Review by William Nave
The Knitting Factory, Boise, ID.
Sept 13th, 2019
The newly remodeled Knitting Factory in Boise, ID was the scene of a raucous, glorious show on Sept 13th. It was also Friday the 13th, and a full moon. SO, the stage was set perfectly for some metal mayhem. Black Label Society and their opening guests more than lived up to the hype of the moment.
First of all, the venue appears to be well organized. I am not a Boise local, but the locals tell me there was a fire last year, and the place has been vastly improved from it's pre-fire condition. There's a couple of bars, one down on the main floor and another off to the side of the upper balcony. The upper bar provides a great spot to take a break from being on the main floor, but still able to see and hear everything.
On to the music. I CAN NOT say enough about the first band, Alien Weaponry. I have seen the future of metal and these kids might just be it. I am not joking when I say 'kids' – the eldest member just turned 20. They are from New Zealand and are of Māori descent. There are three members, brothers Lewis and Henry de Jong, and Ethan Trembath. Their songs are mainly in Māori with some being in English. Their sound is a blisteringly heavy combination of old-school thrash with a sprinkle of Nu Metal thrown in. They warm up the crowd with the Haka and roll the war dance into their first number. From then on, these young lads made the absolute most of the few minutes afforded to a band in the opening slot. They fill the hall with thunderous, chugging riffs that seamlessly transition into relentless, thrashy gallops. It's enough to make an old guy like me smile like it's 1984. By the middle of their show, they had recruited the entire crowd to their side. These youngsters have it all, the sound, the swagger, the raw riffs and they are ready to take on the world. If they come to play anywhere near you, do not miss it.
Next up, after a brief intermission we are blessed with a set by The Black Dahlia Murder. Unfortunately, the band got off to a rough start and took a bit to recover. The first 3-4 songs were plagued by some obvious and glaring sound issues. First, no vocals....and I mean NO vocals. They got that turned around fairly quickly. Then one of the two guitars was completely silent. It wasn't obvious (but something just didn't sound right) until an instrumental break that turned into a brief air guitar competition. The sound techs briefly turned up the other guitar..the one that was on.....which resulted in an unholy shrieking feedback at max volume that made the entire crowd pause and jump back. Part way through the song after that, things seemed to finally come together. The band apologized for the issue, though it isn't their fault, at all. C'mon sound crew. We don't get two shots at this!! All in all, after the issues were resolved, The band did manage to pummel through the last few songs in the set with a fury that made up for it. It's like they decided 'Well, we lost half our time. Gonna just have to play a whole show in three songs'. The Black Dahlia Murder turned up the intensity like only they can, and raced hard to the finish. The pit swirled in raging approval. Good on them for being professionals and soldiering on through.
Now, on to the main act. That's right, Black Label Society, Zakk Wylde, hell yeah! Sitting in the dark, listening to 'Whole Lotta Sabbath' and waiting for the curtain to drop. Then BOOM! The band starts romping through the first tune, Genocide Junkies. The atmosphere is electric. Boise belongs to Zakk for the next couple of hours and he knows it. Next up the band goes in to Funeral Bell, The Beginning, Rose Petalled Garden and Heart of Darkness before even stopping to breathe. Zakk and the band hold court at an insane pace, with no break in the sonic madness. After some more bangers like Suicide Messiah, and Peddlers, Zakk and Co slow things a bit. Zakk moves to the keys and hands over guitar duties to Dario.
After a beautiful performance of Spoke in the Wheel, there was a moving tribute to none other than Dimebag Darrell with Zakk still on the keys for In This River. It was touching and added a a very personal and moving feeling to the whole show.
Next came the real treat of the show. After Zakk warmed everyone up with Hellride, and Bored to Tears, he led the band into A Love Unreal then a brief pause in the action. The band roared back to life with the familiar opening squawk box of Fire it Up....and boy did they. Zakk starts ripping in to the solo on Fire it Up, then exits stage left. Zakk reappears on the main floor and walks right in to the crowd and doesn't miss a note. Next thing you know, Zakk is standing in the pit, surrounded by enthralled fans and laying down a solo that, well, only Zakk can deliver. The best part is, he's not even close to done. So next Zakk goes back to the bar, up the stairs, and out to the edge of the balcony. He hangs his axe over the balcony and proceeds to shred away. Now, most of us haven't noticed but Dario has made his way off stage, and to the other side of the balcony......where he now is hanging his axe off the side, and challenging Zakk to a duel. Back and forth they treat the crowd to a duel for the ages. Don't let Dario Lorina's official title of 'rhythm guitar' fool you. He can absolutely shred, and he proved it here.
After 10 minutes or so of Dario and Zakk holding all of us firmly in their grasp, they both return to the stage for the big finish. After a quick trip through the Concrete Jungle, the band pauses again. Is that it? Aren't they going to play that one.....and then....BAM. Yep. Stillborn. The crowd loves every note and sings every word. Zakk of course embellishes the guitar solo how only he can, and raises his guitar over his head for the finish, like a warrior king proclaiming victory over a fallen enemy, and raising his crown to the heavens. Zakk is our king, and all is well in the kingdom tonight.
Black Label Society is on tour now and if you're reading this, hopefully they are headed your way. Go see them. Make sure and show up in time for Alien Weaponry, and Black Dahlia Murder too.