Sacred Leather/Warbringer – A Live Report
A few weeks ago, I was part of a roadtrip to the Black Circle Brewing Company in Indianapolis to see A) the best classic metal band going today, B) the best thrash band ever, and C) whatever band was the headliner of said show. This roadtrip was about four hours, but totally worth it because two out of the three aforementioned bands are supremely good live, and I’ve always wanted to visit this notable music venue/craft brewery. So here’s a live report of Sacred Leather, Warbringer, and a band called Enforcer.
Well, it turns out that Black Circle Brewing Company is a fantastic spot for small(ish) bands to play. The stage in the back corner is ideal for heavy metal: there’s not a bad seat in the whole venue, and you’re close enough to the musicians to become part of the show. They have a full menu of craft beers (which I imagine a beer person would think are pretty tasty—they all taste the same to me), shelves full of old horror and sci-fi VHS tapes, and walls lined with tour posters and stickers of bands which have played there. I found a Winds of Leng sticker on one of the walls and got a little excited (had to send a picture to Scrimm). Before the show started, many of the band members were walking around the venue, getting drinks, unloading gear, and speaking to fans at their respective merch tables. At 8PM, the show began…
Sacred Leather is without a doubt my favorite current band who keeps alive the spirit of traditional heavy metal. Their sound is perfectly encapsulated by how they look: the leather, spikes, and sleeveless shirts aren’t there by coincidence. (I wrote a little about them back in 2017, claiming that they would Bring Sexy Back to Heavy Metal.) Dual guitar harmonies, solos, catchy hooks, and Halford-esque screams make them the perfect band to sport all that leather.
According to lead vocalist Dee Wrathchild, “we’ve only got a half an hour, so we’re packing in as many songs as we can.” That’s fine by us, as they’re all bangers. During favorites like “Ultimate Force,” just about every fist was pumped in the air; it was a true celebration of heavy metal togethership. Sacred Leather also played their new song “Wheels at Dusk.” Also, pay close attention to the rad artwork.
McNulty Hot Take: I think Warbringer is the best thrash band out there, past or present. Now before you go grabbing those pitchforks, understand that I wasn’t into thrash in the 80’s. Upon discovering this genre about a decade ago, I had to go backwards and hear all the older stuff that people considered legendary. But all during this period of time there was a new band from California which, in my ears, was doing just about everything better than those old farts. Every couple of years they would release a new, excellent album; alongside (almost) constant touring and putting on amazing shows.
John Kevill is an absolute beast on vokills: he can growl, scream, spit fast, and shriek. He’s able to extract tons of energy out of a crowd, get their fists pumping and gang-shouting during the chorus of classics like “Living Weapon” and “Hunter Seeker.” Axe-handlers Adam and Chase can tango with just about any thrash duo that I can think of, and are capable of writing an unlimited supply of interesting thrash riffs and shredding solos. Carlos has been gifting the world of heavy metal with interesting fills amidst relentless bursts of double-bass work. Chase is new(er) to the band but filled the shoes perfectly well, as bass has always been a very prominent player in the Warbringer sound. I could watch them play all night, but we received a killer 45-ish minute set full of classics and a few new songs including their latest shred-fest “Firepower Kills:”
Enforcer is a band from Sweden. Some people like their work. I was ambivalent towards it. If they’re your favorite, I do apologize.
That’s Warbringer’s most recent LP, Woe to the Vanquished, signed by two of the members (it was past my bedtime and I didn’t have the energy to track down the other three). I should have given them more money, but this was the only vinyl available at the table and I couldn’t find somebody working the Sacred Leather table to sell me some tapes 🙁
The Black Circle Brewing Company is a wonderful venue, one which I will re-visit because it is easily in the top five metal venues. For the event, two out of the three bands knocked my socks clear off, and the other was fine. It was a much welcome, short road trip (made even better because I wasn’t the one driving). The beer was good, the people friendly, the energy palpable, the fists held up high in the air. 10/10 would recommend.