By Brent Michael, Rock At Night Tampa Senior Correspondent
Venue: The Orpheum, Ybor City/Tampa, Florida–January 28th, 2022
Darkness settled upon Ybor in the land of Tampa, with rumors of the pirate Gaspar arriving with the cold; but I cared naught, for there wast metal madness afoot, and mine ears were soon to be assaulted by sonic sensations beyond the imaginings of mortal men! Yet mine entry into the walls of Orpheum wast delayed, due to a bureaucratic monster known only by the acronym “SNAFU!” Though I could hear the sweet sounds being Enforced whilst I waited at the not-so-pearly gates, by the time I gained entry I could only acquire one good photo of the band! Horrors of the night!
Okay, I wasn’t kidding about the darkness descending! All the opening acts were either blue or green mono-color lighting, and that meant low light levels, translating to slower shutter speeds, resulting in motion blur on almost every shot! I know, I know, metal bands and dark lighting go together like a pop singer and way too much makeup, but it does make it tough for us photo-types trying to show them off to a worldwide audience! Virginia-based crossover maniacs Enforced are touring to support their blistering new album, Kill Grid. Informed by a diverse cross-section of extremes—from thrash/punk to death metal/hardcore—the emergent five-piece outfit has dropped a nine-song cluster-bomb of thrashing death on apathetic times. Self-described as ‘Pure Crossover Death’, the Richmonders quickly established themselves as new metal hopefuls with the release of their two demos (both 2017) and debut full-length At the Walls (2019). They have toured with Sacred Reich, Iron Reagan, Integrity, All Out War, and are currently touring with Obituary. Their trademark is an energetic, aggressive sound, moored by thought-provoking lyrics. Songs like ‘The Doctrine’, ‘UXO’, ‘Curtain Fire’, and ‘Trespasser’ are designed for head-bangers and circle-pit lunatics alike. Kill Grid was featured on Liquid Metal, Spotify’s Thrasher’s playlist, Apple Music’s Breaking Metal playlist, YouTube Music’s Up From The Underground playlist (#1), and Tidal’s Extreme Metal Music playlist (#1) and was highly praised by Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, Kerrang!, Metal Injection, New Noise and more. My only regret is not getting to see as much of them as I would have liked, but at least I heard their whole set, and I expect them to return to Tampa in the future!
Gatecreeper is an American death metal band from Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, Arizona. Formed in 2013, they released a self-titled four-song EP in 2014, followed by a split with the band Take Over and Destroy. In 2016, the band was featured on a split with Homewrecker, Outer Heaven, and Scorched, and a split with the band Young and in the Way. Also in 2016, Gatecreeper released their debut full-length album, Sonoran Depravation. In 2019, they released Deserted, and Loudwire named it one of the 50 best metal albums of 2019. Following that in 2021, they released An Unexpected Reality. The album was ranked number fourteen on Revolver’s list of the “25 Best Albums of 2021.” One amusing note: Between current, past, and touring members, there are three with the nicknames “Hellhammer,Hell Mammoth, and Hallhammer.” All I can say is they lived up to the accolades and nicknames – and get the award for “Best Hairwhip of the Night!”
Next up was Municipal Waste, speaking of awards, they get the “Most Connected Band” award. Besides the typical Facebook and website links, they’re also on all the social media sites:
These guys are connected! And what do you think happens when a band’s riotous reputation catches up with them? Precautionary measures are taken and they – of course – get banished, only this time, it’s into space! When the greedy ship captain hordes the food rations, the crew kicks into survival mode, commits mutiny, and devours their captain, skewing the story into a horrific yet fantastic cannibalistic voyage into space that cult movies are made of. [Mostly copied from their own words]The Fatal Feast, the fifth studio album by Richmond, Virginia’s speed metal punks not only ponders the type of moral dilemma faced in the title track but also tackles earthly issues that consistently plague humanity (“Covered In Sick/The Barfer,” “Repossession,” “Standards And Practices,” “12 Step Program,” “Crushing Chest Wound”). This is what the band’s got to offer: their utmost respect for headbang-inducing riffs, their trademarked aggression, their tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, and their talent for extracting meaning out of the absurd.
Founded in 2000, the band quickly embraced a DYI ethic to spread the word about their band and graduated to booking shows out-of-state and even in Mexico. After a self-titled EP and the Waste ‘Em All debut album in 2003, they went on to record three full-length albums (2005’s Hazardous Mutation, 2007’s The Art Of Partying, and 2009’s Massive Aggressive), earning praise from Spin Magazine, Alternative Press, Decibel magazine, and Outburn. They earned their reputation as the ultimate feel-good party band – but they weren’t stopping there!
They’ve toured with such diverse acts as Suicidal Tendencies, The Casualties, 7 Seconds, Circle Jerks, Sick Of It All, GWAR, Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom, and At The Gates and won over their crowds. 2012’s The Fatal Feast was their first album to feature contributions from invited guests Steve Moore of Zombi, John Connelly of Nuclear Assault, and Tim Barry of Avail. The Fatal Feast debuted at #3 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Not bad for a band from Virginia, eh? Not a band to rest on their laurels and after some personnel shuffling, they put out Slime and Punishment in 2017and the EP The Last Rager in 2019, with a new album expected this year.
They were definitely on their game Friday night. They encouraged crowd surfing, winning the Audience Involvement Award by combining it with a set-ending sing-along, “Municipal Waste is Gonna Fuck You Up!” Definitely the fun party band to see!
Finally, it was time to say my final goodbye, but first, I needed an Obituary! I’m fortunate in that I live in their hometown, so they play here more often than other international acts.
And make no mistake, Obituary is definitely the OG of the death metal scene! Formed in 1984, they are a fundamental act in the development of death metal music, and are one of the most successful death metal bands of all time. To date, Obituary has released ten studio albums, and with the exception of their 1997–2003 split, they continue to perform live around the world. Initially called Executioner, the band changed its name to Xecutioner in 1986 to avoid confusion with the thrash metal band Executioner from Boston, and then changed its name once again to Obituary in 1988. Obituary has gone through several lineup changes, with the Tardy brothers and Peres being the only constant members. The band’s current lineup consists of vocalist John Tardy, drummer Donald Tardy, rhythm guitarist Trevor Peres, bassist Terry Butler, and lead guitarist Ken Andrews. Their music is based around heavily groove-based riffs and drumming along with John Tardy’s growling vocals, which create their signature brand of death metal.
Now here’s an interesting bit of trivia: I have personal connections with two of their influences, Savatage and Nasty Savage. Savatage was the first band I saw live when I arrived in Florida, when they were still Avatar. They actually played Busch Gardens! Later, singer Jon Oliva formed Jon Oliva’s Pain, and from 2004-2009 their keyboardist was John Zahner, a friend of mine currently with Stormbringer. I have an even more interesting connection to Nasty Savage: Their lead singer, “Nasty Ronnie Galetti, now owns Born to Ride Motorcycle Media, where I worked as a photographer for several years. The Tampa Metal Scene is just full of these connections!
But back to the current Obituary, they definitely rocked the house and were gleefully welcomed by the hundreds of fans in the capacity-plus crowd! There’s a reason they have their own book out, Turned Inside Out: The Official Story of Obituary. And rumor has it they’ll be releasing a new album this year that they’ve been painstakingly assembling during the COVID pandemic. Get your copy of the book today!
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