They mosh together in small but fervent packs around the Sacramento area. Battle jackets – those archetypal denim vests adorned with patches of favorite bands – are sported proudly. The music itself thrives on a need for speed, a means of pummeling any stresses through chunky guitar riffs and rapid-fire drum beats.
This is thrash-metal, an amped-up subset of heavy metal that’s roared for more than three decades. Its glory days were mostly in the mid-1980s, a scene that launched such metal icons as Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth. But there’s a new generation determined to keep thrash thriving as metal continues to mutate in ever new forms.
Sacramento’s Blessed Curse is one of those bands, a group that takes many of its cues from the early 1980s and such albums as Metallica’s “Kill ‘Em All” and Slayer’s “Show No Mercy.” On Saturday at Cafe Colonial, Blessed Curse shares a bill with such like-minded metal bands as Cultural Warfare, Apothesary and New Plague.
“It’s basically old-school thrash,” said Blessed Curse bassist Dan Keenan about the band’s sound. “I’m also into Iron Maiden, our singer is into heavier stuff, and our drummer loves Judas Priest. It all comes together and creates this new thing.”
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Northern California, and especially the San Francisco Bay Area, has a long legacy with that heavy sound. Through such bands as Exodus (which spawned Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett), Testament, Death Angel and Metallica itself, the Bay Area was an epicenter of the movement in the 1980s.
Sacramento’s also privy to some thrash metal connections. Jack Gibson, the longtime bassist for Exodus, graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Greenhaven. Gary Holt, who plays guitar both in Exodus and Slayer, is a newer Sacramento area resident.
But it’s the younger bands like Blessed Curse who hope to keep a newer generation stoked on thrash metal.
Currently, the slow, sludgy sonics of doom-metal are especially popular around Sacramento. The local group Chrch has even received national attention for its heavier-than-thou and at times ethereal sound.
The underground still hosts its share of thrash-metal shows. In February, Cafe Colonial played host to “Thrashaccre 2017,” which included Blessed Curse, the Bay Area band X-Method and three thrash groups from Southern California: Hazard, Obsidian and Hydra.
More than a gig, the show was a means of reinforcing the network of California’s thrash scene. The show included members from the various groups joining forces on a cover of the Iron Maiden classic “Hallowed Be Thy Name.”
“It was such a cool show,” said Keenan. “I think Cafe Colonial has been one of the best venues for supporting local music. It hasn’t always been easy to find a gig.”
Keenan’s hoping to change that beyond his duties as Blessed Curse’s bassist. He’s also branched out into booking shows and music production with a crew called Typical Thrash Kids, which is planning for an epic show on the night of Saturday, Aug. 5. It will include 10 bands that’ll rock both Cafe Colonial and the Colony next door.
The following weekend, Saturday, Aug. 12, Typical Thrash Kids will host “Flounderfest 2K17” at Cafe Colonial, which includes Blessed Curse, the Sacramento bands RavenThrone and Salythia, and more.
That’s to say, the thrash-metal torch still burns. The challenge is to keep it lit in Sacramento for generations to come.
“We have good shows and new promoters,” said Keenan. “But people have to go out and support the shows. (The scene) won’t survive without people coming out.”
What: Concert with Cultural Warfare, Apothesary, New Plague
When: 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 29
Where: Cafe Colonial, 3520 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento
Cost: $8; the show is all ages
Information: 916-718-7055, www.facebook.com