All The More Berserker

Berserker Fest V rolled into Pontiac’s Crofoot on Friday like a tsunami on steroids. With a carefully curated lineup than blurred the borders between punk and metal, there was an atmosphere of earsplitting cross pollination that likely introduced every member of the crowd to a great band they were previously unaware of. Kudos to Shawn and Veronica Knight for once again assembling such an eclectic group of artists – including MC, actor / comedian / rabid metal fan Brian Posehn.

Setting the tone early on the main stage was Knight’s grind project, Shock Narcotic, which featured bassist Don Slater of Battlecross, the blue collar thrash titans who would deliver a blistering set of their own later in the evening.

Next up on the main stage was Australian grindcore powerhouse King Parrot. A band revered for their furiously fun live shows, the men from Melbourne delivered in spades. Once you get to see these maniacs onstage, It’s pretty much impossible not to fall in love with them. The levity of their between-song banter makes these dudes all the more endearing. The whole vibe is kind of like watching a good friend’s band in someone’s beer-soaked basement, but on a much grander scale.

The Crofoot’s two smaller stage, The Pike Room and Vernors Room hosted steady stream of local and regional acts including Slob, Bloodiest, A Deer A Horse, The Armed, Oozing Wound, Homewrecker, Tombs, and organizer Shawn Knight’s own Detroit noise rock quartet, Child Bite.

Metal / Punk Royalty

Death metal pioneers Macabre brought their gruesome tales of Jeffrey Dahmer and other notorious serial killers to life with a surgical precision that conjured images of dismemberment and rotting corpses. Thirty years in and this Chicago band is still butchering with the best of them.

Detroit punk royalty Negative Approach stormed the stage next, unloading a supersonic history lesson in hardcore. Founder and front man John Brannon paced the stage like an erudite lion, bringing all the fire and intensity the audience was craving. Bookended by two brutal metal acts, Brannon and crew acted like the owned the place, and during their short set, they did.

Actor / Comedian Brian Posehn who MC’d the entire evening from the main stage, gave his most rousing introduction to the evening’s headliners, Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals. The band appeared onstage first, with the man himself appearing moments later to a thunderous response from the crowd. Their sound bordered on barbaric. Anselmo seemed completely at home with his new comrades. The band’s amalgamation of Florida death metal, black metal, and a heaping helping of soul-wrenching angst were both cohesive and crushing. If one didn’t know Phil’s extraordinary history in the world of metal, it would be easy to assume he’d been with this group of guys for years. Hopefully after this tour they will head back into the studio to record a follow-up to this year’s excellent offering, Choosing Mental Illness.


Todd Gilleland
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