What better way to get people fired up for Berserker than a PREserker party at Small’s in Hamtrack, Michigan. The doors opened up early at Small’s for this free party featuring ten bands on two stages. Actually, it is one stage and then a space on the floor at the back of the room for the next band. In effect, you could turn around from the middle of the room and let the chaos surround you.
Getting things off to fevered frenzy was the blasting beats of Grimjob. Fashioned in Detroit, this band embraced unholy grind. A real treat awaited fans on the main stage with Nemesis. These guys play razor blade sharp thrash metal. Their riffs were infectious and fun. These guys should be touring the states spreading joyous mayhem.
Representing with spectacular hardcore was Detroit’s Great Reversals. They played solid hard hitting riffs reminiscent of Sworn Enemy and Death Before Dishonor. During one particularly crushing breakdown, a solo mosher sprayed the crowd in beer as he flailed across the floor. It’s not a metal show unless the floor is a mix of blood and beer.
Exploding Zombies did not disappoint in delivering a punishing set of classic death metal. They accentuated the blistering beats and monstrous riffs with a bloody butcher apron, dead skin mask, and severed heads. Bringing a fun fuck-you attitude to the screams of “Get A Job!”, the guys in No/Breaks raged with punk rock fury. Think of bands like the Circle Jerks and Fear and you’ll get the picture. The pit really got hot with these guys.
Bringing an intriguing change of pace was Empathy. The music had an underlying intensity without the need for constant speed. Fugazi and At The Drive In came to mind while they played. While the whole band was caught up in the music they played, their vocalist seemed like a man possessed as writhed and thrashed about the stage.
In unabashed grinding glory, Lt. Dan raised hell in blasting songs that never passed the two minute mark. The crowd was packed in close to the band as moshers spun in the opening just a few feet away. It was chaos that strangely brought a smile to many faces.
As if the music had not been heavy enough, the main stage welcomed Ohio’s Homewrecker. This band tore into their set with the vicious violence of a homicidal maniac on bath salts. They blended metallic hardcore, thrash and death into a toxic mix that peeled away the layers until nothing remained but gleaming white bone.
Nucleus take their enthusiasm for classic death metal and combine it with science fiction themes to create a fantastic amalgam of thoughtful and crushing metal. This Chicago band hit a home run with their song “Cantos” inspired by the awesome “Hyperion Cantos” book series by Dan Simmons.
Putting the cherry on the PREserker banana split sundae was the band Service. Littering the stage with noise punk sensibilities, they jumped around the stage and riled up the diehards who hung out until the end. It is too bad a few folks had left as this band was great. I envisioned Melt-Banana and The Jesus Lizard throwing a party in your head as I listened and watched this band perform.
PREserker was a tasty sampler of extreme music foreshadowing more to come at Berserker. Each band performance was solid with a lively crowd that appreciated the music. If you left Small’s not feeling primed for the main event, it was your own damn fault.