Published Apr 09, 2019"If anyone fucks with you out there, let them know that today is not the day," remarked Hatebreed vocalist Jamey Jasta. An evening strictly for celebration and not violent crowd tension, Hatebreed's 25th anniversary tour made its sole Canadian stop at Toronto's Danforth Music Hall Monday night.
First support act Fit for an Autopsy set a fantastic pace for the show with their distinctive lace of doom-tinged deathcore. Some might recall FFAA as the brainchild of esteemed produced Will Putney, but the half-full Danforth left knowing the band for their sheer brutality and merit of consistency.
Hardcore mainstays Terror followed, playing classic bits from their catalogue to a growing crowd that appeared to be new to their no-frills hardcore ethics, but extremely receptive. Playing as a four-piece — down guitarist Martin Stewart — they opened with "Lowest of the Low" and "Stick Tight," cementing early on that this was Terror's best Toronto set to date, commendable in an environment so far removed from the air-tight hardcore shows they typically call home. The breakdown of "No Time for Fools" was an undeniable evening highlight, while "One with the Underdogs," "Mental Demolition" and "Keep Your Mouth Shut" welcomed notable crowd participation very early on. Perhaps that is the nature of affable frontman Scott Vogel, but it is certain that Terror turned many a metalhead into a hardcore kid last night.
The evening took a dull turn with Cro-Mags and Obituary. Playing to a full room, the Danforth audience was moderately responsive to the Mags' groundbreaking New York hardcore/thrash combo, but their mix sounded flat and spaced out. This lucidity failed to capture the crowd's attention to the same degree as earlier moments of the night. Some attendees were likely comparing the performance to ex-Mag Harley Flanagan's appearance at Not Dead Yet 2017, which seemed leagues ahead of the karaoke-esque momentum of this "official" Cro-Mags set. The set paced along with empty dialogue about distrust in media, politicians and the band's immigration insecurities, until a sincere bite was felt from vocalist John Joseph before "Street Justice." Dedicating the track to fellow NYHC acts Madball, Leeway and Sick of It All, Joseph spoke of his music scene's "Down By Law" motto, a mantra for anti-police and anti-snitching at large. The set largely touched on Cro-Mag's positive-mental-attitude motto, but showcased far more negatives in actuality.
After a lengthy intermission, Obituary took to the Danforth stage in dewy green lighting to a lengthy rendition of their notorious "Redneck Stomp." What was initially thrilling quickly turned into boredom, which was not assisted by a poorly mixed guitar tone. Fortunately, Obituary songs are heavy in riff and weight, and thus a set list featuring "Body Bag," "Slowly We Rot" and "Infected" moved quickly through juicy death metal riffage and double-kicked vengeance.
The floor of the Danforth was soaked in beer, sweat and water (and whatever else) before Hatebreed closed out the bill. Beginning with Satisfaction is the Death of Desire's 1997 introduction "Empty Promises," the audience erupted. Rightfully so, it is a truly perfect hardcore song. 2002's "Perseverance" continued with the room screaming back louder than Jasta himself. The only instrument that may have overpowered the audience's sing-alongs was the Connecticut unit's bass drop sample.
Leading into "Looking Down the Barrel of Today" off 2016's The Concrete Confessional, Jasta made sure to recognize that it is Hatebreed's most successful commercial effort to date. It's a feat that is almost unprecedented for a band almost three decades old, but the data checks out. Yesterday marked Hatebreed's largest headlining appearance in Toronto — a nearly sold-out 1500 capacity room. After a quick on-stage survey, it appeared that one third of the room was new to Hatebreed's live show, which continued with "To the Threshold," "In Ashes They Shall Reap" and "As Diehard as They Come." Far more focused on anthemia (read: cheesy) than their early releases, the latter's breakdown displayed a reverence for Slayer-seasoned mosh madness that is undeniably hard.
"If you see someone standing still, give them that Toronto-style encouragement in the pit," a bandana-clad Jasta forewarned before "Tear It Down," which led into crushing fan favourites "Everyone Bleeds Now," "Smash Your Enemies" and "Before Dishonor."
"This is the best Monday night I have ever had," Jasta declared, calling Toronto an "easily top-five city to play in. The outside world thinks we're all violent meth heads, but our message is just positivity, baby" Jasta joked before a concluding round of sweaty circle pits and crowd surfing to agreeable pit anthems "This Is Now," "A Call for Blood" and "I Will Be Heard."
"This message lives on and can be shared with those falling on hard times," Jasta remarked, in closing their five-hour showcase of metal and hardcore. "Music is an immortal art."