The Haunted, Municipal Waste - Lyon, France, 15 May 2007
|Event:||The Haunted: Cursed Earth Tour|
A night of fuckin' thrash my friends… In some countries that mere statement would attract throngs of long-haired, tattoo-covered, spike-wristed grunting guys (and girls) but not in France. No sir. In France, we love musicals, pop stars, greasy-haired brit pop bands, Crazy Frog and French Beyoncé-wannabes, but not thrash. How else could you explain that The Haunted, which I simple-mindedly took for a quite renowned band, did not even fill the CCO (stands for Centre Culturel Ścuménique in case you wonder) of Villeurbanne? At a quick glance, only about 150 fans gathered in the venue for one of the most famous Swedish thrash bands. I still can't believe it.
We were about thirty to be there from the beginning and thus to witness the show of locals Deadly Sins (that's one hell of an original name…). Their sound was crap, the singer found his microphone cut several times, every solo brought a massive larsen and the band mainly sounded like drums and bass only. Though, despite all the vagaries of being a local opening band, these guys were definitely not bad. Their groovy thrash, halfway between The Haunted and Hatesphere, was pretty catchy. Nothing original at all but I could pick up a lot of good ideas and cool riffs.
Then was Lyzanxia. Oddly enough since they are French and usually tour quite extensively across the country, this was the first time I ever saw them. I had my hopes set quite high because I like this band - especially their debut, Eden - but these hopes were quite rapidly crushed. The sound was bad again, but Lyzanxia just sucked. Both singers were awful, the attitude of some band members was nothing short of obnoxious and I just couldn't recognize their very special brand of industrial hardcorish thrash. Boring, boring, boring. I was certainly not alone in thinking that: the bar had more audience than the band. "I hope you support the French scene" said one of the guitarists… I usually do but that doesn't mean I can take all the crap you feed me by the sackful, my friend. A show to forget, 45 minutes of sheer boredom. Yet I hope to catch them again so I can change my mind. Because honestly, they're very good in studio.
Fortunately, Municipal Waste easily wiped my disappointment away. The spiritual sons of Cryptic Slaughter put up one hell of a good show. Their collection of one and a half minute-long songs blasted the venue. For about one hour, the spirit of American metal straight from the 80's invaded our little room. Judging by the looks of the people around me, Municipal Waste succeeded in reviving long-lost memories of when metal was all about fun, booze and banging your head. Fun, booze and headbanging were on the stage as well. At least some of the musicians were pretty drunk and drinking still. Just before playing on brand new song, "The Inebriator", they introduced us to the real inebriator: they called some guy from the audience onstage and made him drink a pint in one go from a funnel ("We play fast, you drink fast"). Anyway, Municipal Waste play fast, loud and well, there's nothing to ask for. They even managed to form a little moshpit, which is not that usual in France.
The sound was quite good for the first time of the night, and even though it was kind of repetitive - the purpose of crossover thrash is not to be the most creative genre - it was a highly enjoyable show to make me forget Lyzanxia and warm up for The Haunted. Besides, it's not often that you get to see US thrash bands outside Paris.
Last but not least, The Haunted got up onstage thirty minutes later. Things were on for about 75 minutes of very strange and emotional music. I've listened to The Dead Eye only a few times and found it ok but certainly not as good as their previous releases. The band based their show on this last album, which made me fear for the worse. However I was surprised to see that the songs off The Dead Eye are actually very good live. They are indeed more complex and less brutal than older songs and at the same time more emotional. The rest of the setlist mainly included songs from the previous two albums rEVOLVEr (No Compromise, 99, All Against All, Abysmal) and my favourite, One Kill Wonder (DOA, the instrumental Demon Eyes, Bloodletting). I didn't recognize very old songs from the first two albums, which was a slight disappointment as I yearned to see Hollow Ground live, for example. The setlist doesn't do all, The Haunted were extremely professional and the good sound perfectly conveyed all the little peculiarities of their thrash metal.
Though the main focus, for me at least, was the performance of Peter Dolving. I know this guy has serious issues of all sorts and I wondered what he would act like onstage. Well, Peter Dolving is simply possessed. When he arrived I thought he was so drunk he would fall off the stage. In fact, he seemed to be in his normal state. I've rarely seen someone so desperate-looking, so crazy-sounding. It was almost painful to see. But his haunted performance definitely took the show to another level. He made Abysmal even creepier than it was on album. The calm passages with clean vocals took on a commanding dimension. This was a very hypnotizing show, mainly due to this odd frontman.
In the end, although I regret that the setlist focused a bit too much on The Dead Eye and the absence of an encore, this was an amazing show. The thrash bits were brilliant, so were the backing vocals of Anders Björler, and The Haunted have a real presence onstage, if you know what I mean.
Big night, in spite of the utter disappointment of Lyzanxia's show. The Haunted, Municipal Waste and, to a lesser extent, Deadly Sins, really put up an enjoyable evening. The show was over by 11pm and I got back home on a bicycle. Good metal, cold beer, and twenty minutes of sports, I don't need more to feel a happy man.
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