by: Graham "Gruhamed" Hartmann
When I first saw the lineup for the 2010 DECIBEL DEFIANCE TOUR, I did the following in order:
1. Shit my pants
2. Bought tickets
3. Changed said pants
The prospect of having FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, DECREPIT BIRTH and SUFFOCATION on the same bill gave me a terrified jolt up my spine. This would by far be the heaviest effing show I would ever see. And with THE FACELESS and THROUGH THE EYES OF THE DEAD sharing the spotlight, I knew the show would attract a very interesting crowd. I could already see it; people leaving on stretchers, pools of blood on the mosh pit floor, maybe even a few broken bones for good measure. In any case, I knew the show would not disappoint… and I was about half right.
The Deathfest at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY was scheduled to begin at 7pm, but with various setbacks and way too many opening acts (bringing the grand total to 9 bands), tension was starting to build amongst the crowd. My buddy Joe, already wasted from the drive over, was the first to make a scene. During the set of a particularly awful opening act, he decided to lend his constructive criticism to the band by flipping them off and screaming,"GET THE FUCK OFF THE STAGE! YOU FUCKING SUCK!!!" After some careful consideration I'm sure, the band decided to not take his advice and finish the set, with their vocalist stating, "Last time I checked being metal is about doing whatever the fuck you want." Joe's words weren't completely wasted however, with SUFFOCATION guitarist Guy Marchais and bassist Derek Boyer shaking their heads in awkward laughter at the band's merch table.
Finally at around 9pm, Italy's FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE took the stage inciting a surprisingly large and excited response from the crowd. Dressed as zombified Beethovens covered in blood and ash, they delivered their signature concoction of brutal death metal and Romantic-era piano interludes with sharp precision. The only disappointing aspect of their set was the sound. Insisting to almost completely eliminate high-end frequencies, FLESHGOD asked for the tweeters in the venue's speaker system to be turned off. Whether they meant it solely for their feedback monitors or the venue's entire sound system I'm not entirely sure, but the band still delivered a punishing set with a charismatic energy rarely found in death metal acts. FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE tore The Chance apart, cementing their very first trip to America as a memorable one.
Next up were DECREPIT BIRTH. As the band began to take the stage, I could already smell the aroma of weed filling the air. Any doubt about whether or not DB was one of the main attractions of this tour, had left along with a cloud of smoke. The band put on one of the best shows of the night, with vocalist Bill Robinson delivering not only a great guttural performance, but hilarious drug-induced rants such as "I was the first human, I was a shaman who took it too far. I went on a trip… and never came back! This isn't even happening right now, you're all just a part of my psychedelic hallucination!"
After two remarkable death metal performances, it was time for a different style to present itself to the crowd. Core. THROUGH THE ASS OF THE DEAD came on first, proving that deathcore is the worst thing that's happened to metal since LIMP BIZKIT. The crowd seemed to be split in half; the younger crowd bobbing their heads, pickin' up change and throwing punches in all directions (leaving one kid with a broken nose and others spilling puddles of blood into the bathroom sinks), while the older crowd either stood stone-faced with their arms crossed, or braved the fourty-something degree weather outside. Needless to say, I wish I had brought a hoodie. THE FACELESS put on a slightly better show and displayed some of the best musicianship of the night, but their statue-esque stage presence sucked the energy from the room, and after 7 bands having already played, energy was something that the crowd desperately needed.
So with the night at its low point and the Thursday night show continuing past midnight, death metal gods SUFFOCATION immediately beat the fatigue out of the crowd, beginning their set with Liege of Inveracity. What followed was one of the best live performances I've seen in a long long time. The hilarious Frank Mullen kept the crowd entertained with his signature violent rants in between his skull crushing vocal performances. Guitarist's Terrance Hobbes and Guy Marchais were in top form, flawlessly dishing out mind-bending solos in between huge riffs and interludes which can only be described as the sound of impending doom. Derek Boyer's bass tone was as disgusting as ever and drummer Mike Smith made his legendary drumming look like child's play. Even after 1am, SUFFOCATION kept the crowd going and dished out a slew of fan favorites such as Thrones of Blood, Infecting the Crypts and my personal favorite Funeral Inception. And even though some of their songs were written 20 years ago, they remain timeless not only in influence, but in the fact that SUFFOCATION is still the heaviest fucking band on the planet.
Seeing SUFFOCATION live is something every extreme metal fan has to do at least once, because their studio albums, no matter how incredible they may be, don't come close to capturing the true atmosphere of their sound. Believe me, go see them live and you'll be indoctrinated with a whole new understanding of one of the most innovative and influential death metal bands in history, and if you don't, Frank Mullen will find you and throw you into a wood chipper.