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The Regent in Downtown LA was in for a once in a lifetime gig on the night of January 6th, 2018. One of the most legendary names in the underground metal community as well as pioneers of thrash metal, crossover and extreme metal in general with a cult following, Nuclear Assault was the band set to headline the stage that night. Somewhere in between the show being announced and purchasing my ticket, I realized that this show would be unlike any other metal concert that I have ever attended.  Not only does Nuclear Assault have a rabid fan-base that turns a concert into a contact sport, but this was both their farewell show for the west coast, as well as the first time the group has performed in Los Angeles in 28 years. That being said, you can only imagine how crazy the bands self proclaimed "final assault" was to witness in person.

The Show Your Scars X Fest was a day long festival with a stacked lineup of Thrash Metal, with headliners Nuclear Assault, Hirax, Evildead and Toxic Holocaust. Supported by local acts Expulsion (members of Exhumed and Repulsion), Thrown Into Exile, Pounder and BrainDead. Nuclear Assault is a thrash metal band from New York City formed in 1986 by ex- Anthrax bassist Dan Lilker. Lilker has also been a member of several side projects as well including crossover thrash band S.O.D. as well as Grindcore band Brutal Truth. Nuclear Assault's brand of thrash is built off of pure aggression and speed with a healthy dose of influence from the 80's New York Hardcore scene. Best known for their albums "Game Over" 1985 and "Handle With Care" 1987. Hirax is a thrash metal band formed in 1984 in Cypress, California by vocalist Katon W. De Pena, who is the group's only remaining original member. Their first two albums "Raging Violence" 1985 and "Hate, Fear and Power" 1986 are regarded as heavy influences on the thrash metal and crossover world. Toxic Holocaust is a thrash metal band formed in 1999 by multi-instrumentalist Joel Grind. Grind remains the only constant member of the band since their beginning nearly 20 years ago, however during that time, Grind recorded the first few Toxic Holocaust albums "Evil Never Dies" and "Hell on Earth" as a one man band, finding session musicians for tours. Eventually settling on a lineup that is seemingly constantly changing, and switching from guitar live over to bass. Toxic Holocaust displays a DIY philosophy that has won the respect of the underground. Evildead are a native LA thrash metal band formed in 1987, most famous for their album "Annihilation of Civilization" They have been making a comeback in recent months playing shows in the LA area and plan to release new music in 2018. 

Nuclear Assault opened up the set with "Rise From The Ashes" from their album Survive from 1988 and it didn't take long for the crowd to start getting crazy for the main event. The entire night was filled with circle pits, crowd-surfing and stage-divers landing on top of other stage-divers. The bands energy seemed to feed off of the crowds relentless spirit, and vice versa. However things really kicked into high gear when the intro for one of the bands more well known songs "Critical Mass" began to play. This part of the concert seemed to be a flashback to the 80's, with more fans on stage than the band itself. "Critical Mass" is a politically conscious song about the environment and the consequences of nuclear war, and the fans jumping on stage and singing the chorus alongside front-man John Connelly was an unforgettable experience. The show was proof that some bands have a following may still be underground after a 30 year career, yet they have fans that are immensely loyal. Knowing every word to every song, getting on stage and sharing the mic, passing the mic stand back to the singer after it was knocked over time after time again. On top of all of this, the band members simply do not act like rockstars, coming out to the front of the venue for pictures with fans, talking with everyone, signing vinyl records. The entire night was a representation of the brotherhood of the metal community and proof that we have some of the best fans of music that a veteran metal band could ask for. This is our scene and we own it. Simply an unforgettable night.

X fest2018


Neil Metcalf

Writer - Los Angeles

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