Talk about two loud bands touring together. My ears buzzed after this show, but it was well worth it. Dez Fafara and crew rolled into the Baltimore Soundstage on a Monday night and blew the doors off the place, well, what was left of them. My day job unfortunately did not allow me to see the three opening bands of Azreal, The Agonist, and Winds of Plague, so I cannot review what I did not see; I do apologize to those bands.
Death Angel took the stage and it was like I was in a time warp. 2012 was the last time they played Baltimore, but before that, for die-hard fanatics, it was way back in 1999 at the old Network in Pasadena. Yes, I was present for that show, long hair and all.
A portion of the instrumental “The Ultra-Violence” started things off and led right into “Evil Priest.” Wow. These guys meant business right out of the gate. “Claws in So Deep” off of 2010’s Relentless Retribution was next. Lead singer Mark Osegueda’s voice has never sounded better. He has not only gotten better with age, but his vocals are much more defined and heavy. “Thrown to the Wolves,” the longest song of the evening, was so guitar heavy with Ted Aguilar and the only remaining founder Rob Cavestany dueling back and forth. Their new album, The Evil Divide, was represented as well with “Father of Lies” and “The Moth,” which unfortunately was the last song for them for the night. Now I know they weren’t the headliners, but I would have loved for Death Angel to play the rest of the evening. Eight songs were just not enough for me and I do hope they come back to Charm City again without such large hiatuses.
DevilDriver hit Baltimore again quickly after a successful tour last year with Hatebreed. However, a new tour with new bands leads to new opportunities to destroy. DD opened up with “End of The Line” and “Grinfucked” from The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand with “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” sandwiched between. From there, the bar raised. “Cry for Me Sky,” “Daybreak” and “I Could Care Less” led up to our first taste of the new record. “My Night Sky” from 2016’s Trust No One kept up the tempo well and kept the feel but it wasn’t long before DD went right back to an oldie but goodie in “Hold Back the Day.” “Sail” followed and I found that to be an interesting choice to put in the set. It’s an Awolnation cover and it doesn’t lack any of that Devildriver intensity, but it is a slower song in its delivery so it was pretty cool to watch how it fit in the set and the crowd’s reaction. The final four songs were highlighted by the closing songs “Ruthless” and “Meet the Wretched.” They dropped the hammer down and gave the crowd every opportunity to let everything out and go home spent.
One of the things that I couldn’t help but notice was the unity that DevilDriver had onstage. While front man Dez Fafara is the only original member left, he has done an excellent job putting together a worthy band with Austin D’Amond on drums, Neal Tiemann and Mike Spreitzer on guitars. I do have to acknowledge bassist Diego “Ashes” Ibarra who was terrific. He was not with the band for the recording of the new record but he was picked up for the tours. He’s a keeper. His playing is so sharp and he works the stage very well.
Jay Oakley contributed to this article.