Spades & Blades/Better Left Unsaid

I arrived at the Tonic to see the parking lot full of Vans and the bands setting up, the crowd beginning to trickle through the door as the night began. Opening act Spades and Blades are a self-proclaimed progressive metalcore band and they threw down like they were playing in front of an arena crowd in the tiny room at the Tonic, with Vocalist Jason Todd working the room, playing to each person with a styled ease. They got the night off to a thrashy start with their combination of heavy and melodic riffs and vocals. Formed in 2006 and Hailing from sunny Los Angeles, California I had a chance to talk to them later and not only did they have incredible and energetic stage presence they were honestly humble and happy to be included on this epic tour and driven to play their hearts out every single night. They are touring in support of their record “The End is Near” released on Sullen Musik.

After a brief set change Better Left Unsaid tear onto the stage, hailing from Modesto, California, the band has become a West Coast and even national touring presence and they bring to the stage a violent energy, with clean melodies and brutal breakdowns delivered by the band.  BLU is fronted by Adam Raffety who shows a versatile and diverse range as well as a lively stage performance.  The backbone of the band is the impeccable timing by drummer Brent Terry on his monstrous Crush kit. Known for their constant touring, this band is one that has built a steady following in many areas through pure determination and a dedication to the road that few bands can tolerate and survive.  Better Left Unsaid has become a touring machine and has played with nearly every major metal outfit in past and recent history as well as a previous stint on Stillborn Records and a video in rotation on Headbanger’s Ball. They’re now on the road in direct support of Incite on the ‘Up in Hell Tour’ With the June release of their self-titled album on Epochal Artists Records/Capital Music Group. Only a week into the tour, Better Left Unsaid got the crowd moving with their blend of technical thrash metal punctuated by groove laden melodies, and it definitely brought the energy in the room up and made for an interesting Thursday night of metal at the Tonic!

Finally Phoenix, Arizona’s Incite takes the stage, and while many people are initially attracted to this band due to the frontman’s last name (Richie Cavalera) and while having the good fortune of being managed by the notorious maternal metal tribe head, Gloria Cavalera, this band hasn’t had a free ride. They are out there in the trenches paying their dues like any other independent band. This headlining tour is in support of and named after their third full-length album “Up In Hell,” and with this release they have substantiated their name as a force in heavy metal.  The band rips into their set and unquestionably decimates the room in the process, in constant motion Richie moves frenetically, headbanging and jumping four feet in the air and moving rapidly across the stage. Lennon Lopez thrashes his drum set and sets a furious pace and you can tell this band works the stage with a synergy that is apparent with every screamed word. While there wasn’t a lot of crowd participation they worked their way viciously through their set, I was literally spent at the end. I don’t care who this guy is related to, he held his own on that stage, and so did the rest of the bands.

This is a fantastic tour pairing and although the crowd could have been larger and more energetic, the drive of the artists made up for it. Overall it was a great night, a good time was had by all, the Tonic kicked ass with their strong drinks and great service, the sound in the room was excellent, and local regulars 36 Crazyfists were in the house just off a successful European tour and supporting their recent tour mates in Incite. I had a fantastic night on what would otherwise have been a quiet Thursday in PDX. My only complaint the entire night the lighting and dominant red stage, making shooting pictures difficult; but in all honesty it was more because I was so busy banging my head.  The following day a bangover was definitely experienced by this writer.