April 20th, 2015 was a red letter day in my personal history. Not only one of my favorite secret holidays, but it was also the day I was honored and privileged enough to meet the legendary Max Cavalera on Cavalera Conspiracy’s ‘Pandemonium’ tour at the Baltimore Soundstage which is quickly becoming one of my favorite Baltimore venues.
Having completed interview duties early, we decided to hang out and make sure we were present for the entire show. Start time was set for 6:00 p.m. and we were there at 6:00 p.m. I really hope that any subsequent shows I’m lucky enough to witness at this venue start at the posted time. Sometime past 7:00 p.m., the first band of the evening hit the stage.
One thing I have overwhelmingly noticed about the lesser experienced, opening bands are that they invariably will NOT utter their band’s name in any intelligible way. It was only after I went home and did some research that I discovered the first band’s name was Ampallang Infection, a two-piece cacophony of stoner-punk on speed hailing from Who Knows Where, Maryland. The vocalist never stopped moving while on stage, he had the beautiful voice of a banshee screaming in the night, the songs played were short and frenzied bursts of blast beats and screeching vocals. We heard at least 8 songs in a 10-minute span which left most of the sparsely populated crowd annoyed and confused.
Next up was Noisem, a collection of young bucks from right here in Baltimore, MD. Utilizing their home field advantage, Noisem took to the stage while the majority in attendance were still recovering from the “infection”. With slightly more cohesive songs and more band members to round out their sound, Noisem will be a force to reckon with once they hone their writing skills and get some more stage time under their belts. The one-man mosh pit up front loved them. After their set, they spent the remainder of the evening walking around the venue like they owned the place.
After another brief intermission, Lody Kong was up. Lody Kong is a thrash metal band based in Arizona, members of which are Max Cavalera’s sons, Zyon on drums and Igor fronting. The riff-heavy thrash onslaught had obvious overtones of Dad Max’s influence. He’s teaching his boys right!
We were next treated to Corrosion of Conformity, legends in their own right, having been pounding out southern-inspired sludge metal for quite some time. These guys kicked ass right out of the gate. After having reconnected with original singer Pepper Keenan, the band seemed rejuvenated, playing a mix of older music interspersed with newer tracks. COC enjoyed a great crowd reaction and played a full set of blasting tunes, even involving various members of the crowd who had paid for the VIP experience.
Death Angel descended next, flapping their metal wings with blind fury.Death Angel is another iconic metal band having also been melting minds for almost three decades. Mark Osegueda’s vocals were strong, Rob Cavestany’s and Ted Aguilar’s double guitars triumph as Will Carroll’s thundering drums and Damien Sisson’s intricate bass lines fill the listener with the bliss of headbanging at its best. Again mixing the old with the new, Death Angel played to the crowd with ease and did a great job of further warming up the crowd for the headline act.
By the time Max and friends, also known as Cavalera Conspiracy, hit the stage, we were all more than ready for them. There is no mistaking Max Cavalera’s distinctive vocals cutting through Mark Rizzo’s masterful guitar work. Add brother Iggor’s driving drums and Johnny Chow on bass and you have the marauding juggernaut that is Cavalera Conspiracy. The set list was dazzling, pulling songs from the various musical entities that showcase the vast talent that is Max Cavalera. The mosh pit was fairly active, collecting more than the one guy that it consisted of earlier in the evening. The pit seemed to go in waves with each song coming at a fever pitch of flying hair and fists. Overall, it was a killer show and I can’t wait to see Soulfly when they come through Baltimore.
As with all my gig reviews, I like to close out with my choice of my three metal show categories: glad I went, meh, and wish I stayed home. As with pretty much all the shows I’ve been to over the past 6 months, this was definitely a ‘glad I went’. It was absolutely a high energy show!
Dawn “Mama Love” Brown
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