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Butcher Babies/Hatebreed
Black Label Society at Kool Haus
Toronto Canada 08/01/15

Despite the onslaught of snow and frigid temps, many rabid metal fans came out in droves to catch the final concert to be held at Kool Haus. The popular Toronto nightclub announced earlier in the year that it would close down for good end of January 2015 to make way for a master-planned residential community. In other words, condos would be erected in place of this great spot to see live bands for the last seventeen plus years of existence.

On this frosty driven night though, the venue made way for the triple assault of Butcher Babies, Hatebreed and Black Label Society to cap off a fine night of go-for-the-throat performances and fueled with as much aggression as one could handle. The show started off with a bang as Butcher Babies hit the stage quickly and grabbed everyone by the balls. The sultry and seductive pair of Heidi Sheppard and Carla Harvey carved into an eight song set that began with “I Smell a Massacre” to get the blood pumping and adrenaline amped very quickly. These girls can really rock and what impressed me mostly is how quickly they could command your attention get the mosh pit riled up in the process.

They tore into “The Mirror Never Lies” next and then really got the crowd going with “Goliath" before going full speed ahead with "Jesus Needs More Babies for his War Machine”. The frenzy increased when Heidi decided to jump down into the mosh pit to truly prove that Butcher Babies owned this crowd. She’s one hell of a brave metal warrior to handle that massive aggression and I applaud her for it. Heidi even had the good sense to warn a fan who brought his young son into the maelstrom to get out of the throng of moshers because she was all set to enrage the fans to start tearing shit up. She’s a class act as far as I am concerned and along with Carla these two provide a vital one-two punch as far as front women are concerned.

The remaining numbers like “Mr. Slowdeath”, “The Deathsurround” and “Axewound” all sounded killer in a live setting, and they closed their set off with “Magnolia Blvd” from their latest album Goliath to cement a rousing performance. With the crowd all warmed up for the next act – Hatebreed stormed out of the gate in a similar fashion. I am not a fan of the band, but Jamey Jasta and co. let rip a vicious set of hardcore numbers laced with metalcore, punk and crossover thrash to literally metal your face off! I believe they performed about 14 songs mostly made up from their six studio recordings. What I did like about Jamey though is how passionate he is about metal and I thought he did a great job of preparing the crowd for the headliners.

Once Hatebreed departed from the stage, I thought there was a lengthy bit of time before BLS finally started up, but once they did make no mistake about the huge presence Zakk Wylde brings to any arena he performs in. He opened up with “The Beginning…At Last” from Sonic Brew and then hammered into “Funeral Bell” and “Bleed for Me” before unleashing new song “Heart of Darkness”. Then he dipped back to the Mafia album for"Suicide Messiah" before playing cuts “My Dying Time” and “Damn the Flood” from his latest opus Catacombs of the Black Vatican. At this time the crowd was primed and ready for Zakk’s 20 minute long solo that spewed copious amounts of sonic machismo, but honestly it was a tad too long for my tastes.

"Butcher Babies hit the stage quickly and grabbed everyone by the balls."

The second half of the set began with “Godspeed Hellbound” from their previous release Order of the Black and then we got one of my favorite new songs “Angel of Mercy” before “In this River” (from 2005’s Mafia) began a heart-warming tribute to Dimebag Darrell complete with a multitude of banners that fell from the rafters at the end of the song. This was a touching moment in the show, but Zakk never lets up as he tears into “The Blessed Hellride”, “The Concrete Jungle” and then finally caps off the night with “Stillborn” to end on a high note.

Without a doubt this was indeed a fine way to end an illustrious 17 year plus career for Kool Haus and I am sad to see these doors close for good. I’ve been to a number of incredible metal shows over the years at this venue, but none will probably ever rival the performances of these three fine bands. RIP Kool Haus because we are definitely gonna’ miss you.

Kenneth Gallant, HMS

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