Review by Sean Palmerston; Concert photos by Adam Wills
After going through a short period of very few international metal bands playing shows in Hamilton the last few months have had a few real gems. Late in the summer the city played host to shows by both Vektor and Cauldron, while in the past two weeks the Hammer has seen excellent shows by Portland doom quartet Witch Mountain and, just last week, a return visit by North Carolina’s Corrosion of Conformity.
The last time COC was in town it was under quite different circumstances. The band, then a quartet fronted by guitarist Pepper Keenan, was supporting Metallica at Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum playing to a sold out crowd that may or may not have known who they were. This time around, the band is playing as a trio, with Keenan concentrating all his efforts on NOLA super group Down. Instead, the original trio version of the band that recorded Animosity, Technocracy and Eye For An Eye is back together touring, having released an excellent self-titled album earlier this year and, just last week, a new free CDEP available only through Scion AV.
COC aren’t touring alone on this current tour. They have Atlanta GA quartet Royal Thunder along for the ride. The band recently released their full-length debut album on Relapse Records, entitled CVI, and their appearances was much anticipated by this writer. Their new album is my favourite record of 2012 so far and with only a few weeks left I am not sure that any other release will eclipse it. I was hoping I would have a chance to see them play this year, but I must admit I was surprised to find out that the show would only be about seven blocks away from our house.
Due to family commitments I didn’t get a chance to see either of the local opening acts, the first of which, Windsor’s Gypsy Chief Goliath are quickly making a name for themselves in the Southern Ontario metal scene. I arrived just as the second local openers were tearing their gear off the stage and Royal Thunder was putting theirs on. It was no time at all before RT had all their gear up and ready and, as expected, the quartet put on quite a show.
Visually Royal Thunder is quite a striking band. Guitarist Josh Weaver stood to the left with of the drum riser, full beard and rugged motorcycle boot on with a huge pedalboard just in front of him. Just to the right of the drums was bassist MIny Parsons’ area. She is very tall and has a slightly gothic look to her. To her left was a second touring guitarist, the tallest of the three at the front. The quartet concentrated on songs from their new album and, quite surprisingly to me, proved to be an even more formidable act live than on record. Parsons’ voice is just absolutely incredible live. She has so much power that it was almost unexpectedly intense. The band was incredibly tight, using the twin guitars very well but the unassuming Parsons is the real star of the show in this band, making the most of her voice and playing some solid bass lines as well. Make sure to see them if you can.
This was my third time seeing COC in just over a year, and I will be seeing them another two times in a few weeks when we board the Barge To Hell cruise in Miami, so I must admit that I didn’t play as close attention to them as I did to the band that preceded them. Which doesn’t mean that the trio put in a below average set by any means. In fact, if anything, this was a great set by the band. Starting off with new track “Psychic Vampire”, they played songs off their self-titled release, the title track off their new Scion EP and some classic 80s tracks from their first few releases too. Mike Dean is an engaging, funny front man for the band and Woody Weatherman was more than happy to rip some meaty licks out for the Hamilton faithful. It was neat to see them play just down the road from my home in such an intimate venue, but I’m looking forward to seeing even more of them soon – COC on a muthafuckin’ boat y’all!