Last Night: Skeletonwitch, Havok & Legion at Walters

Skeletonwitch, Havok, Mutilation Rites, Legion Walters Houston October 17, 2012

Wednesday night's Skeletonwitch show at Walters was one I'd been looking forward to since it was announced. The speedy Ohio metallers nearly eviscerated a Warehouse Live crowd back in April opening for Nile and Black Dahlia Murder, but that was just an abbreviated set. I wanted to see how fast and loud they could get with their very own stage.

Because brutality loves company, Skeletonwitch made sure to bring along a few pals for their trek down to Naylor Street. Denver thrashers Havok are a welcome addition to any speed-metal bill, and New York's introspective aggronauts Mutilation Rites seemed worth checking out, as well. Game on.

If you're the sort of person who heads downtown to jump in a circle pit on a weeknight, you knew what you were in for with this gig: Devil horns, banging heads, and neck-snapping, beer-soaked riff after hyperspeed riff. Still, it was a little hard not to be taken aback a tad when these elements were produced right off the bat by a handful of teenaged locals.

Speed metal had already risen from the bowels of hell, ascended the mountaintop and died a horrific, agonizing death before the members of Houston thrash kings Legion were born. Somewhere along the way, an older brother, a cool dad or a headbanging pot dealer must have turned them on to the classics, because the flaying riffage these fresh-faced longhairs cranked out Wednesday was pure, vintage Bay Area thrash.

It was exciting to see a new generation take up the musical torch dropped decades ago by Metallica and Megadeth, and Legion had the musical chops to hold their own against the older, hairier and more established out-of-towners on the bill. Singer/guitarist Drew Habryl's clean, Mustaine-ish vocals stood out on the night, a welcome throwback that others in the neo-thrash movement would be wise to copy.

Legion's talent did not go unnoticed by the other bands on the bill. Both Havok and Skeletonwitch praised the openers' talent from the stage during their sets. Mutilation Rites, on the other hand, said nothing at all, preferring to abandon all pretense of between-song banter and focus solely on sonic punishment.

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Nathan Smith
Contact: Nathan Smith