It’s clear that metal is not dead in Upstate New York as Black Label Society lead the Revolver Golden Gods Tour along with Down, Devil You Know, and Butcher Babies leveled Upstate Concert Hall to a sold out crowd this past Monday night. This would mark the first time in roughly a decade that Black Label Society played at Upstate Concert Hall. The overall production was fantastic. The sound was incredible. The insanity was nonstop. And the concert security brought their A game as the old school metal fans unleashed their energy right back to the bands.
Doors opened a little late which may have hurt the opening set from Butcher Babies. Butcher Babies started their set at 7:23 as there still was a long line out the door. They played a 30 minute set with an overall positive crowd response and did a meet and greet at their merch table after their set.
Devil You Know graced the stage a little after 8. Devil You Know features former Killswitch Engage frontman Howard Jones, who made his return to the stage after retiring from music a few years back. Jones has never sounded better with his brutal vocals and charismatic stage presence. On top of that, Jones has rediscovered his passion for metal music and he made that clear to the crowd. Three songs into their set the mosh pit opened up the floor. The rest of the band was tight, brutal, and clearly having a good time on stage together. Their 30 minute set contained songs off their newly released debut album The Beauty of Destruction. No Killswitch material at all. I don’t think the crowd had a problem with that which proved how great the band was. Devil You Know is out to prove they are a force to reckon with.
Down started their heavy and hostile set that caused the floor to erupt. Mosh pits and body surfers galore. Phil Anselmo at his veteran status is clearly STILL the best frontman in metal. Still has the intimidating stage presence and brutal vocals that are always imitated but NEVER duplicated. New guitarist Pat Bruders replaced longtime guitarist Kirk Windstein, however, his guitar style and backing vocals were so clutch. If you were blind, you never would have known Down had a different lineup. The crowd erupted before Down got to their first song “Eyes of the South.” Most of their set consisted of songs from NOLA, with a very little newer material sprinkled into their set. They didn’t play anything from their upcoming EP Down IV Part Two. I would say “Lifer,” which the band dedicated to the late and great Dimebag Darrell was the highlight of the set. Down closed their set with the melodic “Stone the Crows” and the heavy trademark anthem “Bury Me in Smoke.” It was a damn shame that Down only played for 45 minutes. If you were present at this show, some may argue that Down could have headlined.
Zakk Wylde and the newly revamped line up of Black Label Society swarmed the stage around 10:30 opening with their latest single “My Dying Time.” Wylde, one of the best guitarist in music and the king of pinch harmonics used many different guitars throughout the set including his trademark Bullseye Les Paul, the Randy Rhoads Flying V, Hybrid Flying V/Les Paul, and Gibson EDS 1275 double neck guitar. The production of their set was amazing with use of laser lights and smoke machines to really make the experience a huge spectacle which captured everyone’s attention because there were no more mosh pits. Half way through the set, Wylde unleashed a powerful seven minute long guitar solo that really showcased his fast shredding ability. A couple of songs later, they went into the mellower songs starting with “Angel of Mercy” with new guitarist (who Wylde jokingly claimed to the crowd that they traded 3 first round draft picks to Lizzy Borden to get him) Dario Lorina hopped on the piano that really showcased the entire bands talent. Soon after, Lorina switched to lead guitar and Wylde sat behind the piano for a really powerful rendition of Black Label Society’s most iconic ballad “In This River.” It was really moving to hear both of those ballads back to back. Then Wylde unleashed the Gibson EDS 1275 double neck guitar to play the fan favorite “The Blessed Hellride.” Black Label Society unleashed a swarm of Black Label beach balls into the crowd during the super-heavy “Suicide Messiah” and “Concrete Jungle” before closing the entire set with “Stillborn.” Overall, one of the best shows from Black Label Society. There was no encore or a Pantera jam with Phil Anselmo.
This concert was by far one of the best metal tours of the year. Hopefully the capital region won’t have to wait another decade for Black Label Society to slay the Upstate Concert Hall again.