Spending Labor Day weekend watching some bands live is quite the way to ease the pain of the summer coming to an end. This past Saturday West Virginia’s Zeroking and Kentucky’s Downtrend partnered up to melt the faces off of fans at Summit City in Whitesburg, Kentucky. The show marked only the 6th or 7th show new vocalist Shawn Williams had performed with Downtrend, and though I’ve seen the band various times throughout the years this is the first time other than witnessing a short practice session that I was able to see Shawn go to work on the stage. Both bands go way back and have played together before throughout the last decade. Zeroking have been furiously working on their upcoming album ‘The Empire Of Sin’ and have just put the final touches on the album. They have also released a track from the album titled “Boom”. The West Virginians have been working on the album since 2014 and needless to say we can’t wait to hear it.
Zeroking took the liberty of playing first on this night. They opened up their set with the energetic track “Drugs Will Keep Us Together”. Frontman Andy Haught is one of the most intense vocalists that you can ever witness on stage. Just from his presence on stage it’s easy to tell that he absolutely loves what he does. The band quickly cranked out another song as Andy stood center stage calling out to the crowd to get on their feet. Moving on to their third song on the set a riff rang out and I immediately knew it was the new track “Boom”. Shane Day’s shredding riffs lead you right into the song along with bassist Steven Entler laying down some deep deep tones to polish off that thundering herd of sound Zeroking is known for. Andy screamed “Fight for our lives til it’s over” while pumping his fist into the air. It’s nearly impossible to not feel the groove in this track and want to move around. The band’s intense stage presence is something you not only see but feel. They put their heart into their performance from the time the first note rings out until the moment they leave the stage. I have heard a lot of cover songs in my day, and it’s rare that a band out performs the originator of the song. Zeroking however, did just that when they covered the Rob Zombie classic “Dragula”. If everyone in the crowd wasn’t already amped up they were by the time the chorus took hold in this song. You also can’t talk about this track, or any track for that matter without mentioning skin slayer Chris Webb who pounded his way through each and every track. His speed and precise timing is a staple in their sound and he kills it not only in the studio but in a live setting as well. Of course no Zeroking set is complete without their celebrated cover medley of “Jungle Love” (Morris Day And The Time), “Girls Girls Girls” (Motley Crue) and “You Spin Me Round” (Dead Of Alive). Each song has that Zeroking spin on them and gives them that extra kick to get the crowd excited. Then they ended their set with everyone completely in awe of their performance with one of the earliest Zeroking tracks “54xtc”. Make sure to keep your eye out for everything Zeroking and their upcoming album. Check out the “Boom” here.
Downtrend started out their set with an instrumental breakdown and then Shawn Williams made his grand entrance and the band immediately went into one of their first singles “13 Reasons”. Shawn’s vocal tone is somewhat different from the previous singer. While Downtrend’s sound is still rooted in Southern metal he gives them more of a mixture of grunge and post hardcore vocal styles. While everyone in the band certainly has their eye appealing talents in the band your eyes often are drawn to drummer J.D. Hall as he not only plays note for note but adds a tremendous amount of showmanship in his drumming style. Watch him for just a few minutes and you are bound to see 2 or 3 drum stick twirls, or some other impressive move. He also somtimes is referred to as the Micheal Jordan of drumming because he is often seen with his tongue out just like MJ. The band then went into playing a few classics like “Skyline Theory”, and “Once For Keeps”. Jeremy Chaney lays down the thunder with his bass lines, and even added a short solo intro into one of the tracks. His Geezer Butler style of playing is easily heard in each and every track. In addition to singing backing vocals guitarist Josh Crum also is quite the fret master. Playing riffs written by Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil is no easy task, and Crum made it look like child’s play when the band covered “Outshined” in memory of the late great Chris Cornell. Of course Shawn’s vocal range and style really lends itself to this song and you get to hear his voice shine when he belts out the chorus. Next the band played “Liar” which is one of their heavier tracks and Shawn gets a chance to show off his harsher vocal tone. His aggression is unleashed and it adds that much more intensity into the track. Downtrend would not be one upped in regards to cover songs and chose to cover Lada Gaga’s “Million Reasons”. They do make the song their own and are able to pull it off even with what I’m told is little to no rehearsals for the track. You could hear several fans in the crowd wowed at the balls it took for the band to cover a pop song. The bigger the risk the higher the reward and these Kentuckians pulled it off. The night wasn’t yet complete. With one final song left to play I look to my right and Andy Haught of Zeroking is stomping his feet as the band begins to play “She’s Lightning”. The song comes from the bands 2009 release ‘Novation’, and it’s a track that hasn’t been in their set list for a while. Moments into the song Andy takes to the stage and helps sing backing vocals for the track. Two amazing front men on stage at once it something you don’t often get to see. Needless to say the night ended as sweet as it started. Those who wasn’t there to witness this onslaught of metal truly missed out.
If you are in or around the region make sure to get out and support Zeroking as they play October 7th at The Blue Parrot in Charleston, WV with Catch 22 Metal and the debut of Charleston super group Sins Of The Father.
[For those of you that missed the show there will be some upcoming live footage from the show. So keep your eyes peeled here at Metal Nexus]