I've been following Battlecross for over a year now, ever since I saw them open for In Flames last February. They now have two solid melodeath/thrash albums under their belts, but the live show is where these guys truly stand out. Battlecross is a group of old-school road dogs and it seems like they are out on tour more often they are not. They just wrapped up their first European tour last week and now they're back on the road in the States for a solid 3 months. I'm guessing that the grueling touring cycle allows for these guys to continue to operate on stage as a well-oiled machine.
Culling mostly from their most recent offering, War of Will, the Detroit thrashers dug into the trenches and delivered an absolute monster performance. Duel lead axemen Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala shredded their faces off and kept the windmill hair going on for most of the set, which is always fun. The two are at their absolute best when they lock in on a melodic interlude. I'm honestly not sure who's even drumming for Battlecross these days, but he held his own, pumping out insanely fast double bass beats throughout. Frontman Gumby Gunther has learned how to own the stage and he's become one of the most powerful voices in modern thrash metal. I don't know how he coaxes those low roars out of his impossibly thin frame. Don Slater is one of the most ridiculous bass players out there right now, and his stellar album work is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his ferocious attack. The bass wasn't very high up in the mix, but just by watching Slater, you get the point. He's non-stop and I have no idea how he manages to hit all the notes with his wild playing. He's an absolute force of nature, and worth the price of admission alone.
Unfortunately, Battlecross was not the headliner and this was not even a metal show. Their set was cut to an unconscionable 35 minutes, closing out with "Push, Pull, Destroy", the breakthrough hit from their first Metal Blade release, Pursuit of Honor. I'm not sure how Battlecross ended up on a tour full of weak emo bands, but they absolutely owned the stage and I hope they'll be back on a better tour and with a longer set sooner than later. Only about a third of the already sparse crowd was there specifically to see Battlecross, but they were the vocal majority when the band was on stage and I think that speaks for the thirst for live metal in the Tri-State area. I know I'm ready for more. Let's make it happen.