Queensryche/Armored Saint/Death Angel: The Electric Ballroom, London
The Electric Ballroom, London. 6 August 2015
Veteran bay area thrash Metallers Death Angel love London. This is something that singer Mark Osegueda tells the crowd in Camden’s Electric Ballroom a lot over their short thirty minute set. Maybe too much as they could possibly have fitted in another song in that time and what we got was a tantalising glimpse of how good they can be.
Words and Photos: Ian Sutherland
Focusing mostly on material from post their 2001 reunion this seemed to make no difference to the crowd and they enjoyed their classic thrash sound. They sounded tight and together and have the necessary flair for writing the riffs which all thrash bands need to hang their songs on.
Outside of the love for the capital Osegueda acquits himself well as a frontman striking all the right poses and making all the right roaring vocal noises.
Overall this is a promising set from a band who know what they are doing. Thirty minutes isn’t really long enough to judge the strength in depth of their material but the crowd were warming to them fast and set closer ‘Thrown To The Wolves’ was regarded as a sure fire winner.
Armored Saint are another veteran US Metal band from the eighties but one who are far from regular visitors to UK shores so their appearance here was keenly anticipated.
Starting off with the title track from the new album ‘Win Hands Down’ and then following it up with classic track ‘March Of The Saint’ they get many appreciative nods from the crowd to their traditional Heavy Metal riffing. Somehow though to my ears the guitars sounded weak and lack the bottom end kick that the band’s riffs have on album.
Vocalist John Bush is as confident as a man of his experience should be but the ex Anthrax man cuts a low key presence on stage and vocally for me struggled to reach his best, sometimes resorting to shouting as much as singing.
Despite an entertaining visit to the top of the PA by Bush to deliver one song, by the time they get to the inevitable classic ‘Can U Deliver’ set closer I am left feeling rather underwhelmed by them. I didn’t enjoy the sound and the stage presence and when someone commented that it sounded like they just played one song for forty minutes it was hard to argue. Of course judging by the crowd reaction there will be many there who may disagree with me but I was truly disappointed by my first sighting of the Saint in action.
We found out later that the sound was messed up because the guitars and bass weren’t plugged in to the PA at the start of the set and the sound crew struggled to correct this error during the time the band were on stage.
I think most fans of Queensrÿche will be glad that all the legal recriminations over their split with long time lead singer Geoff Tate seem to be over at last and both parties can now carry on and focus on the future. For original members Eddie Jackson, Scott Rockenfield and Michael Wilton this means they get to keep the name and forge a new path for the band along with guitarist Parker Lundgren and ex Crimson Glory singer Todd La Torre.
The band have previously made it clear that they will mainly stick to the band’s classic earlier material live, and tonight from instrumental opener ‘Anarchy X’ they clearly keep to that mantra.
Opening song proper is ‘Nightrider’ taken from the band’s debut EP quickly followed by ‘Breaking The Silence’ and ‘Walk In The Shadows’ from ‘Operation Mindcrime’ and ‘Rage For Order’ respectively.
The band sound great from the off with the twin guitars of Lundgren and Wilton in full flow ably backed up by a classic heavy rock style rhythm section from Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield. The question from anyone there who, like me was seeing the band without Geoff Tate for the first time was what would Todd La Torre’s vocals be like?
The answer to that is pretty flawless actually. Seemingly able to reach those high notes with ease. La Torre did absolute justice to a string of ‘Ryche classics. He may not be the most charismatic front man in the world but his stage craft is certainly competent and with a band like this which has heritage and a classy back catalogue to deliver having a vocalist who cuts the mustard is the top priority to me.
It is a matter of public record that there are legal limitations on what each party after the split can play live. I’m not aware what those restrictions are on this line up but the set list included some unusual choices to say the least including four songs from full length debut ‘The Warning’. This was an equal number to those aired from the generally accepted classic album from the band in ‘…Mindcrime’. Much of the material aired such as epic ballad ‘Silent Lucidity’ seemed to be songs former guitarist Chris De Garmo had a hand in writing so maybe that’s the link between the tunes chosen.
Personally I love the first two album so was delighted to hear rare renditions of the likes of ‘NM156’ and ‘The Whisper’ alongside more expected classics such as ‘Eyes Of A Stranger’ and most of an excited crowd seemed to agree with me.
The band did air some more recent tunes too and ‘Where Dreams Go To Die’ from La Torre’s debut album with the band in 2013 sounded good but I thought ‘Arrow Of Time’ from the forthcoming ‘Condition Human’ album suffered a bit against the constant stream of well known songs around it.
A double encore of ‘Queen Of The Reich’ and ‘Take Hold Of The Flame’ was a very tasty way to end an excellent and enjoyable set from Queensrÿche. Within this trio of bands from the US with their origins in the eighties they were the clear winners in all categories including crowd reaction and numbers of people in the hall interested which certainly seems to show they are in a good place to start rebuilding this well known name into a big time act once again.
Todd La Torre – lead vocals
Michael Wilton – guitar,backing vocals
Parker Lundgren – guitar, backing vocals
Eddie Jackson – bass, backing vocals
Scott Rockenfield – drums, percussion, keyboard
Breaking The Silence
Walk In The Shadows
Where Dreams Go To Die
The Needle Lies
Arrow Of Time
Eyes Of A Stranger
Queen Of The Reich
Take Hold Of The Flame