GIG REVIEW: Flotsam And Jetsam, Helstar & Hatchet Live at the Diesel Lounge, Chesterfield, MI
Thrash titans Flotsam and Jetsam brought a metal storm of epic proportions to the stage at the Diesel Concert Lounge in Chesterfield, MI, located just north of Detroit. The band has been relentlessly touring in support of their new self-titled album. They put together a monstrous line-up of thrash for this gig with Helstar and Hatchet joining them on the stage to break necks in metal ecstasy.
Getting the show started with an exhibition of local metal talent was Killbury Unit. This band showed the fine, hardened edge of metal forged in the gritty streets of Detroit. In addition to crunchy metal music, the band displayed a great deal of showmanship. They achieved the goal of getting the crowd ready for more metal.
The main event on this powerhouse night of metal started with Hatchet. In a blizzard of riffs, punishing drums, and head-slamming bass, the band drew fans up to the stage to rage with them. Guitarists Julz Ramos and Clayton Cagle were dazzling as they tore into “Fall From Grace” and “The World Beyond”. Meanwhile, drummer Ben Smith and bassist Devin Reiche kept the pace furious and intense. Hatchet is pure thrash, and should be heard in every household. They put on a fiery performance that had the audience stoked.
The power metal gods known as Helstar were next up. As a tension-building classical guitar opening track played, lead singer James Rivera strode on to the stage in a Dracula cape with fangs gleaming. The band launched into “Baptized in Blood” from their classic ‘Nosferatu’ album. Beckoning the crowd with his amazing vocals, James pulled us all close for “Blood Lust” off their latest album, ‘Vampiro’.
The live technical prowess of the band was phenomenal. Andrew Atwood and Casey Trask unveiled mind-boggling fretboard wizardry. Equally impressive were the fleet fretwork of bassist Garrick Smith and percussive flare of Sean Elg. Elg put on a fine show with sticks twirling as kick drums pounded. This was the first time in Helstar’s long history to visit Michigan. By the resounding approval of the crowd, it was apparent that the band is welcome back any time.
As the lights dimmed, the house erupted in cheers for the destroyers of souls, Flotsam and Jetsam. It had been just over twenty years since Flotsam visited the Detroit area. Given the enthusiasm of the crowd, the band was truly missed.
The show got started with “Seventh Seal” off of their stellar self-titled album. Fists pounded the air as Jason Bittner kept the pace brisk and brutal with touring bassist Bill Bodily adding a powerful low-end punch. Eric “AK” then mentioned that the band would be digging back into their catalog, and the first offering was the blazing “Dreams of Death” off ‘No Place for Disgrace’.
Heads banged and a mosh pit fired up when the band flew into “Hammerhead”. Michael Gilbert and Steve Conley were on top of their game, trading one blazing lick after another. In addition to these metal anthems, Flotsam kicked out “Desecrator”, “She Took an Axe”, “I Live, You Die”, and “No Place for Disgrace”. Each of these was met with fervent appreciation of the audience.
Eric “AK” sounded incredible all night, with the highlight being his melodic phrasing on “Iron Maiden”. Flotsam and Jetsam’s massive set came to a triumphant close with the fist-pumping “Suffer the Masses” and the terrifying “Doomsday for the Deceiver”. Everyone at the Diesel Concert Lounge had a huge smile on their face at the end of this momentous show. It was great to see a solid thrash metal line-up that maintained a wealth of energy and excitement throughout each performance.