CONCERT REVIEW: Vio-Lence – Skeletal Remains – Fueled By Fire – Phantom Witch Live and Outside at Line 51 Brewing

It was the second of two days in a row in Oakland for the Live and Outside concert series produced by the Oakland Underworld Metro Opera House at Line 51 Brewing. I had barely recovered from seeing YOB the night before when it was time to head back over to Line 51 Brewing, but this time for some Thrash and Death Metal greatness. Although I ended up getting there early, there were many more people here today than for yesterday’s smaller, but also intense show.

Bay Area’s local thrashers Phantom Witch opened the show with a high-energy set, going hard from start to finish. There were immediate circle pits and even some fans yelling along to their songs! Playing some of their early jams and new songs from their recent album Forced To Worship, and in terms of a fun show, see these guys when they come to your town.

Fueled By Fire, from Los Angeles, got met with a couple of “Dodgers suck” from the agitated Giants and A’s fans up front, but that was the last chance to talk smack today. Fueled By Fire’s twi axe attack and vibrant Thrash and Heavy Metal worship is hard to beat for non-stop action, fast tempos, and great songwriting. I really enjoyed their patter between songs, not the usual “how is everyone out there” and “put up your horns, let me see em!” stuff that is kind of stale and obvious. A tight and strong performance, through and through.

Bring in the Death Metal contingent – Skeletal Remains are as professional as they come. Big is the word: big songs, big stage presence, big banner, big-time merch. The band’s beefy riffs had the crowd going crazy – hella active moshpits that were some of the most raucous of the day and constant headbanging. It’s fun to watch a band so confident and brutal.

35 years after their debut album, Eternal Nightmare, Vio-lence is still destroying stages. While the lineup definitely has taken a new shape, they seemed invigorated by the summertime air and rabid fans. The hometown crowd was sick and it was shades of a similar show last year.


The band ripped through song – after song from their debut and both vocalist Sean Killian and guitarist Phil Demmel shared some stories about each song and even paid tribute to most of the former members of the band. Current bassist Cristian Olde-Wohlbers (ex-Fear Factory, Powerflo) has been great over the last few years. New live additions Ira Black on rhythm and lead guitar and drummer Adrian Aguilar (Exmortus, ex Void Vater) was positively dominant on the drums.

The set was high energy with Sean bringing back the “World in a World” turtleneck look, but he also had hardcore vibes jumping into the crowd at one point. After the full album set, the band also played some of their biggest songs and even one from their recent EP on Metal Blade – “Let The World Burn!” Demmel is definitely pulling back from hardcore touring with the band, but local shows are a safe bet for him to keep rocking out. He is a brilliant genius of metal guitar, so it’s understandable. Here’s hoping the band can keep playing the hits and maybe make some new music again soon.


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