Photos and story by Robert Forte
Earlier this month Living Wreckage, which includes Shadows Fall veterans Jon Donais (Shadows Fall, Anthrax) and Matt Bachand, (Shadows Fall, Act of Defiance) made their live performance debut at Geraldine's Live Music Bar and Grille in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
Shadows Fall's DNA actually runs deep within Living Wreckage. Guitarist Matt LeBreton also played alongside Shadows Fall vocalist Brian Fair in Downpour and as it turns out, singer Jeff Gard previously replaced Fair in Death Ray Vision, a hardcore punk and thrash metal outfit that includes Killswitch Engage bassist, Mike D'Antonio.
Living Wreckage's lineup is rounded out by drummer Jon Morency who also plays in the Boston area power thrash metal band, LET US PREY.
Considering the lineage of the band one might expect Living Wreckage's sonics to fit somewhere in between late 90's metalcore, thrash and or power metal.
Although that assumption wouldn't be entirely incorrect, Living Wreckage seems more focused on taking their audiences on a journey that's much more musically aligned with say, Pantera's Cowboys from Hell period and or the John Bush led era of Anthrax.
Much like any band that has played few, if any, live shows, Living Wreckage's inaugural performance included a select number of originals as well as a few recognizable covers that served to instantly bond the band with those fans in attendance.
Living Wreckage kicked things off out in Western Massachusetts with an incendiary take on Pantera's, “Cowboys From Hell.”
The band's performance of the metal classic spoke to the fact that the musicianship that exists within Living Wreckage will easily allow them to be much more than just your average hard rock, thrash and or metal band. Additionally “Cowboy's From Hell's” attitude and for a lack of a better term, “fun,” nature played right into what appeared to be Living Wreckage's wheelhouse all night long.
Other covers played on the evening included a spirited run at the Guns N' Roses classic, “My Michelle,” a fervid take on the Van Halen staple, “Unchained,” which was highlighted by the torrid guitar work of both Donais and LeBreton, an upbeat version of Led Zeppelin's, “Immigrant Song,” as well as a head turning vocal performance by Gard on Soundgarden's “Outshined.”
Speaking of the band's vocalist, Gard may very well turn out to be the secret weapon that vaults Living Wreckage into the current mainstream of popular metal.
The Berklee College of Music schooled vocalist possesses a range few singers have within their arsenal. Whether it's gut wrenching screams that induce listeners to start make shift mosh pits or the kind of high pitch wails that leave fans groveling for more, Gard can deliver on any and all fronts.
As entertaining as some of the covers were it was Living Wreckage's originals that stood out as the biggest highlight from the band's first ever live show.
“Breaking Point,” the debut single Living Wreckage released earlier this spring, was buoyed by both Donais's and LeBreton's irascible riffs as well as Gard's crushing vocals.
Other originals such as “End of the Line” and “Sink Below” showcased not only Living Wreckage's voltaic stage chemistry but the band's innate ability to cleverly mix catchy hooks, pyretic solos & melodic harmonies to create a sound that comes across as both eerily familiar and entirely new.
Fans should expect more of same from Living Wreckage when their debut album, produced and engineered by Shane Frisby (Unearth, Bury Your Dead) and mixed by Pete Rutcho (Revocation, Falling in Reverse) hits shelves sometime later this year.
If there was one final takeaway from Living Wreckage's debut show it would have had to have been the sheer amount of joy displayed by the band throughout their entire performance.
Donais, whose demeanor is often very serious when he plays live with Anthrax, seemed to smile more in his 90 minutes on stage with Living Wreckage than perhaps I've seen him smile in his entire tenure with his Big 4 brethren.
Shortly following the show I asked Donais about the perpetual state of happiness the band seemed to be locked into presently and his response was simply, “There's just something different about playing your own music.”
Living Wreckage have a number of live shows booked this summer including another stop at Geraldine's Live Music Bar and Grille in Chicopee, MA this upcoming July 2nd.