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The Revolver Golden Gods Tour opens with impressively heavy bill in Iron City
Review by David Feltman
BIRMINGHAM–The Revolver Golden Gods Tour boasts an impressively heavy bill with enough variety to intrigue most metal fans. And the sold out show certainly attracted a broad spectrum of fans to Iron City on May 2nd. Kids in makeup and dyed hair stood alongside grizzled, leather-clad bikers in a line that wrapped around the block.
The doors opened at 7:30 pm, and by 7:50 pm, as people were still funneling into the venue, Butcher Babies had already played and left the stage. The quick show was a disappointment for those interested in enjoying what is normally a visceral performance. While the band’s thrashy nu-metal (or “neo thrash”) tendencies aren’t particularly appealing, the band’s energy on stage is irresistible. Butcher Babies exploits a simple but effective gimmick, having its two attractive, half-naked and gore-covered vocalists jump around the stage and scream their heads off. Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey are magnetic personalities in spite of the trashy concept, and their dynamic vocals are the bedrock of the band. The duo dominated the little space allotted them on stage amid the covered Black Label gear, but most concertgoers had only just glimpsed them before the band departed the stage.
The setup time for Devil You Know took longer than Butcher Babies entire set. The newly formed super group, comprised of members from Killswitch Engage, Fear Factory and All Shall Perish, is probably the least known member on the bill. But the band’s pedigree is certainly enough of a draw. Sadly, Devil You Know’s brand of metalcore sounded as dated and derivative as the Butcher Babies neo thrash, but the band lacked the spectacle or the enthusiasm on stage to make the lackluster performance forgivable. Howard Jones did little more to stir the ambivalent crowd than walk in circles and clap his hand in the air a couple of times. The performance got progressively worse with off key harmonies and dull riffs, but was mercifully brief.
Down came next and, ever the consummate front man, Phil Anselmo, expertly broke the lull left by Devil You Know. Anselmo’s rapport with his fans is something to be envied; in just a matter of moments he had the crowd at his command. When he trotted out favorites like “Witchtripper” and “Bury Me in Smoke,” Iron City erupted. The lethargic audience was suddenly a whirlwind of fights, moshes, crowd surfers and weed smoke, as if Anselmo’s mere presence was enough to incite a riot. Security guards were taxed during the performance, constantly lunging in and out of the crowd to quell violence and cart off stage hoppers.
Where Down invoked frenzy, Black Label Society invoked awe. Zakk Wylde’s appearance caused the audience to fall silent and push as tightly as possible along the foot of the stage. Reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s live show, the band broke out smoke machines and colored lights forming pentagrams around Wylde, while the band played as long and has hard as they wanted on any given song. Wylde would jam on a song an extra four or five minutes, but at the first sign of fatigue from his fans he would deftly change gears and pull the audience back in. It was apparent the other bands on the bill were rushed off, Down was only allotted 40 minutes, so Black Label Society could stretch out and deliver a headliner worthy performance.
Despite its inadequate beginning, The Golden Gods Tour delivered on the back end. The twin powerhouses of Down and Black Label Society wiped away any disappointment from the opening acts and sent fans home well-sated on it’s metal smorgasbord. For anyone that likes heavy music served slow and sleazy, this is a tour you should not miss.