First of all, apologies for the lateness of this review. It’s been about a week and a half since the gig and this amount of time for a review isn’t cool. The review has been sitting on my computer for days but circumstances recently have been such that my mind has been elsewhere thus I almost forgot I had to get this review online. Again sorry folks!
So onto the review…This gig proved to be a pretty special one. There was a lot of anticipation in the air and the conclusion was certainly an experience to remember. Now in their third decade of existence, legendary L.A. thrashers Hirax were visiting the UK for the first time and after their first show at the Metal Hammer sponsered Hammerfest in Wales, they made their way north of the border to play their first ever UK headline gig. It was definitely a special night, and if you’ve already checked out my interview with the band you’ll be glad to know that they plan to return!
First band of the night was Evil Blood. It was interesting to see these guys. Through random internet browsing I came across Evil Blood a long time ago. Originally active in their home country of Croatia throughout the 80s, the band eventually found themselves re-locating to the UK in the early 90s and are now based near Fife.
It was pretty cool to see Evil Blood in action. They have a really old-skool speed/thrash sound but with an extra dose of early blackened malice. Think of early material from bands like Venom, Kreator, Onslaught and Destruction. They played each song such as “Sinful Nun”, “Midnight in Sodom” and “Ave Sathanas” with precision and aggression, but also with a sense of fun. The band were clearly enjoying themselves onstage and moshing with the crowd. There were few people there to catch Evil Blood which I think is a shame since they are certainly an awesome live act with a collection of classic old-skool thrash tunes. Those who were there were definitely nodding their heads in approval. I’ll definitely be looking out for Evil Blood again in the future – hopefully I can pick up one of their releases at a show and write a review!
Check them out – you won’t regret it.
The second band of the night was none other than Glasgow’s own Circle of Tyrants. I’ve seen these guys before and I believe I’ve done a review of them on Moshville in the past. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see them this time since I was interviewing Hirax during their set but trust me, they’re one of the best bands from the Glasgow scene doing the rounds right now. Links down below to check them out – I’ll certainly be hitting a gig in the future for another review.
Finally the time had come for Hirax to hit the stage. Drummer Mike Vega got behind the kit first, followed by guitar/bass brothers Lance and Steve Harrison for their intro piece “100 000 Strong” before frontman Katon de Pena took up the mic to a rousing cheer from the crowd (increased in size since Evil Blood’s set to fill out Ivory Blacks) before firing into their recent single (which also spawned a video) “Hellion Rising” from the new album Immortal Legacy. The crowd sang along with Katon and banged heads throughout the set through Hirax hits from throughout their career including “Baptized by Fire” (from El Rostro de la Muerte) and “Lucifer’s Inferno” (from Assassins of War EP). The band wasted no time in promoting the new material from Immortal Legacy showcasing new ragers like “Black Smoke” and “Earthshaker”, and the fans were loving it. With the constant headbanging and mosh pits throughout the entirety of the set, Hirax are clearly still writing classic hard and fast thrash metal that can confidently sit alongside their 80’s material as well as modern thrashterpieces from their peers like Exodus, Testament and Overkill.
Following the newer material, Hirax took us back in time to 2004’s The New Age of Terror with the raging “Hostile Territory” which further continued the mental mosh with all heads banging and the pit in full swing. They then went back even further to their much-loved high velocity debut with the brilliant “Destroy” from 1985’s Raging Violence. For me this was definitely one of the highlights of the night. Hirax were obviously enjoying their first time in Glasgow with constant crowd interaction throughout the set, and throughout “Destroy” they engaged the crowd with the beginning of the onslaught of stage dives through the remainder of the set.
Reaching the home stretch of the thrashing madness that was Hirax’s set, the band treated us to a rendition of “El Diablo Negro” which resulted in a rousing roar from the crowd when asked by de Pena if we wanted to sing part-way through the song. We certainly showed him our vocal chops when he replied that we surely all must have had singing lessons! Anyone who’s ever been to a gig in Glasgow would know we certainly love a good sing/shout-along as well as chanting between songs, and we definitely proved that to Hirax. The penultimate song was a more modern tune in “Broken Neck” from El Rostro de la Muerte (which the band also released a video for) which naturally got more heads banging (no necks broken though, thrashers are made of stronger stuff!) and a continuation of the stage diving mania leading to the conclusion of the setlist. To finish their first ever UK headline show in the UK Hirax took us right back to very beginning of their career with the song that got them on one of the famous Metal Massacre compilations (made by Brian Slagel, owner of Metal Blade records) – “Bombs of Death”. There’s no words to describe the raging violence that occurred. There were stage divers aplenty, the most I’ve seen at a gig in a long time, as well as every head banging until their necks reached the threshold of being broken. Enough said.
Of course as usual in Scotland, we didn’t let Hirax escape too easily. Our chants brought them back on stage for an encore to the tune of “Assassins of War” and the crowd acted accordingly.
Hirax’s first show in Scotland was nothing short of a triumph. If you speak to anyone who was at the gig they’ll tell you it was simply awesome. You can’t say any more. I know that I’ll certainly be glad when they return and seeing the reaction from the crowd, I won’t be the only one. If you get the chance to go and see them, I guarantee you’ll have an awesome time. Thrash and Destroy!
On a side note, Hirax then stuck around after their set and spoke to every fan in the building, took photos with them and signed their stuff. So few bands seem to do that these days and it’s a testament to how down to earth and cool Hirax are. On behalf of all the fans at the show, cheers Hirax! We’ll definitely be looking forward to you guys returning to Scotland in the future!
Finally, the band are currently thrashing through Europe. Upcoming dates include France, Spain, Italy, Slovakia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Switzerland, Slovenia, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Feature Image and Tour Poster – Hirax official Facebook page
Live Photos – Sean Merrigan