The Monster Energy Outbreak Tour made a stop at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, TN on December 14 and it was definitely a night to remember and well worth the three-hour drive it took to get to the show.
The night began with Atlanta, Georgia’s own Attila (Artery Recordings). If you want to start a show off with a resounding BOOM, this is the band to do it for you. Attila came out of the gates strong with their first song “Rage” and carried that consistency throughout their entire set. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect live from this self-proclaimed party band, but I was impressed by the way vocalist Chris Fronzak commanded the stage with just the right amount of confidence that a frontman should possess. What Fronzak does, he does capably and his showmanship skills make up for any vocal range limitations he may have. Attila put on a solid set with several songs off of both Rage (2010) and Outlawed (2011). They also included a new track from their yet untitled CD, which is expected to be released some time in 2013, called “Party with the Devil.” Helmed by Fronzak this song has balls with a huge dose of Attila’s rhythm section magic. The song is aptly titled because those bass lines are so heavy they sound like they are coming from the bowels of hell itself. I was already a fan of the new song, but hearing the track live put it on a whole different level, live it is even more wickedly powerful. Fronzak brought their set to a close with one of their most popular songs “Payback” and with plenty of audience participation, this set ended on a high note. But don’t count the Fronz out for the evening just yet, we will get to that more later on.
I See Stars
Next up was I See Stars (Sumerian Records) an electronicore/post-hardcore band from Michigan. The qunitet got the high honor of sitting in for Suicide Silence after the tragic loss of Mitch Lucker. This band released their first CD 3-D in 2009, but admittedly the first I heard of these guys was from the drama surrounding their departure from The Thug in Me is You Tour, so I wasn’t very familiar with their musical catalog. I See Stars is fronted by Devin Oliver (clean vocals) and Zach Johnson (harsh vocals) and a majority of their set consisted of songs from their 2012 release Digital Renegade. They put on a high energy show with Zach Johnson channeling The Lord of the Dance including a mix of old school 80’s Running Man with a dash of pelvic thrusts, let’s just say it’s hard to put those moments into words and leave it at that. This band does have good beats, catchy hooks and lyrics, not to mention their pretty boy looks. Believe me when I say that it was very obvious that the scene kids love this band and ate every second of their set up, fan frenzy indeed. I See Stars did put on a solid performance even if I felt that they had a little more arrogance than they deserved, in my opinion anyway.
Memphis May Fire
The Texas band Memphis May Fire (Rise Records) hit the stage and let me say, they are a great live band. The bulk of their set was off of their latest CD, Challenger, but they also performed “The Sinner” and “The Victim” from their 2011 release, The Hallow. From their first song “Without Walls” to their final song “Prove Me Right” their set was completely entertaining. Lead singer Matty Mullins vocals were excellent and I was honestly impressed by their performance. I have absolutely nothing to critique here, these guys work well together and you would have never known that guitarist Anthony Sepe has only been with the band since April of this year. If you aren’t a fan of Memphis May Fire, go see them live, you will be.
As I Lay Dying
It was obvious to me that there was some significant crowd anticipation for the next band, San Diego’s own As I Lay Dying (Metal Blade Records). AILD is very familiar with the stage releasing their first CD Beneath the Encasing of Ashes in 2001 and once they were in front of the crowd it was down to business and they know how to handle their business. Frontman Tim Lambesis has an intimidating presence in not only the gruffness of his vocals, but also in his physique; it certainly looks like the man has picked up a weight or two. I have much respect for AILD and all that they mean to the metal scene. As I Lay Dying’s music is hard, powerful and brutally intense. They are a little bit too heavy for this reviewer, but everything about them commands respect. They played songs covering the span of their career hitting pretty much something off of each of their albums from the aforementioned Beneath the Encasing of Ashes to their 2012 release Awakened. They gave you a taste of everything they have. My favorite moment was their final song “The Sound of Truth” that had some very impressive clean vocals by bassist Josh Gilbert. All in all they put on a heavy show and if you are an AILD fan, you got what you came for with their performance.
The final act of the evening was the British band Asking Alexandria. I am making a full disclosure that I am a huge AA fan and I am not going to hide that fact. When I found out that AA was on the Outbreak Tour there was no question about whether I was going or not, it was going to happen. Unfortunately, not long before their Nashville performance vocalist Danny Worsnop injured his vocal cords and had been unable to sing. I was more than a little bit disappointed of finally getting to see Asking Alexandria live, but not with Danny fronting them. Even through adversity this band didn’t cancel shows, didn’t quit the tour, they got fill in vocalists to cover for Danny while recovering from his injury. Danny did make a very brief appearance on the stage and explained in a very hoarse voice what had happened and that the doctors had no idea when he would be able to fully sing again. Another punch in the gut, I was at least hoping to get to hear one song from Danny. I understand why he couldn’t sing, but it was still a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly want Danny to recover 100% and if he needs rest and time to heal, take it. I want him back on the stage singing his ass off like he was meant to be. Hopefully AA will find their way back into my neck of the woods again and I will get a concert do over, you hear that Asking Alexandria?
Now on to the performance, Asking Alexandria started their set with each member of the band coming out one at a time and the crowd was on their feet, screaming at the top of their lungs for each one that stepped on stage. In Danny’s absence Chris Fronzak of Attila, Devin Oliver and Zach Johnson of I See Stars and James Hart from the band Burn Halo (and the now disbanded Eighteen Visions) took over frontman duties for AA. Let me say this, I was entirely impressed by James Hart. I had never seen him perform with any of his bands, so my opinion of him live was a blank canvas and very quickly that canvas was full of color. James is a solid vocalist and damn good live and it was a pleasant surprise to say the least.
Chris Fronzak was just as confident fronting Asking Alexandria as he is fronting Attila. Fronz isn’t known for his clean vocals, so he did put his own vocal mark on AA’s songs. But I think he is allowed a little creative license under these circumstances. I think Fronz put his all into his performance.
I’m sure Devin and Zach were enjoying their time in AA’s frontman position as well and they worked that stage as hard as they possible could. I think Danny should be proud of the way these guys handled his spot in the band in his absence.
Overall, yes, some lyrics were missed or flubbed, but I think the guest vocalists did a great job under he circumstances. Most importantly the show did not get canceled and for that I am grateful. Fittingly the final song of the evening was “The Final Episode (Let’s Change the Channel)” and guitarist Ben Bruce invited a fan, Blaine McPherson, up on state to sing vocals. I am sure that is a night he will never forget.
So to sum up I had a fabulous time at the Monster Outbreak Tour, it was a great event, at a great venue and time seemed to fly by and the show was over before I knew it. I exited the venue content and with that familiar buzz in my ears that you have after concerts. The Outbreak Tour has now concluded and if you missed it, you missed one fucking excellent time.
~ Dedication ~
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Mitch Lucker. As we are all aware Suicide Silence was scheduled to be on the Outbreak Tour this year, but tragically vocalist Mitch Lucker died in a motorcycle accident not long before the tour was to begin. Losing Mitch has been a devastating loss to the metal scene and to those who knew and loved him. During Asking Alexandria’s set, and out of respect for Mitch, a banner was displayed honoring their lost friend. AA left the stage and Suicide Silence’s “You Only Live Once” blasted through the auditorium. The stage empty except for Mitch in the background and his music filling the air and our hearts, a very potent moment of the evening, RIP Mitch Lucker, you will be missed.
“With every breath you take, you’re dying.
With every step we take we’re falling apart.
If we only had one chance we’d breathe,
So let’s take this chance right now and scream.
You only live one life, for a very short time.
So make every second divine.”