It was the opening night of the tour, so I was expecting some level of.... lateness. But the doors changed from 5PM to...7PM. Sweet baby apes.
Got to Empire around 7:15, figured I would have enough time to peek at merch before Hatchet. Not quite. People were still queued up and it took until about 7:29 to get in. Hatchet went on at 7:30 and sounded like a new thrash band- Havok/Bonded by Blood crossed with some old school Exodus. They were pretty decent sounding, but a bit rough/raw. I didn'tr eally hear anything unique about them. Not bad, but not memorable. Crowd reaction was pretty nil. I couldn't believe no one was starting a pit.
Bonded by Blood came on pretty shortly after, and hopefully Empire would keep up this punctual pace. They sounded about as good as last time, which was good. comapted to Hatchet, they were a bit tighter on stage. I think there was a small pit for one song. Again a lukewarm reaction from the decent crowd had me scratching my head.
Blackguard, movin on up in the world it seems, was on next and started off with an intro that was surprisingly not Tephra. Firefight sounded kinda horrible, but after that the sound was corrected. THey played 2 new songs (one that was new new ('Rise')- with some particularly powerful drums/bass that reminded me of the awesome Destrophy production. The intro to that song sounded like the Imperial March). The crowd finally got moving for Blackguard, even if it was only a portion of the crowd. Apart from the new songs, they just played Firefight songs, predictably.
Jeff Loomis and his band took the stage nochalantly, then played thier all instrumental songs for about 40 minutes. At the end they just... stopped playing and the house lights came on. No vocal mics were even set up, it was so bizarre. He did have some stage presence, with some headbanging. He was shredding on par with a guitar god like George Lynch or Joe Satriani, I was def impressed. I did feel like some of his songs kind of flowed together and/or weren't very distinctive, so that kind of made part of his set not as enjoyable. The crowd was still lukewarm- there was some headbanging, but it kind of subsided as the set went on. I think all the instrumentals kind of killed any momentum started by Blackguard.
Up to about now, things were only about 5 minutes off, but things were going on, and Soilwork ended up going on at 11:30 instead of 11:00 (30 minutes late). During this time we noticed that Jeff Loomis was at the merch and a short line/no line. So I was like, lemme get a CD and a picture. So we did. I asked him if he actually talked, as on stage he was SILENT. He chuckled and said not much but yes he does talk. in the midst of setting up for a photo, he was asked by someone to sign a Soilwork sticker. WHICH HE DID. So ridiculous. Got a kinda fuzzy pic, and shook his hand. Cool guy.
was strangely weak, except for a pocket of Blackguard fans and a few Jeff Loomis followers, until Soilwork. It was a little unnerving to see a couple thrash bands and no one moshing.
Soilwork had a ton of stuff- shirts, hoodies, work shirt, CDs, Vinyl of new album, what looked like a tour book but that was allegedly a comic book (!?!?!)- a bit expensive for $12, stickers, flag, and maybe a couple other things.
Bonded by Blood had shirts n CDs
Hatchet had shirts n their new CD, and some more expensive shirts or something and some panties or shorts ($40?), not really sure what they were.
Blackguard had the same merch set up as they had last time, same shirts, CDs (but not their latest one?), etc.
Jeff Loomis had a few shirts (including one 'Walking Dead' limited edition of 100 allegedly). His first solo CD ($10), picks, autographed posters. Also strange that he did not have his most recent solo album- and def not the tour version I saw advertized on Amazon.
FINALLY, Soilwork came on, and the crowd that was there at that late hour (it was thinning) got way active. The people who were unresponsive to the other bands showed who they were here for. The crowd seemed younger and pretty rowdy. Soilwork's vocals sounded great- the clean vocals sounded the best. I didn't recognize a few songs, as I forgot how many albums they have. They played several songs from their new double album, but there didn't seem to be a big focus on it. At one point they asked 'WHO HAS THE NEW ALBUM...' and started playing an intro off of it...over the PA. I was like 'who has the new album.... we are going to play it now...over the PA!" It was kind of silly. Overall a very dynamic show, despite a couple songs kind of running into each other (probably mostly based on me not knowing what they'll play live).
Some songs sounded like the drums and bass were a bit louder than they should have been IMO.
Bjorn looked like a Swedish seal and seemed to command the crowd pretty well. There were a couple tiny girls in the pit, getting tossed around a little bit. One of them hit the ground what looked like pretty hard, but bounced back up, unscathed. There was also a blond girl w/ long curly hair and a lce top lookin like (old) Taylor Swift and was preacriously close to the pit and 2 roving beefy moshers. Of COURSE one of them SLAMS into her, knocking her into the people in front of her. Her bf tries to shield her after that and has this look on his face. and I have this smile on my face and am thinking 'have you BEEN to heavy show before?'.
They played the whole allotted time and it didn't seem THAT long. I was def pretty tired, and coulda done w/out their couple minute encore break, but hey we were already there after midnight, whats a few minutes more?
The rowdy crowd of um... more muscled + tatted... probably intoxicated... white FFDP lookin fans were a bit more rambuncious- one guy got in a choke hold, another pushed a dude on the floor with one push. Surprisingly no one was bent out of shape, but security had to step up anyways.
Note- the guy did not tap out.
A really good time, even if it ran a bit late. I was there for like 5 hrs. That's $5 for each hour, or $5 per band. Not bad if you look at it that way. Well worth the price of admission. Not a bad showing for a Tuesday night!
Announced Set times from Empire
7:30 - 8:00 Hatchet
8:20 - 8:50 Bonded By Blood
9:05 - 9:35 Blackguard
9:55 - 10:40 Jeff Loomis
11:00 - 12:15 Soilwork
Bonded by Blood
Me and Jeffery Loomis
Hatchet (7:30- 8:00)
- Dawn of the the End
- Vanishing Point
Bonded by Blood (8:20- 8:54)
- I Can't Hear You
- Another Disease
- Immortal Life
- Crawling in the Shadows
- The Aftermath
- Restless Mind
- Left Behind
Blackguard (9:13- 9:43)
- Intro (Not Tephra)
- In Dreams
- Rise (New song)
- Fear of All Flesh
Jeff Loomis(10:01- 10:42)
- ?(I think it may have been Sibylline Origin)
- Miles of Machines
Soilwork (11:30- 12:45)
- This Momentary Bliss
- Like the Average Stalker
- Spectrum Of Eternity
- Weapon of Vanity(allegedly first time live)
- Figure Number Five
- Black Star Deceiver
- Intro ( I think this was Entering Aeons)
- Long Live The Misanthrope
- Let This River Flow
- Final Fatal Force
- Stabbing the Drama
- Possessing the Angels (allegedly first time live since 1999)
- One With the Flies
- Rise Above The Sentiment
- As We Speak
- Late for the Kill, Early for the Slaughter