9:30 Club; Washington, DC; February 16, 2006

Reviewed by Ray Van Horn Jr.

One of the hottest metal tickets in a still-young 2006 is In Flames with Trivium, Devildriver and Zao lending support. A sold-out crowd curled around V and 8th Streets at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC well before the doors opened, largely represented by a massive In Flames contingency.  Everyone would be treated to a memorable evening of diverse metal that saw very little standing around.  In fact, a young fan was ejected for his overzealous plunge from the balcony into the throng below, prompting an intriguing drama outside of the venue that took much of the heat off the scalpers lurking about.  That’s how emotionally powerful this quartet of bands was to its audience this evening.

While the toast of the tour is undoubtedly In Flames, who put on the most precise and convincing metal display I’ve seen in almost a year, it was Devildriver that delivered the most rousing.  Zao was more sonic than when I caught them last year with Misery Signals, Every Time I Die and Dillinger Escape Plan, while Trivium’s modern tour de force Ascendancy took a backseat to a wicked Dimebag Darrell tribute belted out from two of metal’s guitar maestros, Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu.  When Devildriver took the stage, it took only seconds before the bodies tumbled across hands and the bouncers had their own paws full. 

Close to frontman Dez Fafara in the photography pit, I hurried after the former Coal Chamber crooner as he paced rapidly about the stage, blaring into his microphone while bassist Jon Miller swung his long mane in maniacal revolutions.  Exhibiting a confidence from a band that might as well consider themselves bona fide road dogs, Devildriver pummeled out their set, which was heavily skewed towards the band’s first album.  If there was any complaint, it was the less equitable distribution on the playlist to include songs from Devildriver’s brilliantly aggressive sophomore album The Fury of Our Makers Hand.  Expecting a tempest of thrash and settling for a tonal metallic explosion of the band’s earlier material, I was still impressed with Devildriver’s bombastic panache.

As the crowd went berserk over “I Could Care Less,” it seemed to excite Fafara, who took minor pauses between songs to thank the crowd and to proudly blare how Devildriver was “never going to sell out.”  In some ways, this loud declaration was unnecessary, as if Fafara is still to this day trying to exorcise himself completely from Coal Chamber.  In another, it was a Manowar death-to-false-metal moment, minus the beer and the topless airheads gallivanting around the stage.  Take it as you will.

As Fafara called for a floor-wide circle pit, he mocked the chop-sockeying screamo and hardcore fans whose idea of pit stylistics is akin to a karate movie so bad even The Next Karate Kid seems like a masterpiece.  The fans obliged him, especially under the pretense of being filmed for an upcoming Devildriver video.  They pushed and collided, though they missed their best opportunity to cut loose during the mosh stanza.  Ahh, kids today…too bad we veteran fans are too old and busted up from years past to show them how it’s done.

I had the opportunity to spend a few impromptu minutes with bassist Jon Miller before In Flames took the stage, and I enjoyed his hospitality and willingness to do an off-the-cuff interview.  If you’re reading this bro, the parking lot closure and the fuzz chasing people off the streets prevented us from hooking up for that listening session to the new Venom disc.  Sorry, mang, another day hopefully.

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Copyright © 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:15 -0400.