Devildriver, Jinjer and more at Diamond Ballroom (2018)

Diamond Ballroom (Oklahoma City, OK, USA)

Devildriver, Jinjer, Raven Black, Curse The Fall, Blackthorne Elite, Wood N Bone
Sunday evening saw DEVILDRIVER bring their 2018 Outlaws 'Til The End tour to Oklahoma City's […]
By Dave Nowels
October 28, 2018

Sunday evening saw DEVILDRIVER bring their 2018 Outlaws 'Til The End tour to Oklahoma City's Diamond Ballroom. It was a raucous night of mostly epic highs. I wasn't really familiar with any of the bands on the bill. So, I approached the whole endeavor with an open mind and a hope that somewhere, somehow one of these bands would blow me away. Did this work out in my favor?
Read on fellow metalhead.

DEVILDRIVER brought the Metal for sure. You basically know what you're going to get when this band of heathens takes the stage. A band as cohesive and tight as any on the road, led by the confident swagger of frontman Dez Fafara. They rock, they rock hard, and they expect their audience to rock hard along with them. The front lines at a DEVILDRIVER show is not for the weak, or faint of heart.

From the dual guitar attack of Mike Spreitzer and Neil Tiemann, to the thundering occupation of the low end by Diego Ibarra and Austin D'Amond, this band means business. Opening with "Ruthless" the band launched their hordes of fans into a headbanging fury. "Hold Back The Day" and "Fighting Words" followed, with the band relying on fan favorite earlier material to set the tone initially. After, seemingly initiating a setlist deviation, Fafara called for "Head on to the Heartache (Let Them Rot)", describing it as a song they hadn't played recently. Interestingly enough, the song has been in rotation the majority of the tour, and was in fact on the setlist. Regardless, it rocked. What's a little exaggerated showmanship among friends after all?

Somewhat surprising was the lack of material from their newest album, "Outlaws 'Til The End Vol I". The ghosts of the Diamond Ballroom, which served as country dancehall in a past life seemed to beg for the Metalized country covers on their 2018 release. Indeed, just prior to taking the stage, Ibarra could be seen perusing the rows of autographed photos that adorn the backstage area of the stage. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. The only track from the album they played was a fierce version of WILLIE NELSON's "Whiskey River". No harm, no foul I suppose. In most live situations fans want to hear the songs they know, and that's exactly what they got.

"Grin Fucked", the AWOLNATION cover of "SAIL" and "I Could Care Less" all served to leave the appreciative crowd satisfied. DEVILDRIVER put on one hell of an entertaining show.

The 6 band bill included 3 bands from the general local area of Oklahoma City. The first band to take the stage was WOOD N BONE, a four piece who warmed up a sparse early crowd with their fine version of pure American Metal. They played a really good short set, and seemed to impress the early crowd.

Next up was BLACKTHORNE ELITE, and I was rewarded a set that, while it didn't absolutely blow me away, it particularly close. The band delivered a great, inspired set, with an intensity that speaks as loudly as their volume. Their sound had a lot of an early California Thrash style to my ears, which I loved. Of the local bands on the bill, this was my definite favorite. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for them in my area again and hope to see them put out a recording soon.

CURSE THE FALL was the final cog of the local portion of the billing. Unfortunately for me at least, they were the weakest portion of the Metal machine on this night. The crowd grew in size with each band as the night proceeded, and by the time CURSE THE FALL took the stage, the most dedicated fans had committed to their locations and were determined to ride it out. Unfortunately, it seemed like CURSE THE FALL let all but their most dedicated fans down. Having more time to play than the previous bands, I expected more I guess from a band that has shared the stage with some pretty elite bands.  Instead, it seemed like the band was unrehearsed and a bit sloppy in their presentation. Vocalist Dewayne Clifton was the weak link for me. He seemed to struggle with his timing and hitting notes throughout the band's set. Maybe it was just a bad night. Maybe there was an illness, who knows. But it was obvious in observing the crowd, that much of the established energy from the previous bands was sucked out of the building during this set. Really a shame.

So earlier in this review I expressed my hope that a band would come along on this night and blow me away. That band was RAVEN BLACK. Let me be clear, RAVEN BLACK is not a band I thought I would have enjoyed. I would have even said that as far as Metal goes, they just weren't my thing. I was wrong. I was really, really wrong. Their set was the absolute highlight of the entire night for me. Their performance brings a dark haunted carnival feel, and then musically it proceeds to rip you apart like the stuffing from a doll.

Led by vocalist Raven, the band adorns themselves with gruesome make-up and masks while utilizing various props to put forth a memorable theatric presentation. To first glance, this may seem gimmicky to some, and I initially thought so myself when they took the stage. But over the next 45 minutes their performance both musically and artistically, won me, and many in the crowd completely over. So much so in my case, that I immediately had to learn more about them once I got home, despite having to be at work early.

In addition to the memorable performance, the band also seems to really appreciate their fans. As the final touches were being applied prior to their set, Raven made sure every kid in the audience was relocated to the photo pit for an unobstructed front row seat. I mean, how can you not like that?

RAVEN BLACK is a band that I really hope makes it back through the OKC area soon. They were that damn good.

The final band to warm up the crowd before DEVILDRIVER's set was Ukraine's JINJER. What a powerhouse they proved to be. A Progressive Metalcore/Groove Metal band, they're fronted by the force that is Tatiana Schmailyuk.

A raven haired beauty with incredible vocal range, a commanding stage presence and a bit of an "I can kick your ass" attitude. Musically the band is top notch talent, perhaps the most technical of the bands that played.

Add Tatiana's prowess of fronting the stage and it was quite a show. After the previous set from RAVEN BLACK, JINJER confirmed to me that Metal definitely needs more confident, strong women leading the charge to the future.

So, all in all it was a rewarding night. I went to the show with zero expectations and came away with a couple of new (to me) bands that I'm now seemingly obsessed with. DEVILDRIVER's Outlaws 'Til The End Tour runs through November. If you're able, I would highly recommend checking it out.

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