THRASH INVASION TOUR: Onslaught, Artillery and Vx36 at the Mansion, Kingston, ON November 11, 2014
Photo above by Artillery
I don’t get out to shows very much anymore. Especially if I don’t have much experience with the bands on hand. But when I get an event invite titled THRASH INVASION how could I pass it up! The original tour was supposed to be the UK’s Onslaught and Denmark’s Artillery with Edmonton’s Striker. Unfortunately Striker had to back out after losing a guitarist but California’s Vx36 stepped in to fill the opening slot. Shows like this don’t often come around here so I had to make sure I showed up and support so the promoters keep putting them on. Kingston Punk Productions are really good at what they do.
On to the show.
I’m the kind of guy that shows up before the first band goes on no matter who it is. (After a brief stop at Value Village. No jean jackets but I did get a Pink Floyd tape and a Dio tape for $1 each.) Even though I’d never heard of Vx36 before I wasn’t going to punk out on them. Or even hang out downstairs until the “big acts” came on. The trio played a pretty good set and definitely won over some fans with the speedy take on thrash with some crossover appeal. Guitarist/vocalist Nate Klug had a unique voice. Very coarse with a bit of bark to it. Nice chops too. The songs were tight with some bangable riffs but kept things relatively simple and stripped down. He also provided some unintentional comic relief when his generous mane of hair became entangled in the headstock of his guitar. He left a little behind when he ripped it out.
Speaking of ripping out, bassist Hunter Spruce had some skills too, even if his stage presence looked a little awkward. But hey, he was into it and it was sure better than watching a guy stand still. I had trouble remembering the fill in drummer’s name even though he – Ben Smith of Iron Assault – approached me after the show. (Beer will do that to a memory.) He offered me a piece of pizza after admiring my Axeslasher “Pizzagram” shirt. I politely declined on account of the pepperoni. Good guys all around and it appeared they were making the best of an opportunity to play on such a far reaching tour. Nabbed a sticker for my CD cabinet.
Denmark’s Artillery filled the middle slot. I had heard from some colleagues that these dudes were pretty killer live. And they weren’t wrong. The quintet filled the stage not only physically but with their presence as well. Michael Bastholm Dahl has nice pipes! Not usually my style but seeing someone live can make a big difference. Of course, everyone else made the stage their own as well. I was especially impressed with veterans Michael Stützer (guitar) and Peter Thorslund (bass). At 54 and 47 respectively they can still bring the shred. Stutzer’s energy was infectious. Fist pumping and engaging the crowd, it was hard to believe he’s almost 20 years my senior.
Now, unless Morten Stützer (2nd guitar) has discovered the key to eternal youth it appeared someone was taking his place – Rune Gangelhof, as it turns out. He was awesome too. Not being terribly familiar with the band I wasn’t singing along but that doesn’t mean various parts of my body weren’t moving in time to their pure thrashiness. I even got Michael Stützer, Thorslund and Dahl to sign my By Inheritance cassette sleeve. (Well, I got a friend to do it for me. I was (a) busy socializing (!!!) and (b) too chicken.)
Onslaught finished off the night in grand fashion as well. It did take the crowd a little time to get really involved in the set and not without ample prompting from bassist Jeff Williams. But make no mistake, by the time they wrapped up it was like a bomb went off. Nige Rockett and Andy Rosser-Davies formed a formidable guitar attack and the trio of stringed avengers left everything they had on that stage. Drummer Michael Hourihan too worked up quite the sweat behind the kit. It was hard to see him from my vantage point what with the imposing size of Neil Turbin in front of him on the Mansion’s small stage.
Yes, Neil Turbin of Anthrax fame and not Onslaught’s usual throat Sy Keeler. Keeler stayed home to care for his ill son and the ex-Anthrax singer stepped in to allow the tour to continue. Obviously his style was different but he can still wail! Ridiculously so at times. You could tell he wasn’t as familiar with the lyrics as Keeler (duh) as he had a display with them on it just to make sure. It took away from his performance but what can ya do?
Like Artillery they had the thrashers down front making a mess of their hair and such while us old guys (relatively speaking) threw horns and nodded heads further back. And as just about anyone who knows me can attest, I was air guitar picking on my pant leg the whole time. The “Metal Forces” were indeed strong on this night!
Plus, I actually knew people there. Shoutouts to Jay, Gabe, Shawn, Matt K. and the one and only #skullfistbackpatchpizzaguy Matt A.!