I arrived at the Wiltern at about 6 P.M. and, after a short bit of trouble regarding my position on the guest list, was allowed in. The Wiltern is a modest-sized venue and probably the smallest possible for a concert such as this (although I would have personally preferred something as small as the Troubadour or the Whisky).
The first band on the bill was called Asesino (Spanish for “Assassin”), a new band started by Brujeria guitarist Dino Cazares (whom is also known by the name ‘Asesino’). They proceeded to play loud speed metal reminiscent of Slayer (their set, in fact, included a good cover of “Raining Blood”) with everything sung entirely in Spanish. Their set was solid and set a good tone for the night.
Next up was the Austrian death metal band Belphegor, a band whom I knew absolutely nothing about and unfortunately don’t really need to now. Maybe it was an off-night for them, but they just couldn’t get an energetic show going. Every song seemed to sound exactly like the one before it (loud growls, lots of bass, and a chugging pace) and only the occasional high-pitched scream from vocalist Helmuth lent any intensity to their set. After what seemed like an eternity of growls and bass, they left the stage.
At this point, with two more acts to go before Danzig would take the stage, I was starting to become bored; I was really hoping for something sonically different to take the stage next in order to save me from passing out and my hopes were partially fulfilled. It came in the form of Swedish metal band the Haunted, whom apparently have quite a large following; I had yet to hear of them, though. They managed to pull me somewhat out of my daze primarily due to lead singer Peter Dolving’s intense and energetic stage presence. I’ve always preferred bands with vocalists free of any instrument-related constraints, and this is yet another perfect example of why. The band themselves were solid but nothing amazing, yet the energetic and inspired performance from their vocalist managed to make their set exciting and memorable. They left the stage to great applause from the audience and from this point on the night would only get better by the minute.
The next band to hit the stage was yet ANOTHER which I had known nothing about called Lacuna Coil, from Italy. They were a welcome change of pace from the other bands of the night and play a unique style of melodic metal tinged with gothic rock and even a small bit of nü-metal. The band consists of two vocalists: one female (the beautiful Christina Scabbia) and one male (Andrea Ferro), and this was the band’s primary strength. The standout (and not only due to her appearance, guys) was easily Christina; I would almost go as far as to say that she single-handedly made the band work. Her haunting voice echoed through the venue and left even the most jaded of audience members stunned. They played for probably about just under an hour before leaving the stage to be set for the headliners: Danzig.
I had seen Danzig only once before, in 2002 on the I Luciferi tour, and due to a poor venue and his less-than-wonderful backing band at the time I was disappointed. This time he had a new band, consisting of two members from metal band Type-O Negative and his former Samhain bandmate Steve Zing. This lineup sounded very promising and I had my hopes up for the best. Luckily for me, not even my wildest dreams could prepare me for what happened during their eventful and utterly surprising set. They took the stage and as they burst into “Skincarver” from the most recent Danzig album Circle of Snakes, a difference was immediately noticeable. The new members were much sharper and the playing sounded almost similar to the original `87-`94 Danzig lineup, which all Danzig fans know is a good thing. They went on to play “Black Mass,” “Circle of Snakes” and “I Luciferi” before suddenly disappearing into darkness, leaving everyone wondering what the hell was going on.
Then, to my gleeful delight, Glenn began screaming the intro to Samhain’s debut album Initium from the darkness before exploding into the song “Samhain!” Apparently Glenn decided this to be a good tour to add some Samhain to the set, given that Steve Zing was playing bass. They went on to play two more Samhain classics, “All Murder, All Guts, All Fun” and, my personal highlight of the show, “To Walk the Night.” This alone would have been enough to make this show a perfect 10, but it got better.
After the short Samhain set they went back into Danzig mode and went on to play beautiful versions of “How the Gods Kill,” “Left Hand Black,” “Twist of Cain” and “Mother.” After concluding “Mother” they left the audience waiting for the inevitable encore, which of course came within minutes. Glenn returned and asked the crowd if they wanted to hear “She Rides,” which they of course did. After that Glenn said that this was the part of the show where they usually ask what song the audience wants to hear, but that this time he had a special surprise for us instead (I was thinking, what could possibly top a Samhain set?). With that out came Doyle, dressed fully in classic Misfits gear, towering over the audience like some kind of monster. I wasn’t expecting this given that Glenn said after last year’s tour Doyle would not return for anymore shows. They proceeded to play flawless versions of “Skulls” and “Astro Zombies” before saying their final goodbyes and leaving the stage. I don’t think nights get anymore legendary than this.