Corrosion of Conformity / Torche / Black Cobra / Gaza Opera House, Toronto ON June 21

Corrosion of Conformity / Torche / Black Cobra / Gaza Opera House, Toronto ON June 21
Although on a hot, humid Thursday night, this show featured a stacked lineup that, for the most part, was definitely worth checking out.

Starting things off, Salt Lake City's Gaza performed their half-hour set as if they were headliners, with more energy and aggression than can be hoped for from any live show. It's a shame that the hardcore/grind band performed first, as not many people were there early enough to witness their mind-blowing performance. "He Is Never Coming Back" sparked some intense emotion before vocalist Jon Parkin hopped off stage to perform the rest of the set on the floor -- among the meagre crowd -- including some new tracks off Gaza's forthcoming record, No Absolutes in Human Suffering, such as the thought-provoking "Not with All the Hope in the World."

Bay Area duo Black Cobra played next, with a stage backdrop that was more impressive than their actual performance. Featuring guitarist/vocalist Jason Landrian (ex-Cavity) and drummer Rafa Martinez (ex-16, ex-Acid King), the band's version of punk/hardcore-infused sludge was a disappointment considering the members' incredible work in their previous bands.

However, Miami's Torche brought things back up to speed, with their incredible talent and one of this year's best albums to back them up. "Letting Go" and "Kicking," off of their new record Harmonicraft, are lively, upbeat tracks that enticed the crowd, as vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks's vocal harmonies were intoxicating. The pop hook-laden hard rock from Torche was a departure from the rest of the bands on the bill, but it was a welcome one, as many danced and swayed to the intricate melodies and catchy rhythms, and banged their heads during moments of ultra heaviness, such as during "Charge of the Brown Recluse," from the band's 2005 self-titled LP. Torche ended their set perfectly with "Healer," off of their phenomenal sophomore album Meanderthal.

It didn't take too long for North Carolina's Corrosion of Conformity to grace the stage. The Animosity-era lineup of bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, guitarist Woody Weatherman and drummer Reed Mullin were on point throughout their set, garnering much admiration from the eager audience. Performing tracks spanning their catalogue, the trio played many songs from their latest self-titled album, including "Psychic Vampire" and "Rat City." But it was some of their Animosity tracks that really got the crowd going, as "Consumed" and "Holier" made it seem like 27 years hadn't passed since those crushing songs were recorded. Although the legendary Pepper Keenan wasn't a part of the new album and this tour, watching these three perform live with such energy and enthusiasm was inspiring.