BATTLECROSS-Detroit’s hometown heroes of heavy, thrash metal!
June 8th, 2013
As the first band playing the Frantic Stage at Orion Fest, Battlecross were introduced by Metallica's James Hetfield and Robert Trujillo. Battlecross took their places on stage, thanked the Metallica guys for having them be a part of this festival, and prepared to start the show.If Battlecross felt intimidated being the first act of the day, they didn't show it. If anything they seemed determined to be a tough act to follow! Even though Orion Music + More collectively included several diverse genres of music, if you needed any reminders that Heavy Metal was one of those genres, you needed to look no further than these hometown boys. Battlecross delivered an intense variety of thrash metal, incorporating elements of death, groove and power metal.
They opened their set with 'Breaking You', a very fast, very heavy song that would win over the most extreme of metal fans. Within seconds, everyone's blood was flowing a bit faster, their fists raised high, and of course, moshing ensued! The song slowed ever so slightly at the choruses, before thrashing along again for each successive verse. Visually, Battlecross had a captivating stage presence: they were headbangers through and through. Sometimes they synchronized their windmill headbanging, other times simply up and down, but never a dull moment in their show.
Since their new CD, War of Will, is due for release in July, they took the opportunity to play some of their new songs live for the first time on this day. 'Ghost Alive' and 'Force-Fed Lies' were a couple songs they included- both prime examples of their thrash/death/hardcore style. Another highlight was Kyle "Gumby" Gunther's intro to 'Kaleb', a truly fierce thrasher of a song he wrote for his son. He also pointed out his matching tattoo of his son's name on his right biceps. The lyrics are about a father's devotion to his son, but also warn of the challenges in life. The message is to be strong and true to yourself. They played that song with as much intensity as before, complete with ample headbanging. You could even say they were 'beard-banging' in the cases of Gumby, and guitarist Hiran Deraniyagala- each had lengthy beards that shook in counterpoint to their long hair as they headbanged along with the tempo of the music.
I had wondered if any band would consider covering a Slayer song at this show in honor of the late Jeff Haneman. I needn't have worried, though. It seemed Battlecross were on the same wavelength as I was. After a brief mention about Hanneman's recent passing, they introduced the song 'War Ensemble'. Having seen Slayer in concert myself, I can easily say I was impressed! Kyle Gunther put his own vocal style on the delivery of the lyrics- hardcore screams mixed with death metal growls. Musically, they nailed all the riffs and solos, and played it as fast as I've ever heard it played by Slayer themselves! A fitting way to honor one of thrash metal's key songwriters from one of the 'Big Four' of thrash.
Battlecross wound down their set with one of their better known songs, 'Push, Pull, Destroy' (previously featured on SiriusXM Liquid Metal radio). Then, as a special treat to the thrash die-hard fans, they closed their show with Pantera's 'Fucking Hostile'. If the crowd had tired at all by this point, they quickly forgot their fatigue and resumed the mosh-pit in full force. For anyone who had never heard of Battlecross before, they now realized these guys are a rising force to be reckoned with!
As a parting message to the crowd, Kyle Gunther encouraged everybody to do as many things as they can, see as many bands as they can, and "BE A FAN OF MUSIC TODAY!"
BATTLECROSS' Set List was as follows:
Man of Stone
Never Coming Back
War Ensemble (Slayer cover)
Flesh And Bone
Push, Pull, Destroy
Fucking Hostile (Pantera cover)
Battlecross will be touring the States on the Rock Star Energy Drink Mayhem Fest later this Summer. If you have a chance to go, do not miss them!
Extra Pics from their set: