Benefit for Bret Hoffman, Rockin’ Buffalo Saloon, West Seneca, NY, July 21, 2018

Bret Hoffman
Bret Hoffman
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Benefit for Bret Hoffman

Rockin’ Buffalo Saloon

West Seneca, NY
July 21, 2018

Review by Infamous Butcher, Photos by SheWolf

On July 7 we lost one of the greatest metal vocalists of all time, Bret Hoffman (Malevolent Creation, Resthaven, Fire For Effect). Truly a gifted singer, Bret’s voice was always immediately recognizable and no man on earth could match his mind-boggling lung capacity. It seemed natural for him to hold a growl or scream for 15 seconds or more, surpassing the ferocity of the music and whipping the crowd into a savage frenzy! As great as a performer as he was, he was equally a wonderful human being. Kind, generous, and genuine, Bret treated everyone the same whether he just met you after a show or had been your friend for 40 years. A Malevolent Creation fan since 1992, I was lucky enough to get to know Bret a little through my friend Jim Nickles and by working for Metal Rules. When I heard Bret had stage 4 colon cancer in early May, it hit me like a ton of bricks. A benefit concert was quickly put together by his wife Kim to help with medical bills. Sadly, Bret did not live long enough to attend the benefit, but today we are all at the Rockin’ Buffalo Saloon to honor him. 3 Buffalo area bands are playing today, death/thrash stalwarts Hellcannon, metal cover band Metal 101, and Judas Priest tribute band Call for the Priest. Sounds like a great mix of metal featuring some of Bret’s favorites! BRING IT! TASTE THE BLOOD SMELL THE VICTORY IN THE AIR!

The Rockin Buffalo Saloon is this great metal bar in West Seneca, right outside of Buffalo. I’ve been here before to see Resthaven. You walk in and there is a bar to your left, games over to the right. Straight ahead is the performance room with the stage. Room is mostly standing room with a few tables and stools on the sides. Sound system was powerful and clear, our ears were ringing late into the night! Stage is decent sized and about 2 feet off the ground. Lighting was not much of an issue since the event was during daylight hours. Turnout was good, around 200 people I’d say. Mood was positive and upbeat, there was a vibe of celebrating and remembering Bret, and I think he would have liked that. Shirts that featured a picture of Bret that my wife had taken were being sold and there were gift baskets being raffled and a 50/50 raffle. Also, door prizes were some vinyl albums from Bret’s personal collection, very cool. It was great to see our friends, we go out to Buffalo usually once a year for Vile Records Fest (VROAF), but there isn’t one this summer.


Time for some rip snorting death thrash from the wasteland! Let me tell you, these local boys can fucking shred! The four piece is comprised of Ryan Fiorita (guitar, vocals), Jim Nickles (lead guitar), Joe Liesing (bass) and Marcus London (drums). Before starting Ryan asked the crowd to give it up for Bret, and we responded triumphantly! Taking off with the instrumental “Arrival” and then blasting into “The Wasteland Remains”, Hellcannon wasted no time in kicking our asses! Ryan set the tone and commanded the stage, spewing forth venomous growls and vicious riffs. Jim (former member of Malevolent Creation and Hellwitch) is a fluid guitarist, his riffs and solos just ooze out of him with power, speed, and intricate technical skill. The thumping low end was handled by Joe and Marcus, trigger free, natural bashing and bloodshed! After every song Ryan asked us to scream for Bret, ever reminding us why we were there, to honor our fallen brother. Set was mostly material from 2017’s RETURN TO THE WASTELAND, with a few songs from the 2014 EP TERMINAL. I loved the very heavy riffing of “Disarmed and Deceased”, really gets me fired up! Was looking for some mutual combatants to start a pit but people were more relaxed, drinking beer, taking it all in, so I had to be satisfied with headbanging. Another highlight was “Road Warriors’ which Ryan and Jim dedicated to Bret, saying that the song is about the rock and roll / metal lifestyle and Bret definitely embodied that. If Bret had been there, I’m sure he would have been on stage to provide the backing vocals as he did on the album. Crowd response for Hellcannon was the best of the night and the room was more packed for them than any of the other bands. This very talented band has it all and just needs an opening to break into the big time. These guys should be the opening band for next year’s Testament / Overkill / Suicidal Tendencies / Death Angel tour, it would be a perfect fit and great exposure. Would also love to see them at Maryland DeathFest. Catch these guys live when you can! RAIDERS OF THE WASTE!


The Wasteland Remains


Day of Demise

Disarmed and Deceased

Blood Moon Rising

Road Warriors

Gate Between Realms

For Those Who Have Betrayed Us






Up next was local cover band Metal 101, who impressed me immediately by playing the opening track of Malevolent Creation’s TEN COMMANDMENTS, “Memorial Arrangements”! In fact, it was the only MC song played that night. I was thrilled that they did that for Bret, no one did the spoken lyrics but it was like they left that for Bret to handle. After that, Metal 101 kept our attention with a rousing version of Venom’s “Countess Bathory” that had lots of people singing along to the chorus! Back in the day I discovered this song when Unleashed covered it. The band was very tight and together and seemed to be having a great time. Next was on to Pantera’s “Walk”, and even though some of the old school metal purists lost interest, I thought it was a good version. Metal 101 said they were intent on playing the heaviest songs they know, so we did get a double shot each of Slayer (another key influence for Bret) and Megadeth. I thought Metal 101 were at their best covering Prong’s “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” (YOU WANT THE GOOD LIFE!), Motorhead’s timeless “Ace of Spades” and Megadeth’s “Reckoning Day”, kind of an obscure Megadeth tune and they fucking nailed it! I think even Mustaine himself would have been happy with that one! Very enjoyable set and I would like to see these guys again. Curious what other stuff they might have in their repertoire.

Memorial Arrangements (Malevolent Creation)

Countess Bathory (Venom)

Walk (Pantera)

Refuse/Resist (Sepultura)

Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck (Prong)

Bodies (Drowning Pool)

Ace of Spades (Motorhead)

Seasons in the Abyss (Slayer)

Dead Skin Mask (Slayer)

Reckoning Day (Megadeth)

Peace Sells (Megadeth)


The last band tonight was Call For the Priest, very fitting because Bret was a huge Priest fan and Rob Halford was a major influence on his vocal style. Decked out in leather head to toe, the band certainly had the early 80’s Priest look down pat, complete with a guitarist wearing a blond wig to look like Glenn Tipton! Opening with deep cut “Tyrant” I knew right away this wasn’t going to be a Priest greatest hits show. The band was impressive, powerful, and loud! Singer Nat Peace was amazing, great vocal range and able to tackle the toughest songs in Priest’s catalog, more on that later. Up next we got “Running Wild”, another vintage ’70s track, and the crowd was singing along! Set was a superb mix of Priest classics. Highlights included “Sinner” (gave me goosebumps it was so good, excellent guitar work!), “Dissident Aggressor” (heavy, heavy riffs! STAB! BAWL! PUNCH! CRAWL!), “Victim of Changes” (WHISKEY WOMAN DON’T YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE DRIVING ME INSANE? Nat was on fire and able to hold the long shrieks at the end!), “The Green Manalishi” (great crowd singing!), and “Electric Eye”. Bret used to regularly sing “Electric Eye” with Resthaven, so Call For The Priest had planned to have him up there for it. Bret’s wife Kim joined the band onstage in Bret’s place and tore it up! It was a great moment! Final songs were “Hell Bent For Leather”, which Resthaven also used to cover, and a blistering “Painkiller” (Killer version of a metal classic – FASTER THAN A LASER BULLET!) which is the perfect Priest closer. I loved the set and would definitely go see these guys again!



Running Wild


Dissident Aggressor

Victim of Changes

The Green Manalishi

Electric Eye

Metal Gods

Hell Bent For Leather




Afterwards everyone was in a happy mood. The benefit had been a success and was a celebration of music that influenced Bret and bands that he himself influenced. I feel very fortunate to have known Bret and will always remember him. RIP easy my brother. Your music and legacy will live on forever. YOUR SOUL FOREVER IMMORTAL / NO ONE CAN DESTROY THIS MALEVOLENT CREEEEAAAAAATTTTIIIIOOONN!