly of Superjoint Ritual, Heavy as Texas, Philip H. Anselmo And The Illegals). They recorded a new more mature sounding album after a few tours, and Vinnie La Bella parted ways with the band in February 2020. just a couple weeks before this concert.
Not that you would know it from the performance they gave us! Kyle is exactly the kind of manic frontman that makes “Slaughter in the Vatican” sound exactly like a natural for the band. Each member gave his all, and I didn’t feel the band was in any way lacking, so great job guys!
Finally, OVER KILL took the stage, in a dramatic blacked-out entrance that turned shockingly bright! One other photographer cracked that someone forgot to tell the band about the “no flash” rule! And when I say the drummer was high, I’m talking about the riser he was on, which put him about head-high above the band. Formed in 1980 in New Jersey, they are considered one of the pioneers of thrash metal, forming at least a year before Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. They have gone through many line-up changes, leaving bassist D. D. Verni and lead vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth as the only constant members. In addition to Verni and Ellsworth, Overkill’s current lineup includes Dave Linsk on lead guitar, Derek Tailer on rhythm guitar and Jason Bittner on drums. During the 40 years of their existence, the band has produced 19 albums, leading to the latest effort, The Wings of War. It includes an homage to their home state, “Welcome to the Garden State,” along with 9 other splashy thrashy tunes.
Their live show does not disappoint, and their fans were out in force for this one! With their massive catalog to draw from, they could perform for over 12 hours and not repeat a song. Next time, be there!