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Queensryche / Armored Saint / Death Angel Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 17, 2015    
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Queensryche / Armored Saint / Death Angel - The Electric Ballroom, London (UK) - 6th August 2015

It was a warm evening in Camden, tourists and local freaks passed by and looked amazed at the queue of Metalheads with the rarest of patches on their jeans/leather jackets (Crimson Glory, Savatage, Metal Church, even Heir Apparent!), that was the most intriguing sight I could ever have experienced in Camden. This was a night for selected ones, for people who were really, really, into underground music. Yes, because the bands scheduled to play tonight reflected a Metal state of mind that, even back in the glorious days of Heavy Metal (the eighties of course), was not that totally understood and given the credit it deserved.

"The thinking man's Heavy Metal band", this is how Queensryche was considered back then. Imagine nowadays, when even thinking has become an unusual and outrageous act. No other band pushed the boundaries of its style and lyrics so deeply and meaningfully and even today, with severe line-up changes, that progression still fascinates.

But let's start talking about the opening act Death Angel, another misunderstood and overlooked act from the San Francisco Metal scene. Of course, they've also been through some line-up mutations and the only original members left today are vocalist Mark Osegueda and guitarist Rob Cavestany, but all of the overwhelming Thrash Metal spirit from the Bay Area was still intact, just like the consistency of their discography by the way. This was demonstrated by the fact that a big part of their set-list consisted of songs from their latest album 'The Dream Calls For Blood', like the introductive 'Left For Dead', 'Song Of The Morning' and the final title-track which were faithfully delivered in the live format with the same shark attack groove that it used to be.

With Armored Saint the air of the Electric Ballroom kept burning up, as the street warriors of the L.A. Metal literally owned the stage. I've always believed that John Bush is one of the few most powerful and reliable Metal singers out there and his performance tonight was one of the most vivid proofs I could ever have. This guy was such an intense and beasty performer, just like a screaming version of Bruce Willis! Not to mention the street-wise brutality with which Jeff Duncan revised the classic tracks of his repertoire. 'March Of The Saint' was interpreted in such a Punkish-New Wave rush and 'Nervous Man' was merely a bold and cocky Metal assault hymn. 'Reign Of Fire' and 'Can You Deliver', instead, sounded catchier than ever and totally dominated the audience of the Ballroom. This California gang surely satisfied the London hardcore Metal legion tonight but the stage had been set for the main attraction and the magic began.

Just Scott Rockenfield's futuristic drum-kit gave the idea of the variety and 'progression' of sound this band has gone through since from the start of their career and when the majestic pounding of 'Anarchy-X' started, you realized you were really launched into another sonic dimension. Soon after the magniloquent intro, it was the turn of 'Nightrider', 'Breaking The Silence' and 'Walking The Shadows' and all the eyes – and ears – were on him; Todd La Torre. On replacing Geoff Tate he had one of the toughest responsibilities of his life, but if Queensryche gained a renewed respect and devotion by their hardcore fans, it was also because of him. Both technically and visually, he was absolutely flawless on stage, a perfect hybrid between Tate himself and Midnight, the sadly missed singer from Crimson Glory. The only detail which the vocal interpretation of the classic ones lacked was that of the peculiar range width only Tate is capable of. And this, honestly speaking, is irreplaceable, especially with songs like 'Silent Lucidity' or 'Eyes Of A Stranger', amazingly reproduced tonight though the warmth of the lower tones turned pretty cold and flat.

On the other side – this must be said, as well - Tate cannot reach the high notes La Torre easily hits anymore today. Details aside, the intense and imaginative show Queensryche wrapped the audience of London with was absolutely impressive, with Michael Wilton finding a great complicity with newcomer Parker Lundgren. As a whole, the band sounded tight and fresh, they're experiencing a new interesting chapter of their career and, like it or not, with or without the originals members, this new formula works. 'Queen Of The Reich' and 'Take Hold Of The Flame' closed this elitist Metal night and London saluted Queensryche with a pleased ovation. Too bad 'Revolution Calling' was not included in the set-list.

Enrico Navella

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