Finland's doom/death dealers Swallow the Sun started the night off with a drawn-out and very heavy set of atmospheric crunch. Their keyboard player had one of those hilarious, grim Finnish black metal looks on his face (sans corpsepaint and long hair), which was humourous and disturbing at the same time. His look encapsulated their set: dark, forlorn wrist-slitting material. Awesome.
German traditional metal legends Accept hit the stage running, playing classics like "Metal Heart," "Up to the Limit" and "Restless and Wild," but they were particularly stoked to hit up new material from Stalingrad, their most recent album. New singer Mark Tornillo did a great job of making us forget about original spitfire Udo Dirkschneider, bandying about the stage with his long mullet hanging out the back of his leather hat and getting the crowd to chant along. Sound quality-wise, these guys were so crunchy that during "Shadow Soldiers," a mid-tempo stomper, their whole merch booth came tumbling down on top of their unfortunate roadie. The choreographed triple-axe attack during their encore of "Balls to the Wall" (surprise!) was particularly enjoyable.
Kreator had some live shoes to fill after recently releasing Phantom Antichrist, one of the best metal album of 2012 so far. They did not disappoint. Opening with the title track, the band fed right into the sweeping epic "From Flood into Fire." It didn't take long for a huge circle pit to form, something that pleased singer/guitarist Mille Petrozza to no end.
By the time Kreator got into some of their thrash classics, like "Extreme Aggression," "Pleasure to Kill" and "Endless Pain," the floor of the Rickshaw was a slip-and-slide of beer and sweat. There were some casualties. Like the guy that face-planted into the muck and just lay there for a minute until his thrash buddies scooped him up, and the poor girl who got absolutely levelled by a burly stage diver. And even though the mosh pit code of helping out your fellow metal minions was squarely in place, Kreator always bring an extra element of danger (might have something to do with Petrozza's pro-violence pre-song pep talks).
A "wall of death," where both sides of the club separate and then pummel into each other on command, was the climax of Kreator's mayhem. And then, just when you thought the fun was over, they finished with an inexplicably fast and proficient version of "Tormentor," perhaps the quintessential speed metal song.
Massive ups to the two guys raising the goat horns — yes, actual goat horns — in the middle of the pit.