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‘Welcome to Hell’ tour at Ace of Spades

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Music venue Ace of Spades hosted another sold-out show on Friday, the "Welcome to Hell Tour" featuring performances by metal/hardcore bands Whitechapel, Chelsea Grin, I Declare War, The Acacia Strain and Veil of Maya.

I Declare War and Chelsea Grin started things off with lots of growling, screaming and calls for the crowd to get violent.

The circle pits were large and constant the entire night, with sweaty, aggressive men running around in the open space formed in the middle of the crowd, using their flailing body parts to punch and kick whatever happened to be in front of them as hard as they could.

It’s the norm at these types of shows, but if you’re there to enjoy the music it’s annoying having to worry about being punched in the back of the head or side-kicked in the back.

Veil of Maya was third on the bill and continued the heavy guitar assault. There were more melodic flourishes in the guitar playing than in the first two bands, which was nice (although the guitarists from the first two bands were very talented).  In this genre of music a sound that sets you apart is a breath of fresh air.

The band really got things going when vocalist Brandon Butler announced, "Our bass player says the first person to get on stage gets a free T-shirt!"

'Welcome to Hell' tour at Ace of Spades
Dan Hauser of Veil of Maya
Almost immediately people started lunging over the crowd barricade in an attempt to get on stage, putting the security personnel to work defending the stage.

Eventually a young man made it up and put one of the guitars momentarily out of commission by stepping on and disconnecting a guitar pedal.

"Don’t step on the pedals and it’s all good!" Butler said.

It happened again a few minutes later, stopping the show while techs came on stage to get things back to working order. A quick test of "Für Elise" by guitarist Marc Okubo, and Veil was back in business.

Taking the stage next was the heaviest band of the night, Massachusetts-based The Acacia Strain. The lights came up for the first song just as vocalist Vincent Bennett spit bursts of water into the air — a great bit of theatrics.

The Acacia Strain band members had an impressive presence, stalking the stage liked caged animals and glaring at the audience.

'Welcome to Hell' tour at Ace of Spades
I Declare War
The captivating performance progressed and the circle pits continued to be filled with a mindless fervor as those in the audience found a way to release their aggression.

Headliners Whitechapel closed out the show, and while their show was impressive and the crowd loved it, The Acacia Strain set the bar very high with their previous performance.

"Bang your head and do something illegal!" Acacia Strain vocalist Bennett commanded earlier. "I want you to remember this show for the rest…of…your…fucking life!" 

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