Last Saturday, my four buddies and I made a two hour trip to the Crocodile Rock to see the final stop of one of the most epic tours of this year. Things started out pretty slow due to the seemingly endless slew of medio-core local openers, with the exception of the Jersey band Grimus. I had seen these guys once before at a local show in Delaware, and while they are very breakdown happy, they have a very talented drummer, and they hate the douchebag tough guy dancers just as much as we do. Before one of their songs the vocalist even went so far as to go on a rant against them, saying "This song goes out to all the tough guy assholes out there who come to shows just to ruin it for everyone else. Go fuck yourselves!" Funnily enough, there was a group of about six or so dancers flailing it up for their set the whole time, and after he said this they all stopped and looked around like they were confused as to whether or not they should have taken offense to what had just happened, but once the breakdowns resumed they went back and did their thing.
Later, after what seemed like an eternity of sound issues, Fleshgod Apocalypse took the stage, and they decimated from beginning to end. Theatrics was the name of the game for this band, from beginning their set by blaring Beethoven's Fifth over the PA to the tattered conductor's suits they wore as their stage garb. However, they didn't sacrifice musicianship by any means. I had high expectations for Fleshgod, because their recorded material is nothing short of incredible, and they met those expectations beautifully. Both of the songs I wanted to hear the most, "Embodied Deception" and "Through Our Scars", were played, as well as several other songs from both their Oracles CD and their new EP Mafia. The only drawback to their set was how goddamn LOUD they were. Far be it from me to complain about a death metal show being too loud, but when I have a headache and I haven't even started headbanging yet, something's not right. But even still, they played great, and I got to meet their bassist Paulo Rossi when I bought one of their shirts. Nice guy.
Next up was one of my favorite live bands of all time: Decrepit Birth. This was my fifth time seeing them, and I swear they only get better every time. They're one of the few tech metal bands that not only play their songs almost flawlessly live, but also have very energetic stage presence at the same time. Their set list was actually switched up from other times where I've seen them; there were the usual suspects like "Diminishing Between Worlds", "The Infestation" and "Symbiosis", but they also introduced two songs from their new album Polarity that I had never heard them play before- the title track and "Metatron". As per usual, the crowd reaction was great. There weren't pits for every song, but when they did get going they were intense, and vocalist Bill Robinson doing his signature stage dive didn't help matters either. As an added bonus, when they played one of their songs from their first CD, Derek Boyer (Suffocation's current bassist) came out and did guest vocals, culminating in Robinson accidentally hitting him in the head with his microphone, to everyone's amusement. If you ever get the chance to see these guys in concert, do it. You will not be disappointed.
Unfortunately we missed Through the Eyes of the Dead, and the fault was partially our own. After Decrepit Birth started unloading and TTEOTD was preparing to load in, we noticed that more hardcore kids were starting to make themselves known, and also we were long overdue for a joint break, so we decided to sit them out. However, their new CD is top notch, so if they played any songs from it I'm sure they were awesome. The next time they're playing at a show I'm at I will definitely stick around for them.
After that, we made it back in just in time to see The Faceless wrapping up their sound check. The Faceless is another band I've seen multiple times, and like Decrepit Birth, they only seem to get more awesome every time, perhaps even more so because the first time I saw them they weren't very good at all. Before Planetary Dualitycame out, these guys sounded sloppy and uncoordinated, like they knew how to write and record complicated songs but not necessarily play them to an audience. However, that phase is long gone, and The Faceless are now just as impressive on stage as they are on CD. Their set was surprisingly short but still had all the essentials such as "Planetary Duality Pt. 1 & 2", "Xenochrist", "An Autopsy" and "Pestilence", as well as a new song from their upcoming album. The new song was a bit more melodic than one would expect from these guys, but it still had plenty of killer solos and riffs, so I'm interested to see where they're going to take things.
Last but certainly not least, after a long night of very talented bands, the death metal legends Suffocation took the stage to deafening cheers and applause. The crowd seemed to have thinned out a bit by this point in the show, but that didn't dull the intensity of their set one bit. After twenty plus years, these guys still know how to make everyone else before them look stupid and work a bunch of tired-out kids into a frenzy. Just when I thought everyone was going to stop moshing and assume the "headbang a lot, throw the horns and scream the words" phase, Frank Mullen would command someone to start it up again or to get a circle pit going for the next song, and they obliged every single time. Even I couldn't contain myself at one point and jumped in for a round despite my considerable headache. They played songs from all throughout their discography, opening with "Liege of Inveracity" and going right into songs like "Entrails of You", "Funeral Inception", "Blood Oath", "Infecting the Crypts" and many, many more. Another thing that many old school bands seem to fall victim to is lack of stage presence, but Suffocation don't slack there either. Frank, Terrance, Derek and crew all look like they're still having the time of their lives even though they've been doing the exact same thing for two decades. The highlight was when they brought all the vocalists from the other bands on the tour on stage at once to do guest vocals for "Funeral Inception", inciting yet another frenzy from the crowd.
Finally, after at least a dozen songs, Suffocation called it a night, and we all headed for home feeling deeply satisfied (splitting headache, fatigue and extreme thirst notwithstanding). We made new friends, cheered as a tiny, unassuming kid managed to fend off a dancer hell bent on fighting him, defended and won back the pit from the dancers for The Faceless and Suffocation, almost smoked out Bill Robinson, and basically made it a night to remember. Leave your comments below and share your experiences if you went to this tour or have seen any of these bands play at some point.
- The Baby Killer