Gathering at one of Baltimore’s favorite concert venues was a large and active crowd for what would prove to be a savage display of metalcore finery. The room was packed and geared up for the musical stylings of Hatebreed on tour for their latest album release, ‘The Concrete Confessional’ supported by Devildriver and Devil You Know. Just the combinations of the names of these bands made for an awesome collaboration.
Devil You Know was the lead-off for the night. Vocalist Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage) has a very distinctive voice which was kicked into high gear, along with John Sankey’s drums pounding out the blast beats. Combined with Francesco Artusato’s searing guitar and Ryan Wombacher’s articulate bass, it is quite clear why the Metal Hammer Golden God Awards named them Best New Band in 2014. Opening with “Consume the Damned” and “Embracing the Torture”, Devil You Know played a scorching set that garnered a lot of crowd response despite Jones’ feeble attempt at humor. One thing I’ve always loved about being part of the metal community is that, by and large, metalheads do not see color (ethnicity). Metalheads are metalheads, no matter your origin or appearance. So, when, Jones finished the second song, his declaration of “it’s a sea of white people!” was awkward at best considering most ethnicities were represented, as they usually are. Especially in Baltimore. The reaction wasn’t much better when he continued the “joke” after belting out “Seven Years Alone”. Okay, we get it, Howard. You might think you are different but to us, the fans, you’re a metalhead. Everything else is secondary. They closed out their set with “Stay of Execution”, “The Way We Die” and “Shut It Down”, but to be honest, I lost interest after the racial commentary.
Devildriver was up next, a raucous group of guys out of Santa Barbara, California. Fronted by Dez Fafara (ex-Coal Chamber) and supported by Mike Spreitzer and Neal Tiemann on guitars and Austin D’Amond on drums, Devildriver unleashed a merciless deluge of ear-piercing melodic death metal. It’s amazing that Dez’s voice can withstand such a workout for an entire tour. Thundering through a set comprised of various songs from their 7-disc catalog, such as “End of the Line”, “Daybreak”, “My Night Sky” and “Before the Hangman’s Noose”, Devildriver delivered a rowdy and grinding performance showcasing their excellent musicianship and commanding stage presence. Closing out with “Ruthless” and “Meet the Wretched”, Devildriver whipped the fans into a frenzy which, of course, resulted in semi-violent headbanging and crowd surfing that only got more intense as the evening progressed.
Headlining this tour was Hatebreed, an uber-talented band hailing from Connecticut, USA. Taking their influences from heavy metal and hardcore punk, Hatebreed has been an established and successful band for over 20 years. Their set kicked off with “Destroy Everything”, which has a wickedly catchy hook that inspires one to throw your arms in the air like you just don’t care. Following in succession was “Looking Down the Barrel of Today” off their latest release, ‘The Concrete Confessional’. This song is boisterous and in your face and translated fantastically on stage. Jamey Jasta knows how to bust out a good punk song as is clearly evident on the new record. Other songs off the new record translated just as well like “Something’s Off” (a GREAT song) and AD. The fans were wearing their metal hearts on their sleeves, with fists pounding and hair flying. The crowd surfing got out of hand for a minute, but security handled it like champs. The guys on the front line are getting experienced and it shows. Closing out with “Honor Never Dies”, “AD” and “I Will Be Heard”, Hatebreed was loud, fast, defiant and unapologetic. The atmosphere was crazy and fun, embodying the spark that the band has had since 1994.
Hatebreed in its current form is a knock-out force that will lay you out like a Bison in Yellowstone. Their no-nonsense approach and brutally honest lyrics kick you in the face, but it feels oh, so good.