By Andrew Bansal
May 26th 2014, Down & Out Bar, Los Angeles CA: Based out of Atlantic City NJ, metal quartet Hammer Fight are currently on a US tour and made their way to Los Angeles to headline Metal Monday at the Down & Out Bar in DTLA last night, along with local support acts Panties and Rusty Eye. Put together by prolific local metal promoters Church Of The 8th Day and Thee Static Age, the show promised an entertaining Monday night out for supporters of the metal underground in the area.
Hollywood’s very own horror-themed progressive metal trio Rusty Eye originated in Mexico City in 1995 and transitioned to becoming an LA band a decade later while still keeping their roots intact. Of late, they went through some lineup instabilities but are now getting back into the groove by playing the occasional local gigs, with original drummer/vocalist Miss Randall returning on the kit. Here they played an 8-song set consisting of three covers off of the latest Rusty Eye album ‘Saca El Cobre’, their all-covers tribute to a selection of Mexican music groups/artists, along with a few of their original tunes including a Spanish version of ‘Mr. Cannibal’. The covers are clearly targeted towards their Spanish-speaking fan base and for people unfamiliar with the original artists or the language, it’s a little hard to follow these tunes and takes a bit of getting used to. So for me, the original Rusty Eye tunes still stood out as the more enjoyable parts of the set, specially ‘Mr. Cannibal’ wherein Mr. Rust’s bass line is strongly reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris, and ‘Mondo Cane’ in which guitarist Baron Murtland gets to express himself fully as the band lays into some proggy jamming. Performance-wise, all three members were solid but it was clear to me that they can reach higher levels if they play on a more regular basis. Rusty Eye is undoubtedly an intriguing band in its own unique, weird ways, and it’s be good to see them back playing shows again.
Next up were Panties, a band I’d heard a lot about from folks in the LA underground circle but never got a chance to see live prior to last night. They took the stage with their drumkit covered all over with actual panties, and played a set of hardcore/crust punk with unapologetically disgusting, crude, offensive and raunchy lyrics, song titles and audio samples. While it certainly wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea, it made for an entertaining 30 minutes, and showed that the band is attempting to pursue something different from most other local bands, even those that play a similar musical style. Whether you’ll like or hate a band like Panties is totally up to personal taste and preference, but they’re definitely worth checking out in the live setting.
And at around 15 minutes past midnight, Hammer Fight rocked the stage with their brand of no-bullshit hard rock/heavy metal. They lit up the Down & Out with an immensely enjoyable set, and as soon as they started with their first song, it only took so much as an instant for anyone in the audience to begin appreciating what the band was doing on stage. They possessed elements of hard rock and thrash metal blended in with traditional metal-style guitar harmonies and a mixture of clean and growling vocals, and played tunes mostly off of their 2013 debut full-length album ‘Chug Of War’ plus a couple of new songs that will feature on the next release. Tunes like “Ruben’s Ride”, “Ginger Rails”, “Down The Line” and “Bar Room Bully” induced non-stop headbanging amongst true rockers in the crowd and left them gasping for more. It was my first time seeing Hammer Fight and based on the large amounts of sheer enjoyment they provided, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between them and one of my favorite bands, Gypsyhawk who also excel at treating audiences with good times and carry very similar lyrical themes and overall outlook. For me, Hammer Fight’s ‘boogie thrash’ makes them the Gypsyhawk of the East Coast. It would be absolutely great to see them visit our town with greater regularity, for their music and live showmanship certainly makes life better, but in the meanwhile, their studio album(s) shall be cranked at obscenely loud volumes.
Overall, kudos to the promoters for not only introducing us to the awesomeness of Hammer Fight and spotlighting two interesting local bands, but for providing a refreshing break for concert regulars like myself from going to Hollywood/Sunset Strip every night by building a scene in the downtown LA area.