Chris Loomis

DevilDriver & Trivium @ The Observatory – 12/15/2013

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Devildriver @ The Observatory – 12/15/2013All good things must come to an end . . . and on an 80 degree December Sunday DevilDriver and Trivium played the last date of the 2nd leg of their fall North American tour at The Observatory in Santa Ana. Playing over 60 shows since the first leg of this tour began back in early September both DevilDriver and Trivium have destroyed concert halls across America. Along for the ride on this part of the trek are Minnesota heavy metallers After the Burial and east coast thrashers Thy Will Be Done.

The Observatory welcomed seven additional local bands on this day and opened the doors to the venue at 2:00pm in the afternoon to give the local metal scene an opportunity to shine prior to the evening’s main attraction. At 7:00pm sharp the lights went black and Providence Rhode Island’s finest Thy Will Be Done hit the stage fast and furious and definitely set the tempo for the remainder of the night. Vocalist J Costa instantly had the crowd going insane as he ran around the stage like a madman delivering his vocals without missing a beat. The circle pits were as intense as the show Thy Will Be Done was delivering. Familiar with the band or not Santa Ana sure gave Thy Will Be Done a warm welcome and the band certainly gave a performance that would be hard to follow. After the Burial definitely had their work cut out for them following Thy Will Be Done but stood up to the challenge delivering their own flavor of groove based brutality. Singer Anthony Notarmaso led the charge anchored by his two seven string axe slingers Justin Lowe and Trent Hafdahl playing a neon green and neon pink Ibanez respectively. Again the crowd never let up keeping the circle pit going while body surfing to the front of the stage started. After the Burial’s new album Wolves Within hits stores on December 17th.

After a 15 minute intermission to allow for the DevilDriver stage set to be completed the now packed venue became loud and unruly as the lights went out and Mr. Crowley blasted over the PA. The band walked onstage one by one with drummer John Boecklin taking a seat behind his kit with the Winter Kills album artwork on each bass drum as the beginning chords of ‘End of the Line’ started 70 minutes of groove driven aggressive brutality  delivered as only DevilDriver can. Dez Fafara wasted no time in getting the Observatory crowd into a circle pit frenzy as he belted out his raspy vocals while prowling the stage. You would never know this was the last night of an almost 3 month tour consisting of 2 runs and over 60 shows as Fafara and the band were firing on all cylinders and pouring out a high level of energy matched in return by the crowd intensity.

The band played four songs off the recent release Winter Kills with the first being ‘Oath of the Abyss’. The dual guitar attack of Jeff Kendrick and Mike Spreitzer defines the heaviness of DevilDriver and both of them released a six string attack that will melt your ears but needs to be witnessed live to be truly appreciated. The highlight of the night was the song ‘Sail’ – a cover song originally played by AWOLNATION. Fafara gave a touching intro to the song stating that when he first heard the song played by one of his sons, the lyrics really hit home as the song describes someone with A.D.D. questioning his existence. He stated “if anyone knows parents that have their kids on Ritalin – get them off it, don’t fuck up their lives as they are the smart ones”. The song went over well live even at its slower pace the crowd never let the circle pit die down and Mike Spreitzer served up a killer solo as well for this song as well.

New bassist Chris Towning fit in well with the live show as he anchored the sonic boom in every song along with John Boecklin pounding his drum-kit in machine-gun like fashion. Towards the end of the show Fafara took a moment to let those in attendance know what day it was  . . . it was the last night of the tour and the best night of all as after tonight he and the rest of the band get to go home to their families and sleep in their own bed! The band then went into ‘Clouds Over California’ which had a few of the members of Thy Will Be Done come out and jam with DevilDriver at the end of the song.

The madness ended with ‘Meet the Wretched’ off the first DevilDriver record and Fafara was sure to pour some gasoline onto the fire so-to-speak and got the circle pit and bodies flying during this last song. The band thanked everyone and gave a bow and exited the stage. The Observatory was destroyed by DevilDriver but the night was not over yet.

Trivium hit the stage at 10:00pm to a slightly thinned out crowd but just like Devildriver came out with all guns blazing even after a long tour. The band led by singer and guitarist Matt Heafy delivered 60 minutes of crushing guitar driven melodic thrash metal. Along with Heafy, screaming vocalist and guitarist Corey Beaulieu are one of the premier guitar duos in metal today often trading leads and blasting out dual guitar harmonies. Drummer Nick Augusto layed down some pummeling beats while Paolo Gregoletto displayed his bass skills holding the tempo with Augusto. After three intense bands somehow the crowd still had energy left to not disappoint Trivium and keep the circle pit and body surfing as active as when Thy Will Be Done hit the stage hours prior. Heafy sang with as much intensity as he put into his guitar playing which resulted in an extremely high energy show to end this tour. Also out touring in support of a new release Vengeance Falls Trivium fit in two songs from this record  ‘Brave This Storm’ and ‘Strife’ which blended in nicely with songs from their previous efforts.

As initially stated all good things must come to an end and this tour ended with an explosive bang! DevilDriver, Trivium, After the Burial and Thy Will Be Done delivered an amazing show to the fans in Santa Ana. With 2013 having so many great extreme metal tour packages this tour was one to be seen from start to finish. Each band will be resting up the remainder of this year and hopefully each one will be on the road again to destroy in 2014.

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