Dallas, TX hard rock mainstays Drowning Pool graced Sparkle City with their presence on Tuesday, May 28 at local hall of rock Ground Zero. Fresh off the release of a new album, the men of Drowning Pool have been on the road in promotion of the release, titled Resilience, bringing along an entourage comprised of other talented bands. Since the introduction of new vocalist Jasen Moreno, fans and critics of Drowning Pool (DP) have been on edge about how the young vocalist will fare against the intense reputation pre-established by prior vocalists David Williams, Jason Jones, and (most recently) Ryan McCombs. Ground Zero was abuzz with excitement and anticipation as fans prepared for the commencement of events and a fresh look at the controversial new DP front man.
What can easily be considered a successful show all around did have its stand out moments and “shining stars,” if you will. Spartanburg’s own Ghost in the Machine is always a welcomed presence to the Ground Zero stage, delivering a soulful, southern sound accented with impassioned instrumentals. These guys are not only some of the nicest you will ever meet, they’re also great musicians that love their scene. By all accounts, they came packing their A-game for this gig and it showed. Charlotte, N.C rockers Another Lost Year (ALY) were up next and came ready to impress. These guys got the crowd on their feet and stirred up. Bringing a one-two punch of resounding drums and bass paired with poignant vocals and lyrics, ALY delivered a moving (physically and at times emotionally) performance to the masses. Songs like “Writing On The Wall” and their latest single “War On The Inside,” demonstrated ALY’s commitment to music with purpose, featuring messages of hope and inspiration.
Even The Dead Love A Parade (ETDLP) showed the crowd how to move with their pure metal montage. This Dallas, TX quintet apparently have more in common with DP than a hometown. It would seem that every member of ETDLP has at some point (or is currently) a DP crew member (most notably DP bassist Stevie Benton), so they have obviously had the exposure and opportunity to develop their style. Stage presence was great with front man Jordan Condery visibly digging deep for his aggression and zeal and Clint Litton eagerly and happily pounding the drums. ETDLAP were a charming and creative addition to the bill that definitely caught the attention of many in the throng. Coming all the way from Milan, Italy to melt faces was Exilia and their fiery front woman, Masha Msymane. Exilia was a standout of the night because of their intricate string work, catastrophic drum/bass combo, and Msymane’s vocal duality. Resounding in a fashion similar to Maria Brink of In This Moment, Msymane combines a softer echoic vocal style with brute force screams, at times even reminiscent of Kittie’s Morgan Lander in the “Brackish” days. Head banging and moshing commenced as the Italian metal force confronted the crowd with their onslaught of alt-metal mastery.
Then, poignant yet powerful melocore rockers Eye Empire (EE) hit the stage and the crowd was ready and waiting. The dynamic quartet is always a pleasure to see live with their progressive and versatile sound, crowd engagement, and charisma, EE leaves holds nothing back from their audience. Vocalist Donald “DC” Carpenter’s visceral stage performance and engagement compounded with the hair raising (and slinging) action of guitarist BC Kochmit, the stage hopping, bass slapping action from Corey Lowery, and the drum pummeling shenanigans of Ryan Bennett make for an all-out throwdown on stage. Despite the performance of songs like “Idiot” and “Bull In A China Shop,” which feature heavier, more forceful tones and lyrics, the guys of EE are like the Buddha(s) of rock. Promoting a sense of community over hostility and unity versus combativeness, EE has made it their mission to unify the rock/metal scene nationwide by bolstering their trademark motto of Love, Support and Respect in the scene. Still high on the success of their last album “Impact,” it seems the guys are planning on following that up with a new release to be announced later this year.
A moment of calm, background music plays through the PA and scattered conversations fill the air. Then, Diesel from 93.3 The Planet comes onstage and makes the announcement everyone’s been waiting for- Drowning Pool is coming. The band makes their way on stage and get into position trailed by an all-smiles Moreno waving to the crowd and they begin. Bursting out from the jump into “Step Up,” DP crashed right into the crowd with Moreno and guitarist CJ Pierce getting right into their faces and interacting with the first few rows. Listening to the “new” DP, one can’t help but think that perhaps those that harshly judged Moreno’s capabilities may have been a bit hasty (or biased). Whenever a band goes through line up changes, there is bound to be some stylistic changes as well and DP is no exception. Considering the extensive past the band has had, with Moreno being their fourth vocalist in over a ten year span, he had some big shoes to fill, most notoriously those of original front man Dave Williams and the recently replaced Ryan McCombs.
On May 28, 2013, Jasen Moreno proved to all who attended that their faith and that of the rest of DP was not misplaced with him. Moreno proved himself to be an astounding performer, charmer, and the possibly the ideal combination of styles from the DP history. While he lacks the uber deep and gravely tone of McCombs, his vocal range and durability make that an acceptable tradeoff. The band incorporated old DP staples in with newer tracks from the recently released Resilience and the crowd was eating up. Where once many had waited with bated breath in anticipation of what was in store, they now cheered and moshed in excitement and acceptance. Reaching as far back as Sinner, DP pulled out songs like “Reminded,” “37 Stitches,” “Feel Like I Do” and, of course, closed with “Bodies.” Losing their minds and bodies to the savage track that has long acted as one of the anthems of metal heads worldwide, the masses went rabid, erupting in waves of jumping, moshing, and crashing, the likes of which had not been seen all night.
In the world/school of rock, Drowning Pool has graduated from juniors to seniors with their fourth transition into a new era for the band since 1999 and continuing to roll with the tide. For anyone who thought that DP would ever simply cease to be, the band’s feelings can best be conveyed via a quote from that night by the hilariously animated Mike Luce (drums),
” We’re like a bunch of g**d*mn cockroaches and Twinkies. We’re not going away!”
Be sure to follow the links to find out more about each band from the show- find them, like them, buy their stuff, support the music!