FEBRUARY 6th 2014
Review by Anka
Photos by Peter Ruttan

Before I went to this show I said that if they manage to keep me awake I will give them a good review. And the verdict is: awake. The first big show of the year brought in quite an eager crowd, myself included. It had been a busy Thursday for most people but The Biltmore Cabaret was pretty packed and the energy levels were soaring.
I've known the opening band Ogroem for a little while now and I think it's another notable presence in the Vancouver metal scene. Their brutal, riffy death metal with technical and grind touches is lethal for the unwary ear, and it feels like a caffeine injection for tired minds like mine. I arrived at the venue just in time to get my “Ogroem shot” because I was a bit late and I only managed to see a little part of their set. I think this band was the heaviest and most extreme of the night - interesting to see them open the show in force like that, by the time Toxic Holocaust finished playing, their own music sounded surprisingly playful and jolly.  
Joke aside, the next band we got to see was Ramming Speed. These guys are like the energizer bunnies of thrash. Truthfully, this special metallic blend of grind, punk and thrash leaves no room for rest and quiet observation. Through ongoing rhythm alternations, hooks and rapid shifts from melodic leads to harsh grind sections, they left no corner of the stage uncovered and quickly stirred up the moshpit after only a few tracks. Their overall sound was quite bassy this time (intentional or not) and this added a dose of heaviness I was not expecting after hearing their albums - but this is by no means a complaint!  
Mammoth Grinder, the third band to take the stage, was quite an unknown name to me before this show. The group hailing from Texas has a pretty striking live presence, displaying varied nuances from punk to sludge and hardcore incorporated in their ruthless death metal with cavernous sounding vocals. Overall their set seemed to have settled the pace a little, but that is not to say the madness and the speed weren’t there.  From grooves and raucous riffs to sludgy breakdowns, it's all a great time on stage as it is in the pit, and the Vancouver fans got an overload of moshing fuel out of this. 

With such openers warming up the crowd, you can expect Toxic Holocaust to tear the place apart. From the very first riffs, crowd surfers attempted to get closer to the stage but in that chaos, few can survive…I mean surf. Granted, the venue is not exactly moshpit friendly and this gives the performances an intimate but borderline insane feel during such shows. With a band like Toxic Holocaust on the very low stage of the Biltmore and without a conscious separation between the crowd and the band, this is where the energy is amplified to epic proportions. The over an hour long thrashing marathon fired up the metalheads with super-fast hooks and rampant rhythms delivered in an assertive manner à la Toxic Holocaust. As serious as it might sound, the general feel is nothing like the tension and anger you’d perceive in similar bands. I am still not sure if the opening bands influenced my experience, but I’ve seen Toxic Holocaust before, and I can say there's a little something for everyone in their performance, from the old school thrash vibe to the crossover punk; it’s aggressive, but it’s so much fun!