Saturday, October 9, 2010


(Disclaimer: This is a massive concert review that I wrote and was paid for but was never published.)

Woohoo in Woostah!

Since 2007 The Summer Slaughter Tour has become destination one for all things death metal in North America and other parts of the world. Other tours have some bigger names, but none has the quality of underground, brutal bands year in and year out. Despite this being my third concert in five days I was not about to let exhaustion make me miss this show. Especially with the hotly anticipated return of DECAPITATED to American soil and a bevy of the genre's other top bands this was an event not to be missed.

The show started off with a bummer for me since I missed most of VITAL REMAINS' short set as they went on much earlier than the purported 5 PM main stage start time. A band of VR's stature and legacy in death metal should really have been higher up on the bill anyway. As I was walking in I heard the strains of “Hammer Down the Nails”, their set closer. I was happy to see the venue densely packed in so early which is somewhat unusual. If you have a chance to go to this tour or their own do not miss these guys!

Another early band I did not want to miss was instrumental merchants ANIMALS AS LEADERS. Definitely the most out of the box band of the show AAL plays a mix of proggy instrumentals that are certainly heavy enough for the tour, but don't necessarily fit into a neat category like their peers. Led by guitar wizard Tosin Abasi, the band is quickly becoming recognized for fine musicianship, their inventive style and the much buzzed about 8-string guitars. Their best song was “On Impulse”. They are definitely worth checking out.

CARNIFEX was up next. I had never really been into them, but wanted to see how they fared live. Coming out of the burgeoning SoCal death scene like so many others these guys have garnered a lot of respect with release earlier this year Hell Chose Me. As soon as they started to play “Entombed Monarch” the place went crazy. Alternating between blast beats, thrash riffs and sludgy deathcore breakdowns CARNIFEX certainly makes people move. In spite of this they don't feature too much inventive guitar playing which was really noticeable following the mastery of ANIMALS AS LEADERS. Also, I don't find a lot of variety in them from song to song which is a let down. On the other hand that kind of simplicity keeps a bands' style memorable and the fans ate it up. Songs like “Sorrowspell” and “The Diseased and the Poisoned” went over well and the pit ninjas were in full effect throughout the set.

We are the road crew!
After CARNIXIFEX came DECREPIT BIRTH also from Southern California. As one of the rising stars of the technical death metal scene they seemed to have the most fans of the early part of the lineup. Starting off their set with the bludgeoning “Of Genocide” they set off a wave of awesome moshing. Next came “The Living Doorway” and the band was just on fire tearing through all of the complexities of the track. Not only is DB a great bunch of musicians, but frontman Bill Robinson is one of the most charismatic performers in all of metal, making them great to see live. Supporting their just released opus Polarity they next jammed out on the new track “The Resonance” which is everything you could want in a modern death metal song. Based on the response of the crowd at the Palladium everyone in the place seemed to know the just released new material as well as the older songs. Guitarist Matt Sotello was one of the many talented guitar stars of the day and that says a lot considering the bill. Other standout tracks of their all too short set were the crushing “Prelude to the Apocalypse”, “Polarity”, and “The Infestation”. Before they finished up Bill said they were going to open for SUFFOCATION and THE FACELESS this fall so that is going right on my calendar. I think the next time these guys play Summer Slaughter they ought to be higher up on the bill based on their new album and great songs.

Set List:
Of Genocide
The Living Doorway
The Resonance
Prelude to the Apocalypse
The Infestation

Decrepit Birth. I'm a fan.
Bill Robinson of DB  knows Quantum Mechanics. Just sayin...

Denver's CEPHALIC CARNAGE was next and I was just happy to see them at the show at all. They have spent most of the tour dealing with van troubles and missed a few dates. I'm glad they were able to make it since I have been into the band since their fine second album Exploiting Dysfunction (2000). Since their beginnings twenty years ago as grindcore outfit, their great playing abilities have found them standing firm along side today's best technical bands. I was kind of bummed that some of the crowd had lessened a bit before their set. By playing a bevy of great old songs as well as several new unreleased jams, they asserted themselves well against the other bands this day. Anyone unfamiliar with the band was indoctrinated immediately by the grindy and brutal opener “Hybrid”. “Wraith” from the excellent Anomalies record was next and was truly inspiring to hear live. Guitarist extraordinaire Steve Goldberg is the kind of guy that makes me crazy as a guitar player. His hands are literally a blur on the fretboard, but he practically looks sedated the entire performance. Vocalist Lenzig LealCARNAGE's lyrics and his stage persona; he is also one of the funniest guys in all of metal. Imagine if John Belushi didn't die, quit the blues for deathmetal and kept smoking his weight in weed. That would be Len. After playing quite a few more old school CC jams they play a bunch of promising new songs that are every bit as good at their oldies. The hilarious “Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder” which Leal said was about masturbatory addiction will be an instant classic. After taking a couple of fitting hits off of his pipe they jammed out to “Kill for Weed” and closed out with the ever sick “Lucid Interval”.

One of this year's best albums.

Set list:
Abraxis of Filth (new)
Endless Cycle of Violence
Untitled new song
Warbots A.M. (new)
Persistent Genital Arousal (new)
Kill For Weed
Lucid Interval

The very popular VEIL OF MAYA followed CEPHALIC CARNAGE and again the crowd was well packed in ahead of their set. VOM play what I feel is a fairly generic brand of screamy deathcore similar to SUICIDE SILENCE, with a few occasional glimpses of ability. Other than guitarist Mark Okubo's fretboard work I found them unimpressive along side some of the greats of the genre from the other bands. Although they are fairly accomplished players and very fine performers (especially vocalist Brandon Butler) I have yet to grasp why they are such a big deal. I'm not against them for their success at all. In these times when it is so hard to 'make it” in music, especially for underground music like metal; I'm glad to see bands sell a ton of merch and have a throng of fans who know all of the words. You could say I am rooting for them to do well, I'm just not crazy about them. Their best song in my opinion was “Namaste”, a nod to the TV show Lost (which I love) and the instrumental “Pillars”.

VOM likes Lost.

Set List:
Crawl Back
Dark Passenger
We Bow In Aura
It's Not Safe To Swim Today

Boston deathcore merchants THE RED CHORD came on next to the approving roar of the basically hometown crowd. Setting things off with the thrashy “Demoralizer” the pit went nuts. “Born Needle” followed the opener and in terms of grooves THE RED CHORD had them over every band this day. The difference between this band and others is they don't simply rely on the “core” part of their style and have plenty of death metal and experimental chops that then infuse their songwriting with. Vocalist Guy Kozowyk has enough gravel in his throat to hang with the best of them and he is a fine frontman, amping up the crowd between songs. The band as a whole are very energetic and involved with the performance as they ripped through their set list favoring crushers from 2009's Fed Through the Teeth Machine. Songs like “Floating Through the Vein” and “Hour of Rats” really showcase the bands ability to write harsh yet intricate songs that get the crowd moving. “Black Santa” is another groove laden jam with brilliant and funny lyrics that might have gone over the head of some of the knuckleheads in attendance. Their final two songs “Dreaming in Dog Years” and “Antman” saw them go out on a very strong note with violent circle pits and lots of head banging.

Set List:
Born Needle
Floating Through the Vein
Hour of Rats
Black Santa
Dreaming in Dog Years

I believe Wu Tang once said "die hard fans demand more..."

The excitement was growing in the venue as the show marched toward the last few bands left. ALL SHALL PERISH was up to the task of bridging the gap to the anticipated headliners. Bringing a mix of styles from thrash, deathmetal, deathcore and occasionally even some blackmetal they have a little something for everyone. They proved as much with their tight, brutal and uptempo set of songs drawn primarily from their 2008 release Awaken the Dreamers. Kicking things off with “No Business to Be Done on a Dead Planet” is the most brutal song about the sad state of the Earth this side of a GOJIRA record and was a splendid opening cut. “Stabbing to Purge Dissimulation” followed and just killed with insane riffs and gruff vocals. Hard hitting new drummer Adam Pierce stood out instantly playing the parts Matt Kuykendall made famous. “When Life Meant More” kept up the pace and had some of the best guitar playing the band did all night. ASP is one of the few bands out there can can satisfy audiences who crave thick mosh parts as much as they do gonzo instrumental excellence. Founder/mastermind Ben Orum's guitar style sees him shred with the best, bring crushing grooves and play blistering solos as well. Orum and touring co-guitarist Francesco Artusaro played some Olympic level shred at times. One thing that really sets ASP apart from many other bands is its intellectual and politically venomous lyrics. For instance “Gagged, Bound, Shelved & Forgotten” is certainly as sick as its name implies. However, instead of being about a serial killer it is a statement about the not-so hidden hands that control our society. They slowed the pace down a bit with the neck breaking grooves of “Never...Again” to the delight of a very large and active mosh pit. “Herding the Brainwashed” is another face peeler they played alternating between thrashy, punishing riffs and a PANTERA-worthy slow part. Vocalist Eddie Hermida's stuck pig-squealing wail punctuates the vocals on this one. Closing with the awesome one two-punch of “Eradication” and “Wage Slaves” they ended in fine form. Special thanks to my buddy Ron Douglas for turning me on to them a while back!

Set List:
There is No Business to Be Done on a Dead Planet
Stabbing to Purge Dissimulation
When Life Meant More
Gagged, Bound, Shelved & Forgotten
Never... Again
Herding the Brainwashed
Wage Slaves

You should own this record.

Although the changeover for the bands was pretty fast all day long the wait for the THE FACELESS to take the stage felt like forever, even if it was only twenty minutes. There was no question who everyone in the venue was there to see since the band is one of the preeminent artists in the scene today. On top of that I was extra psyched because whenever they come to the northeast they seem to be very far down on the bill. So of course I was relishing the chance to hear them do a longer set. I just knew it was going to be an incredible night when the started off with “Shape Shifters”. After the gentle introduction the phenomenal opening riffs just poured out followed by a volcanic torrent of ill beats of “Coldly Calculated Design”. The venue let our a long cheer when started to play and more or less the entire place was moving from then on. Lead vocalist Derek “Demon Carcass” Ryquist prowls the stage like a maniac unleashing a deep guttural bellow that few others in metal can match. The bands' legendary chops were on immediate display as guitarist Michael Keene led the action from his side of the stage. With his blinding amount of skill and style Keene might have been the most talented guy on the stage the entire day. His partner in guitar antics Steve Jones is no slouch either. Jones also has great chops and is a great stage performer as well, contrasting Keene's reserved demeanor. Blowing through “Sons of Belial” the band played this skillful mini-epics with great passion as well. My personal favorite song by the band is “Xenochrist” so I was really happy to hear it live. Lyle Cooper's hyperactive, inventive drumming is usually the bedrock the band builds their songs on top of. In addition to Cooper, I'd took notice of their exceptional new live bass player who did a great job, but I couldn't quite place his face or name. They should keep him on at any rate as he did a great job and I always though Brandon Giffin was the weak link in the chain. Of course none of their collective abilities would add up to much if the songs weren't also there. THE FACELLESS writes some of the best crafted tunes in all of modern metal as evidenced by “Horizons of Chaos: Oracle of the Onslaught” and the two part “Planetary Duality”. It was over way too soon when they played what I feel is still their defining song, “An Autopsy”. After they tour this fall with SUFFOCATION I do hope they get off the road for a while and work on album number four.

Set List:
Shape Shifters
Coldly Calculated Design
Sons of Belial
Horizons of Chaos: Oracle of the Onslaught
Planetary Duality I
Planetary Duality II
An Autopsy

At last the long day was coming to a close and DECAPITATED was getting ready to take the stage. It might be tough for most any band to follow THE FACELESS but DECAPITATED is not just any band. This tour is among their first shows since the terrible van accident took the life of drummer Vitek Kieltyka and put former lead singer Coven out of commission. Leader and guitarist Vogg Kieltyka decided to reform the band and soldier on in his late brother's memory. After recruiting some new members the band rehearsed for about a year before hitting the road rather than do the typical comeback record then tour cycle some bands might do. I think this is a great way to return the group to prominence and remind fans of their prowess before moving forward.

So with a minimalist intro and slow building light effects the band took the stage to cheers. I was kind of disappointed about a third of the crowd left before they went on, but they received a heroes welcome nonetheless when they came out. The band started with “A Poem About an Old Prison Man” and the remaining faithful fans were well rewarded for staying. I couldn't help but smile through the blissful rage the song made me feel, happy to see this band back and on its feet. Any doubts anyone had about the abilities of this lineup were dispelled with a dynamic performance. New frontman Rafal Pitrowski is a great showman, running all over the stage and banging his long blond dreadlocks into oblivion. He was having some voice problems throughout the set, was joined by a friend for one song, but he held up as best as he could. New drummer Krimh Lechner is just astonishing in terms of his hand speed and preciseness of his timing. He did a fine job stepping into the big shoes of Vitek. Right before the second song “Day 69' there was a loud chant of “Vitek” from the crowd. Vogg definitely appreciated it.

Much like their Polish countrymen VADER, DECAPITATED doesn't get overly fancy in terms of depth of style. Rather, they just cave your chest in with great riffs and tons of triggered double-bass blasts. “Post Organic” was another sick cut that is just so heavy you can help but nearly lose your mind. “Visual Delusion” was another song played off of 2007's Organic Halucinosis and nearly all of that entire album was performed this night. Perhaps Vogg sees the band as a continuation of that era; so that is the logical next step forward for the band. “Visual..” was Rafal's best performance of the night also, despite his a fore mentioned issues. For those wondering I'd say he falls closer to the side of Coven's hardcore-ish death vocals than Sauron's shocking howl between his two predecessors. Both “Invisible Control” and the mighty “Winds of Creation” highlight Vogg's guitar style. Clearly influenced by all of the classic death metal guitarists, Vogg is a consummate player's player with a full amp sound many two guitar bands would be jealous of. His lead style is a strict homage to Dimebag Darrell making him a rarity among soloists in the genre. Similar to PANTERA, when Vogg takes a solo, bassist Filip Halucha holds down the riffs very well all by himself.

Vogg takes a solo!


I was having such a good time enjoying the show that when Rafal said it was the last song of the night after only 45 minutes I was very confused. As they closed with the majestic crunch of “Spheres of Madness” I was sure they would come out for an encore. Alas, they didn't much to my consternation. Other than the briefness of the set list DECAPITATED's return to America was a definitely a triumph. Hopefully they will do a headline tour next year when their new record comes out.

Set List:
A Poem About an Old Prison Man
Day 69
Post Organic
Visual Delusion
Invisible Control
Winds of Creation
Flash B(l)ack
Mother War
Spheres of Madness