The 2016 KILLFEST tour finally arrived in Belfast. For the very eager fans, this was a night to break into a sweat and all for the love of OVERKILL. This was their first time in Belfast, and about time too. The New Jersey thrashers didn’t hold back as they unloaded more than 35 years of neck wrecking, cranium smashing music, whooping Belfast’s ass red raw! They also came flanked by only the best in the guise of Poland’s premier death metal band VADER, and ONE MACHINE-OFFICIAL, created by guitarist Steve Smyth – ex TESTAMENT etc. Yes, OVERKILL sure didn’t do things by half, both barrels were fully loaded.
ONE MACHINE with their heavy progressive metal, hit that stage kicking and screaming, like a new born finding his lungs for the first time; and what a set of lungs front man Chris Hawkins does possess. The set may have been short, but it certainly wasn’t sweet. The ceiling paint stripping vocals rang out angry and passionate to a privy few, as the venue hadn’t quite managed to entice the punters in from next door’s bar at this early stage of the night. Not waiting for any invitations though, Steve Smyth and Co. belted out the fast and brutally melodic ‘Forewarning’, encouraging a few bodies to move forward with nods of approval to join the impressive mass of hair flailing across the stage.
Title track of the new album, ‘The Final Cull’ is a filthy yet beautiful offering full of mesmerizing solos with a classically symphonic vibe. The crowd showed much appreciation. By the time the lads reached their final song, I almost felt sorry for them as it was clear that they were enjoying themselves and didn’t want to leave judging by the numerous chats the very funny Chris had with the audience. ONE MACHINE had warmed up and was looking way too comfortable to go anywhere, but alas the mammoth sounding ‘Screaming For Light’ brought their show to a close; a fantastic band with copious amounts of talent and potential. This is definitely one band that I would like to see back here in the head lining position. They came. They saw. They conquered. That is all.
VADER changed the atmosphere. Their deathly sound rang out, and as they opened with ‘Wings’ it was as if the ground opened up and their minions appeared from Hades itself to fill the venue, akin to a scene from a zombie movie. A very impressive band and James Stewart (drummer) went into fast forward, popping eyes and causing gasps from the onlookers, while Piotr let out a pain stricken scream and immediately had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Although the talk of the town was that this was an OVERKILL night, VADER fans were easy to spot as they turned into a sea of wind-milling hair and fists in the air. ‘Go To Hell’ wasted no time convincing the punters that they were indeed in the presence of an imposing entity. ‘Reborn In Flames’ started off delightfully melodic and then became a beast of mesmerizing and jaw dropping riffing, filled with sleek solos that just sent the crowd mental.
30 plus years in this game for VADER was clearly evident as tune after tune was delivered with incredible – tight precision. ‘Sothis’ got a full set of muscled arms equipped with mighty horns, and the bloodcurdling and gut removing bellows of ‘Carnal’ caused more than a little chaos, as it seemed that the still very well behaved crowd could no longer contain themselves. Connections with the crowd were by now well bonded and guitarist Pajak and bassist Hal played up to the chants and obvious worship from the fans. The venue still not quite packed out however, didn’t deter this killing machine from continuing the pace at which they hurled the overwhelming massacre at the crowd with ‘Triumph Of Death’ and the brutal ‘Come See My Sacrifice’. I still don’t know how drummer James Stewart made it to the end of the set at the speed he plays, without passing out. The crowd around me continually singing or rather screeching his praises of not only the speed, but the technicality and sheer entertainment of watching him play, which was made easier because his kit was placed front-right of stage.
I reckon we were all blown away by the ferocity of this set that was a continual bombardment from beginning to end, ‘Dark Age’ has a damn catchy riff and the drum kit took a serious pummelling with sticks and feet, breaking the sound barrier the whole way through ‘Cold Demons’. A personal highlight for yours truly was the amazing harmonic and tremlo work from both guitarists which pricked up every set of ears in total allegiance during ‘Helleluyah’ (God Is Dead) which ended a consistently brilliant and fantastic set from VADER.
(Let’s just rewind for a minute now, before all the above excitement took place)
Before the tour Bobby ‘Blitz’ had this to say, “We are happy to announce we are coming back to the UK to thrash it up with our cousins across the pond…Mark the dates and remember I’m easily disappointed!
While I was walking through the venue that Saturday night, before the show had started with the one and only Mr. Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth – shortly after I interviewed the great man himself – he turned to me and noted; “There aren’t many people”. For the love of Gawd, all I was thinking was, that sometimes the crowds (or the lack of) that go to these shows delight in scaring the hell out of touring bands. However, do not fear as I assured him that, if he built it, they would come. And come they did. The very light body count at the beginning of the night seemed to multiply like an aggressive virus throughout the venue, which was almost bursting at the seams before the end of the show. The man was NOT disappointed! (And we’re back!)
‘Armourist’-from the new album, ‘White Devil Armory’ introduces this colossal juggernaut to a hungry crowd who surge forward violently, crushing you know who tight to the barrier! Not that I’m complaining as I’m adoringly placed at the feet of ‘BLITZ’, I mean, where else would I be? The vibrations coming up from the floor were exhilarating as the lethal thrashing got underway. What a band, and this was only the first tune. The very enigmatic front man BOBBY ‘BLITZ’ ELLSWORTH and founder of OVERKILL, complete with unchanged raspy vocals embarked on a night many will not forget.
LINSK made himself a comfortable perch on a monitor and grinned incessantly at the audience throughout the show, not even batting an eyelid when rattling off solo after solo, and now and then flashing an even cheekier grin to the screaming front row that were killing each other to gain his attention. ‘Rotten To The Core’ and ‘Electric Rattlesnake’ weren’t doing the foundations of the Limelight any favours either, as all hell manic-moshing broke out and the first of the brave surfers thought they’d play body dodge ball with the bouncers as they went over the barrier! The charisma from OVERKILL alone could have wrecked the joint, but BOBBY wasn’t content enough with the mayhem he was provoking, and announced to the crowd, “I can’t hear you! But I can smell you!”
Unless everyone wants to read a novel which I could easily write from that night, I will skip dutifully ahead. The set list was an immaculate collection of old and new and was as hard working as this band has been over the last 35 years, with 19 tracks including 2 in the encore, spanning the entire catalogue; ‘Feel The Fire’, ‘Coma’, ‘Blood Money’ and ‘Infectious’ to name a few. A totally unselfish act I thought as they were here to please their fans and bring to them the dream OVERKILL show. I would love to be able to point out the highlight songs or the crowd pleasers, but to be honest every damn song was a highlight and a crowd pleaser as the reactions from the fans remained as buoyant and as boisterous as the one before.
The elation felt throughout the venue was an overwhelming happy vibe and it was clear the band noticed; DD Verni stepping up countless times to roaring applauds as he took centre stage by the scruff of the neck chugging intensely on every note delivered. The now 55 year old BOBBY wasn’t shy either about exclaiming to the crowd that he needs breathers, and left the other guys to entertain us furiously as he took mini breaks to the back of the stage throughout the show. This did not have any impact at all on the whole delivery; the venue was just a heaving mass of bodies and hair with the smell of sweat becoming overpowering at times. OVERKILL fans in Northern Ireland got their money’s worth I can tell you as there wasn’t a dry shirt in the place.
The encore consisted of ‘Elimination’ and ‘Fuck You’. Chants of OVER! KILL! OVER! KILL! were quite deafening so I was glad to see them come back out again, the lights rose, the crowd lost the plot, and it was like round 2! Belfast gave back as good as they got by singing along word for word to Mr. ‘BLITZ’ on every song and were rewarded further with picks and set lists at the end. (Ahem, I would like to point out however that BOBBYhanded his set list down to ME personally before he finished singing the last song!) The good time enjoyed by all will hopefully mean that the guys will dawn our shores again in the not so long distant future. Thank you OVERKILL for an awesome night.
Words by Brenda
Live Photography by Mark McGrogan
SET LIST: ONE MACHINE-OFFICIAL
THE DISTORTION OF LIES AND THE OVERDRIVEN TRUTH
SUMMONING OF THE SOUL
THE FINAL CULL
NEW MOTIVE POWER
SCREAMING FOR LIGHT
SET LIST: VADER
GO TO HELL
REBORN IN FLAMES
TRIUMPH OF DEATH
COME AND SEE MY SACRIFICE
HELLELUYAH!!! (GOD IS DEAD)
SET LIST: OVERKILL
ROTTEN TO THE CORE
HELLO FROM THE GUTTER
FEEL THE FIRE
BLOOD AND IRON
NICE DAY…FOR A FUNERAL
THANKS FOR NOTHIN’
RAISE THE DEAD