Review: Vader, Internal Bleeding, and More at the Brick by Brick
**SCROLL DOWN FOR GALLERY**
When it comes to Vader’s rather infrequent tours around the U.S., the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder” comes to mind. Even though I personally haven’t seen Vader invade the West Coast of the United States since 2012, it only made me more hopeful for the next year. Or the next one. Ok, maybe this year. Fast forward to 2017, Vader’s Strike of the Empire tour brought eager and, dare I say, fond-hearted death metal fans to stages all across America. Brick by Brick proved once again to be the perfect gathering space for a motley bunch of brutal headbangers.
I unfortunately missed Micawber and Voices of Ruin; but I’ve seen the latter enough times to know you need to see them at least once, especially if you’re a fan of local bands. A flock of metal bandits (and myself) flooded in just in time for Sacrificial Slaughter’s set. If you’ve never heard of Sacrificial Slaughter, think about them as a death-thrash combination lying somewhere in between Vital Remains and Evile. Their old school albums have a great selection of tunes (not such a huge fan of this year’s EP), but I couldn’t really tell most of them apart. There was some muddy sound quality going on, but beyond that, there was very little energy flourishing besides the awesome efforts of frontman Steve Worley. I also found it mildly unsettling at how poorly dressed the majority of the members were. I get when gym/beach shorts become part of your attire, but own it with some kick-ass tunes at least! Unfortunately, their set fell a little short for me. There just wasn’t a good amount of physical presence or musical mojo this time.
Internal Bleeding left me utterly speechless, in the best way possible. I had known a couple of the guys in the band were tight with Suffocation (who’s kidding who, what metal band in NY wouldn’t be close to the Suffo boys?), but I did not expect to get stunned by the musical equivalent of Stone Cold Austin. Between the ground-pounding echoes of the percussion (Kyle, Bill Tolley is smiling down at you), the grimy vocals, the fatal dynamic duo that was the guitar and bass, these all-around aurally sadistic arrangements of slam metal couldn’t possibly be created by just anybody. You gotta have Long Island balls to make that kind of music.
Much like some Rebel Troopers experienced in Rogue One, we didn’t have to wait long to get completely decimated by Vader. When you open with arguably the best song on Litany, you know this show’s about to get LIT(any). All metal dad jokes aside, I know I wasn’t the only one in the crowd who was bestowed with the gifts of “Sothis” and “One Step to Salvation.” It was a pleasant surprise to hear so many old school hits executed so succinctly in front of your eyes. Piotr hasn’t lost that youthful fire that keeps Vader’s songs so brutally alluring. Spider and Hal have added an exciting dimension to the band’s live sound, and without them, Vader would suffer greatly. And let’s not even think about what would happen if it weren’t for the virility of drummer prodigy Jimmy Stewart.
Vader closed out what was one of the most exceptional concerts of the year for me so far. Even though I thought Internal Bleeding beat out Vader for the strongest on-stage presence and overall experience (pulling people on stage…good move!), Vader annihilated the city of San Diego with unbridled ferocity in their tone, synchronicity, and song selection.