Whiplash - The Observatory - July 3, 2013

Categories: live review

Alex Distefano
The Observatory
July 3, 2013

The crowd wasn't as big as it should have been or could have been in Santa Ana, at the Observatory's Constellation Room on Wednesday night, as two bands made their first-ever appearances in Orange County. Hailing from the East Coast, old school thrash metal band Whiplash (from New Jersey), and hardcore punk metal/crossover band Iron Regan(from Virginia) both made debut appearances to around 100 dedicated fans who stuck around till well after midnight to witness these bands for the first time.

Opening the show was New Jersey up and coming, metal band Thanatonic Desire, who unfortunately, played to only several people, as the room was barely half full as people slowly started showing up for the next three bands. The band played a tight solid set of songs that sounded like a style that was half Death half Iron Maiden inspired.

Up next was local LA thrashers, Witchaven, a band from LA/Orange and San Bernardino Counties, this band skillfully blasted a mix of thrash, black metal, punk and death metal into a uniform sound that was a good warm up for the next two bands. Imagine. Paying tribute to bands like Venom, Kreator, Death, Celtic Frost and even Slayer, singer and guitarist Henry Montoya had the primitive, fierce voice and stage presence of a young Tom Araya. The kids up front loved this dark mix of brutality, speed metal riffs, and heavy crushing bass and drums. This band is one of the hardest working younger bands of LA, who tour constantly, and will play with any punk/metal bands out there. Witchaven is a staple in the underground DIY extreme metal/punk scene of Southern California.

Alex Distefano
Iron Reagan took the stage next, to a floor that was still barely beginning to fill with heads. But as the band's backdrop of a huge logo of our 40th president and a pile of skulls was presented the band came out and tore into a set full of a hybrid between hardcore punk, thrash and crossover. This band is from the Richmond, Virginia extreme music scene and features two members of Darkest Hour (drummer Ryan Parish and bassist Paul Burnette) and two members from Municipal Waste (Landphil on bass and Tony Forresta on vocals). Iron Reagan played songs that were short, caustic and to the point with a neck breaking speed that finally invoked a circle pit to form as the band waged on with a very thrash influenced punk vibe that got kids moving. This is a band for fans of the Cro Mags, DRI, and Cryptic Slaughter and of course Municipal Waste. For the band's first ever appearance in California and the West Coast, the size of this crowd was good but not great.

Whiplash took the stage around 11:20 p.m. and performed an unyielding 90-minute set of old school melodic speed metal the band is known for. It's quite a wonder for a thrash metal band from the East Coast to have been such an important part the scene in the mid 80s, to never have played to Southern California diehards, who moshed and head banged with the band for every song.

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