Big Al's Metal ...?

Hungry. No other word encompasses the feeling of metal fans here in Pittsburgh as far as live shows go. With the successful one-two punch last week with shows at Club Zoo and the Rex Theater, it seems promoters are getting the message that this is, and always was, a viable city for live metal shows.

First up was Children of Bodom's appearance last Monday in the Strip District. What was once known as Metropol has been reincarnated as Club Zoo, and impressively so, I might add. The staff was uber-friendly, as were the bouncers up in front of the stage. This made things even more pleasant for the ravenous fans lining up early to catch the trio of COB, god forbid, and opener Through the Eyes of the Dead. It was, in fact, this opening act that caught my attention with their mix of South Carolina sludge and death metal. Playing to an attentive and packed crowd, they put forth an energy that was returned many times over. Even with almost no room to move, the kids found space to form circle pits, with the human tornadoes tearing down all in their paths. I have a feeling we'll be seeing these southern gentlemen again soon.

Next up was god forbid. One may think that a tight band like TTEOTD would exhaust a crowd, but god forbid amped the crowd even further. Perhaps this is one of those occasions where a band just owns a town, but Byron Davis and the boys put on a show that won't soon be forgotten. Playing more than a handful of tunes from their latest album, IV: Constitution of Treason, the crowd was eating from Davis's hand from the get-go. Seeing a rather built man stalking the stage before him may elicit outright fear from some, but Davis and the brothers Coyle have that mysterious stage presence, a charisma that will propel them far beyond the clubs they play now. Old favorites from Determination and Gone Forever were pulled out of the hat, but the only complaint I have is that on a transcendent night like this one, a cover or two would have been cool. "Propaganda" by Sepultura or "Out Ta Get Me" by Guns N Roses would have been awesome as encores. Perhaps next time, on a headlining visit.

Speaking of which, Children of Bodom were the ones throwing the party this time around, and the fans made their joy known. For a band of young pirates from Finland, their music has resonated far beyond their European beginnings. Starting off as technical wizards many years ago, as many younger bands do, Alexi Laiho and company have shown signs of musical progression with their latest release, Are You Dead Yet? With elements of sleaze (i.e. Trash-era Alice Cooper) creeping in, the sound they define has a wider spectrum. Powerful yet unafraid of incorporating their childhood influences, this a significant advance in the genres of thrash and death metal. Those in attendance seemed to agree. Singing along while moshing and pumping their fists to every song as if it were a personal anthem, COB themselves would be excused if they found it all surprising. My guess is that they knew all along that they'd roll through America with ease, given their ability. Pittsburgh just happened to be the right place to start the victory parade.