Dublin Death Patrol
The Underworld, Camden, London
18th June 2007
All Pics and Review by HannTu
Normally I’d start out a review by saying “This band needs no introduction”, but in this case, I feel that it’s necessary. Why? I’ll come to that later, let’s get the easy part out of the way first. Dublin Death Patrol is a thrash band from Dublin, California, but it’s not any ordinary thrash band, not by a long shot. Firstly, it counts among its personnel former and current members of Testament, Exodus, Vio-lence, Laaz Rockit, Tesla and Rampage. The main faces of the band surely must be the two frontmen: Chuck Billy and Steve “Zetro” Souza, huge players in the fledgling Bay Area thrash scene back in the 80s. Now you’d think that that would be reason enough to go for a DDP show. But among their ranks you will find Tesla mainstay and drummer Troy Lucketta, Laaz Rockit bassist Willy Langenhuizen (or Willy Lange for short), and Eddie Billy, brother of Chuck and former bassist for Vio-lence. You will also find Chuck and Eddie’s brother Andy on guitar, and Steve’s brother John on bass.
The other unique thing is that this “band” is the product of a reunion of a group of close knit friends from Dublin, California back in the late 70s and 80s – the young ruffians who got into fights in barns and backyards as kids, and then later played in high school punk/metal bands in those very same barns and backyards; the same high-spirited youths who in their own words swapped guitars and girlfriends with equal veracity. Some of those friends would go on to major things, some wouldn’t. More than two decades on, this band of not-so-young men decided, very appropriately in a Hooters restaurant, to rekindle and reunite that group once again. They called themselves the Dublin Death Patrol.
Dublin Death Patrol
This was an unusual gig in so many ways. Earlier, if you remember, I said this band needed some introduction, even though it had Steve Souza and Chuck Billy in it, who I consider Tier 1 metal legends. Well, the reason why I thought it necessary to introduce them was the frankly poor numbers that turned out to watch what I think may be my top live experience of 2007. Barely a hundred metalheads turned up to partially fill the Underworld, which is an extremely tiny venue. Unbelievably, even at ten minutes to 7 when the doors were meant to open, there were only two people in line, Mark and I, and we’d both been there since 5.
Although the doors were meant to open at 7, we only got into the venue at about 8-ish. Once we got inside, we found out that Violent Storm, the opening act had cancelled (reading Anders’ review of Heaven and Hell in Copenhagen, I see that Violent Storm were meant to open there but cancelled as well – I wonder what happened to them). This unfortunately meant that we were stuck inside the venue for another hour or so waiting for DDP to come out. Tempers were running slightly high at that point, out of frustration at the poor communication the venue had with the punters, and also at the poor turnout. Lack of publicity? Thanks to Ashand for drawing my attention to this gig, it would have slipped my attention as well if it hadn’t been for him – in the maelstrom of the London metal scene, promotion is simply essential and I feel that DDP would have drawn a bigger crowd if the London metalheads had known who was playing. This is in spite of the fact that Megadeth played on Saturday, Ozzy plays tomorrow (Tuesday) and Iron Maiden play this Sunday, and it is realistic that finances for some people may be somewhat low. Shocking numbers really.
However, all the negative vibes and frustration flew out of sight the moment the lumbering figure of Chuck Billy appeared on stage, followed by the manic Steve Souza. To see Chuck in such health and vitality excited a lot of emotion, we’re all reminded of the trauma he went through with his cancer, and his less-lucky namesake Chuck Schuldiner of Death, who died of cancer. Steve too has had his ups-and-downs, leaving Exodus under a cloud. But all that was forgotten once they launched into their setlist, culled mainly from their new album DDP 4 LIFE.
Kicking off with the stomping “R.I.P.”, the vocal partnership of Steve and Chuck really does work amazingly well. Their long association with one another as well as numerous tours together means that they are comfortable with each other on stage, an unseen telepathic connection that is magic when seen live. The rest of the band is remarkably tight, they must have practised like fuck to get in tune with each other, when you consider there are two vocalists, a drummer, a bassist and two guitarists (later to become three when John Hartsinck joined the other two onstage).
To be brutally honest, their album DDP 4 LIFE isn’t really that good. A review of it will be coming out here on Metal-Rules in July, but suffice to say it doesn’t break new ground in thrash. What IS apparent though, is that the band have had tremendous fun making the album, and that they’re having tremendous fun touring and performing live. The chemistry onstage is really something to behold. A great rousing performance of “DDP 4 Life” and a cover of the Michael Schenker song “Lights Out”, as well as a nostalgic inclusion of “Alone in the Dark” from the very first Testament album THE LEGACY. Motorhead’s “Iron Fist” got a decent going over, as did Thin Lizzy’s “Cold Sweat”. “Devil in Disguise” is a nice slow emotional number, that just begs for some raised lighters and a sea of hands clapping in unison. All we got in the Underworld was a solitary lighter and scattered clapping, but who the fuck cares?
Closing the night out with “Unnatural Causes”, an awesome fast number that evokes memories of the great heyday of thrash, Steve, Chuck and a few of the other guys stayed behind to shake hands and chitchat. There was also a surprise guest with the band, Nevermore and former Testament guitarist Steve Smyth who watched from the back of the room. Unfortunately I didn’t get to talk to him, as there were some things about Nevermore that I would’ve loved to have had a chinwag about.
However, some of us followed Steve Souza back up to the World’s End pub to have a drink and a chat. I have to say all the guys in the band were amazing, posing for photos and having a word with everyone. However, Steve must definitely be one of the most down-to-earth people I’ve ever met. Humble, patient, personable, and brimming with passion, the group of us spent 40 minutes with the dude talking about his times in Exodus to the desecration and commercialisation of Dimebag’s memory, to the future of DDP, to the upcoming album by Testament. During this time, he was constantly interrupted by requests for autographs and photographs, and not a single complaint from him. Instead a quick word, a smile, a firm handshake and then back to whatever he was saying. He even practised his Spanish on a couple of guys from Venezuela and Chile. What a guy.
The evening started off really shit, but it’s a testament (Pun! Boooo!) to the quality of the performance, the passion shown by the guys on stage and the utter friendliness of the one and only Steve Souza that really redeemed the evening a hundred times over. A heartfelt plea to Exodus to fucking sort their shit out and come back to London complete with Steve, and tear the fuck out of this place again. Also, best of luck to the guys in DDP, I can say 100% that everyone who turned up appreciated you coming over, and had a great time thrashing along. Lastly, there will be a new Testament album out in March, so fingers crossed. DDP for LIFE!
2. Iron Fist
3. Sid Vicious
4. Pigs in the Hollow
5. DDP 4 Life
6. Cold Sweat
7. Thunder and Lightning
8. Devil in Disguise
9. Mentally Unstable
10. Lights Out
11. Alone In the Dark
13. Unnatural Causes