EARLY MAN @ Spaceland, Silverlake (3/26/09)

Remember that feeling early ANTHRAX, METALLICA, and MEGADETH records gave you? Well, despite press releases and marketing blurbs, bands like SHADOWS FALL never truly elicit those vibes. This reviving crop of “retro thrash” bands on the other hand (like MUNICIPAL WASTE, TOXIC HOLOCAUST, and EARLY MAN), certainly tap into said old school charm… and with no modern relevance whatsoever. And therein lies the beauty.

This night at Spaceland in Silverlake, EARLY MAN took to the stage like out of a Cliff ’em All segment with every heavy metal cliche intact… the clothes, the hair, and of course the music. The crowd, an older demographic (and generally subdued in typical LA fashion), were prepped to immerse themselves in some furious metallic nostalgia. And that, they delivered.

Playing songs from their latest, Beware the Circling Fin EP, the band also debuted a track from their forthcoming new album. Frontman Mike Conte, equipped with a King V axe, did his best Dave Mustaine from his understated vocals to his forearm-busting riffing, free of the “groove” in modern metal guitar playing. His style of fast down-picking and palm-muting embodies true thrash not heard anymore these days. Not even Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman play like this anymore. Conte was focused and precise, while bassist Tim Ramage was a hair-flopping madman. Ramage‘s energy, along with drummer Adam Bennati‘s quick and nimble time-keeping, elevated the on-stage energy.

Though the band lack the hardcore/punk crossover touches of MUNICIPAL WASTE, EARLY MAN‘s true thrash style has secured their own corner in the “retro thrash” revival. Check them out before they hit bigger venues…and because metal isn’t all about being brutal and pissed off all the time.

Here are some pictures from the show:

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