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Lieutenant Junior Grade
Joined: Jun 28, 2009
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:49 am Post subject: Review: Summer Slaughter Tour 2017
Annual review of SUMMER SLAUGHTER: 2017
As an opening statement- these guys should NOT have been mere 'openers.'
The double-vocalist stage presence was such a reinforcing feature for their live act. Mike and Casey weren't only better than live than on recording skills-wise, but had a really sick and commanding stage presence. For a deathcore band with the more than occasional 'bro call' moments I was feared they might come out too young and energetic but they walked out, stood their respective ground, and traded off lines with a foot stamped on the ground and a hand over the crowd. It was awesome.
The lows and gutterals were everything you could really ask for, crunchy and straight from the depths of hell. The highs as well, even the lightning fast sections, were flawlessly executed. The entire band played their part (no pun) extremely well with the highlight for me being the outro of "Abysmal" with the relentless palm-muted triplets under the sinister tapping, that paired with duo windmills was honestly the definition of deathcore to me. Also of note- their slams were maybe the heaviest part of the entire show. You sensed when they were coming and they did one fuck of a job making sure they were built up and ready to drop like a meat hammer about to fall.
Excellent live act.
*Band Member Interactions: Got to shake paws with Greenwood, 2 things- 1) He looks just like Jax from SOA 2) He's super nice and appreciative of his fanbase. He literally thanked every fan that walked up and didn't stop thanking them for their support until they walked out of hearing distance. This is the way road PR should be done if you're serious about what you do, in my opinion. His first words to me: "Thank you so much for coming out it means so much." My first words: "You didn't play Citadel..."
For all that is unholy where do I start...
I'm a long-time fan of Adam DeMicco (guitarist & songwriter), back when I first got to meet him a year or two ago, as a guitarist and songwriter myself, we instantly hit it off. That man lives, eats, shits, and breathes scales and theory. So much so that the rest of the band more than willingly admits he is the mastermind and life-blood behind their unique and tailored sound. Cutting to the chase: Adam told me last time he is ASHAMED of the songs fans had come to love off their Maleficium EP citing them as "base" and "subpar/mediocre" and that he's capable of more (that was subsequently showcased on their past 2 full-lengths).
This is the live set I know he's been chasing since Lorna formed. They picked challenging songs, executed them both professionally and flawlessly, and with a tone worthy of the gods. You could hear every note and string cut and bite through the mix which is, to me, deeply important to their sound as they have a healthy 50/50 balance of low on the neck shred and tasteful leads that they need to get across. Everything about their live sound has been kicked up a notch. Backing tracks (bass included [unfortunately]) more ambient, improved tightness, look and stage presence, all of it. Lastly was the true highlight: Tom freakin' Barber's stage presence. That guy can work a crowd. Not only this, but he can deftly switch between geeking you out with a punchline to making you want to rip a throat out on the flip of a dime.
An exceptional live act clearly improving with time.
*Band Member Interactions: I didn't get to catch really any of them this go around. Adam and I tweet a good bit so to his credit as soon as I sent him something asking to swing by the merchbooth I saw him come right on out there to fans BUT I was admittedly engrossed in Deathmask Divine soooo...
BETRAYING THE MARTYRS:
Welp, I was guilty of not having high hopes for these guys as I (honestly) don't believe christianity belongs in death metal. ESPECIALLY deathcore. With that said, they did have a great energy up on stage. You can tell a lot of youth came out to see them and they didn't let them down as far as hype goes. Once again, 2 vocalists and both were working the crowd very well; there were lots of speaker jumps, jump kicks, and the like if you're into that. As far as their live sound, it overall came across to me as 'soft.' Though they showed their fair share of aggression and played hard on the breakdowns, their tone sounded soft and muffled and nothing seemed to punch near as hard as it could have. For a band relying on that punch, it really held them back in my book.
One thing I thought was really cool and humble of their main vocalist to do, was take a second before leaving the stage to acknowledge the fact that (with clean vocals and all) they are the only real jumpy/approachable sounding band on the tour this year and they really appreciated the rougher crowd staying and watching their set. A lot of bands would have walked off noses high in the air in the face of a negative opinion, but they handled their place very, very professionally and they have my respect for that.
*Band Member Interactions: I bumped into Victor, one of the vocalists, whilst carousing the merch tables and he instantly struck me as a really, genuinely friendly and kind-hearted dude. He was another, like Angelmaker's boy Mike, that stuck by his merch the ENTIRE show thanking every fan who picked something up or just wanted a selfie. Musicians in metal with that approach automatically get my respect regardless if I'm a fan of your music or not. Good on 'em.
RINGS OF SATURN:
One stage, three people, and some of the most complex and technical material to pull off ever written. Did I mention THREE PEOPLE?!
As many of you have probably heard, ol' Lucas elected to sit this one out (which is fine, to each their own) and let the heavy burden of a Rings' set lay upon the lean, sinewy shoulders of Mr. Miles Baker. If that was me up there with a phat 8 string strapped up facing a horde of testosterone-filled wolves I honeslty probably would have stayed home and played Xbox. Despite the understaffing him, Ian (straight rocking a throwback sleeveless Dragonball Z shirt), and Aaron came and fucking conquered that shit.
Folks are so critical and judgmental of these guys for whatever reason, especially live. Again as a musician myself I too would say I might look and listen a little deeper than most, but honestly Rings of Saturn slayed tonight. I didn't hear or see anything out of place even once. Every riff was thrown down brutally, every extraterrestrial lead and solo was executed with efficience, every line was gutted out with plenty of brees and gurgles intermixed for pleasure, and every rediculous bass hit and snare pop were right on the money. My favorite aspect of their live show is, to combat the crazy rediculous neck-breaking pace of their riffs and leads, the band was sure to give every breakdown and slower section room to breathe. For a choice few seconds before each banger was about to hit the lights would dim and the mic would be held high to the deafening yells and wails of the crowd in eager anticipation. Good. Shit.
My only small gripe would be that their mix, tonight in Tennessee at least, was a bit off in that everything seemed to meld together to where you couldn't quite pick apart each instrument which for a tech fan can be offsetting. Of course, this has nothing to do with their playing capacity and was a minor thing.
*Band Member Interactions: Never met these guys before and got to shake mitts with both Ian and Miles. Ian was really cool, got a really humbled vibe off of him. Really thankful for the support, for showing up, etc. Pretty sure Miles had a few choice ladies trailing him most of the night (good for him haha) but he too was super humbled and appreciative of the support. He mentioned that he does try to stay diversified in terms of influences and playstyles which is great to see show through in their newer material.
*Bonus: Tom Barber did guest vocals with Ian on one song. It was pretty goddamn surreal, not gonna lie.
2 words- Talent & SHRED.
This band is a long-time favorite going back to middle school for me, been a fan for over a decade and seeing how much they inspired my own musical endeavors I was beyond thrilled I'd finally gotten a chance to catch them face to face. Badassly (it's a word...) I got to talk theory, shapes, and playing with Paul Ryan before their set. If you've never been exposed to Origin's playstyle think of Rings' grandfathers before the trade of extraterrestrial shredding was passed down but MINUS any breakdowns. It's a thing of beauty. At any rate, he gave me some neat tips and invited my wife and I to stand in front of him stage left to see all the parts he was talking about...which we sure as heck did.
I'd heard these guys were tighter than -insert offensive sexual joke- live, but that really was an understatement. As soon as the first song kicked in my jaw instantly dropped and for about 30 minutes I was teleported to an undisclosed space station witnessing alien galaxies succumb to violent foreign invasion. The blasting was just unreal, I'm no drummer in any regard but I could tell by his blasting hand distance constantly varying hovering distance off the snare that he had honed an incredible technique over the years. Mike Flores on bass is just astounding (if you're a bassist and have not seen this man shred look him up immediately!). He bent slightly forward at the waist allowing his instrument room to hang in front of him and absolutely demolished that thing with 3-finger right hand technique, high speed fingered tremolo, sweeping, tapping, scaling, and sweep-tapping on a damn 5 string. Paul on his throwback axe was a god. You know how in DBZ when two highly trained characters would go hand to hand it was all a blur to the viewer and you could only catch key strikes every few seconds? Best explanation. Almost too much to digest for this peasant wannabe guitar player. Their fairly new vocalist was also a hit, fantastic stage presence with a classic sense of humor. To me he filled in the void Travis Ryan (Cattle Decap) left by not being on the tour this year.
The two highlights in their set for me was...
1) The goddamn slam in the middle of "The Aftermath"
2) A POLITICALLY SPLIT WALL OF DEATH. Coolest shit I've seen in years and clever too. His ass split liberals on the left, conservatives aka Fox News (lol) on the right, and invited the so called free thinkers to meander in the middle. Good shit.
*Band Member Interactions: As I said I spent a good amount of time with these dudes before and after their set, namely their guitarist and bassist. For being as legendary in the death metal scene as they are they are both super humble dudes. Was neat to hear their stories- how Paul started out on the violin at 7 years old and slowly snuck in guitar practice and Flores is a 3rd generation family bassist originating (no pun) in Mexico.
SLAUGHTER TO PREVAIL:
Паспорта - сука. Они не появлялись.
(Passports are a bitch...)
Good ol' Blackchapel at it again with a vengeance!
Now mind you I just saw these guys about 3 months ago so I wasn't my normal over-excited self to see them throw down once more. And yet...throw the fuck down they did. Their new sound on Revelation really suits them, especially in a live setting. Extremely eerie atmospheric vibe, gnarly as hell 8 string chopping through everything, bass bombs out of a Transformers movie theater experience, and of course Adam Warren demolishing all that is holy by way of his vocal chords.
They played a strong mix of their old material for OG fans, as well as a healthy number of their newer very suiting songs. Adam is one of the best frontman in the metal game, particularly deathcore. If you've seen him live you know. His crowd interaction is always well received and works like a charm which incited some truly brutal and violent pit action.
If you came for deathcore, Oceano delivered.
*Band Member Interactions: Seen these guys a number of times and just happened to finally bump into Adam walking out of the venue. Super chill guy, just happy have a drink in his hand and enjoy a warm night in Tennessee playing metal with cool people. Thanked him for all his albums over the years and he thanked me for the support in turn.
"Not bad huh...I mean...for showing up and all." Had me ROLLING
The Faceless is one of my favorite bands to ever write music. Their last show I went to made an impression on me that I'd never forget. One of awe, wonder, majesty, melody, and surely brutality. This in mind...they still had the cards stacked against them this evening. A new vocalist (actually fucking Ken Sorceron from Abigail Williams [lowkey one of the best blackened bands ever]) specializing in a different style, a new touring rythym guitarist needing to synch up with Keene perfectly to pull this off, the YouTube drummer they have only played with TWICE (both times on this tour itself), and the rumors that Keene hasn't been doing to hot lately trying to keep his band alive and kicking.
I knew this was either going to be amazing or terrible, no in between.
The stage went black and suddenly you hear the first clean, open string of "Sons of Belial" interestingly enough. As soon as that first synchronized power chord seared our very flesh leaving a nasty vibrating bass wave in the air I knew tonight was about to fall under the former of the above 2 scenarios. I really loved this line-up, the band perhaps more importantly seemed to too. There was a lot of pressure on their new fill-in drummer to deliver and let me tell you his fills were straight from the 6th circle of hell with plenty of taste. He might have hit off time maybe twice out of the entire 30-40 minute set which all things considered is pretty incredible.
They went on to play a few older songs, then we got a taste of their new track "The Spiraling Void" live (which I'd really been anticipating). The song showcases such diversity and it was beyond cool to see every musical emotion from straight brutality, to alien tech-shred, to tear-jerking beauty in the same song which continued into the final half of their set. As the outro started with the super melodic tasteful chords and smoky solo, Sorceron took me by absolute surprised...and walked off stage. For those familiar with classic prog metal bands such as Rush and Dream Theater, this is a total nod to 'giving the stage' to the one who deserves it in that moment completely letting go of your ego. When I realized what was happening and saw Keene take center stage amidst the smoke and start his PITCH PERFECT cleans over the solo I was in Faceless heaven. I live for moments of bands like these. Right after they made a couple tongue-in-cheek references and jokes very classily and professionally acknowleding the hate they've been receiving lately (handled very well), and proceeded to ask if we like REALLY long songs. I knew Autotheism was coming.
All 3 movements of Autotheist rained down under minimal lighting and it was so, so impressive and moving. Every part of all 3 parts was performed so well and with such emotion packed into the leads and solos all reaching climax when Deconsecrate's organ came in once more leaving the stage to Keene alone and that sultry ass jazzy blues lead.
Still holding strong.
"Are you all ready for some brutal fuckin' death metal?!"
As SOON as the first riff hit in D standard the entire venue floor erupted into several pits consisting of any and all styles of moshing. I'm talking the front row up against the bar somehow having it's own pit separate from the push pit which was surrounded by a damn circle pit.
What stood out to me most was...again with this word, the theme of the night...the SYNCHRONICITY between Sean and John, not to mention drummer Trey. Everything was so tight, everything cut through so prominently, the stage presence was so commanding and assertive, every riff executed flawlessly, and not a single note out of time. Another factor that really impressed me was how awesomely they could work a crowd in addition to holding down both demanding instrumental and punishing vocal duties all at once, that's a true sign of greatness that transcends genre. They went on to play material from just about every album in the time they had alotted which was really refreshing and catered to Fetus fans of every 'generation.' Technically, Sean's keeping up with the guitar's every minor note on bass without missing a beat was one thing, but John Gallagher's maniacal shredding technique was nothing short of masterful. The small, easy to miss hyper-speed taps and trills segwaying right into punishing palm mutes chained together by effortless sweeps is just astounding man.
My favorite thing about this band live however was how it unified an entire room. Knoxville, as home of Whitechapel and thus in many ways deathcore itself, you're coming onstage here as a hardsell to deathcore fans without a token breakdown or two let alone minus backing tracks of any nature. The raw, violent setting brought on by the brutality that is Dying Fetus penetrated this tonight and had every person in every corner of the room throwing down in his or her own respective way all in the name of unadulterated pure fuckin' DEATH METAL.
*Band Member Interactions: Though I didn't have the opportunity to meet any of these chaps, I did turn around during Lorna's set and catch Sean standing in the back amongst the crowd watching in curiosity their every move on stage with seeming approval. A death metal legend in the game for literally decades taking the time still in this day in 2017 to watch a new non-death metal group doing their thing? Major respect.
THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER:
To some outside the realm of metal, things to cross off the top of one's bucketlist might entail sky-diving, a trip to Disney World, meeting an A list celebrity. For me...for US...it's witnessing TBDM play fucking Nocturnal live in it's entirety.
All right lads first thing's first: Black Dahlia was the LOUDEST band I've ever heard. And I've seen a LOT of bands. I'd never experienced physical ear pain until tonight but that did it! But here's the thing, that's one of the many things that makes Nocturnal great. Even with the volume low you can hear everything cut through and every chug punch you in the asshole. This quality of sound engineering live in your face was sheer blissful overkill in the best way possible. Now onto the show...
For years I'd sat in my car throwing this album on thinking if I ever got the opportunity to hear it live which, 10 years down the road, probably will never happen again that I'd picture a black stage maybe dim blue lights...and crickets. That eloquently captured sound of the night in the first introductory seconds of "Everything Went Black." And that's exactly how it began- quickly and sickly followed by those legendary chords ushering in what I consider to possibly be the greatest record of all time followed by Mr. Strnad on stage himself immediately setting to pumping the crowd up. Once the main riff hit, it was nothing but 34 minutes and 39 seconds of fantastical blue strobe, one of the most beloved and energetic frontmen in the scene, air-tight riffing, and straight ghoulish blood sucking atmosphere.
I was sceptical up-front, but I am a firm believer of this current line-up especially performing live. I'm pretty vocal in regards to not being a fan of Knight's lead and solo work on Dahlia's newest albums, I felt he brought in too much theory and an unpleasant classic southern twang into their sound (great musician, just not a great fit stylistically). Knowing he was out, I knew there'd be a new lead guitarist standing up there filling in and the day I hear him I'd be stalking every note picked. Sure enough, Brandon Ellis (Arsis, Cannabis Corpse) executed every solo perfectly...in fact most leads were done while windmilling with minimal effort exerted. The bass as well is honorably still finger-picked these days which is always a respectable touch in any form of metal; three finger right hand technique out in full force. And Trevor as you all know is just the shit man. The guy's a human hype man, walking to and squeezing in every single crevice of that stage just to make sure he can get in the face of everyone at all angles on that floor. I've followed him for a long time and understand he bleeds metal in every sense of the word from his columns online, to his supporting and featuring on new up and coming band's albums, to intentionally and eclectically being an unbiased fan of all bands that fall under the moniker of metal regardless of sub-sub-subgenre...however experiencing him in person, it's hard to describe but you just sense this warm appreciation and PASSION for metal that really unites a fanbase and tonight a venue.
Magical playthrough of one of the best albums ever written. To close out the night, they also revealed the album art in the form of a massive ass banner and debut single for their new and upcoming album Nightbringers which, if I'm not mistaken, seems to throwback to their Nocturnal-era quite a bit excitingly enough.
*Band Member Interactions: Ugh. So this is the only real negative part about the evening for me. In case you haven't noticed, I'm a big fan of proactively finding and meeting the musicians who are up on the stage and writing albums that make such an impact in my life. If you don't have 2 seconds to shake a hand and acknowledge those who support you, spend their hard earned money on your art, and emotionally invest in your music it really makes me view a band differently. Went for a quick handshake and compliment when I saw Eschbach walk by through the crowd and he literally looked right at me and kept walking right back to their reserved area. Admired this guy and his playing for over 10 years, bought almost every album, and that's how it's going to be? I get that it's hot, muggy, and smelly everywhere on long tours but I expected more.
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