It was a chilly October night in Poughkeepsie, New York, but that didn't stop roughly 250 extreme metal fans from coming out to The Chance for a night of death metal mayhem for The Decibel Defiance Tour. Headlining the evening was New York's own Suffocation, and they brought along with them Fleshgod Apocalypse from Italy, plus US bands Decrepit Birth, Through the Eyes of the Dead, and The Faceless. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo was on hand for the festivities, which also just happened to be a celebration of 25 years in business for local heavy metal shop Rock Fantasy. Owner Steve Keeler, a longtime embassador of metal here in the Hudson Valley, brought along plenty of goodies from his store in Middletown, and helped usher in the return of death metal at The Chance.
After a trio of local extreme metal acts played brief sets to entertain the crowd in the early hours, Italy's Fleshgod Apocalypse made their way to the stage wearing dark zombie face paint and Orchestra Conductor Suits to a backdrop of classical music. The band then erupted into songs from their recently released Mafia and Oracles albums, much to the delight of the loyal death metal fans in attendance, who were well aware of all their songs and moshed & headbanged along to each pummeling number. If you like brutal, technical death metal, but with a European flair, definitely give this band and their CDs a chance. I think we'll be hearing much more about them in the not too distant future.
Next up was technical death metal wizards Decrepit Birth, Nuclear Blast's brand new signing. Their hot new release Polarity pushes the boundaries of what technical & progressive death metal should be, yet remains highly brutal and melodic at the same time. Lead growler Bill Robinson is quite the character onstage, as his hippy/dreadlocked look makes for a unique pairing with the bands crushing & complex style. Matt Sotelo's intricate riffs and jaw dropping solos are just two of the many reasons Decrepit Birth's set was so explosive, as they nailed tracks list "Metatron" and "Simbiosis" with brutal precision. If you like the more technical fair of bands such as Nile, Death, Spawn of Possession, Braindrill, Beneath the Massacre, Psycroptic, and Origin, then do yourself a favor and investigate Decrepit Birth.
The show took on more of a hardcore/deathcore slant with the arrival of Through the Eyes of the Dead, a band who bring plenty of energy but kind of clash with the styles of Suffocation, Decrepit Birth, and Fleshgod Apocalypse. Playing tunes from their albums Skepsis and Malice, the band offered up plenty of mosh friendly moments for those in the pit, but for the death metal purists their set was a little lacking. Give these guys credit-they can sure work up a crowd, and it seems they are having a blast on stage. If you like your extreme music with more of a hardcore edge, this band will certainly be for you.
California's The Faceless made quite a splash a few short years ago with their CD Planetary Duality, an album that mixed metalcore with complex death metal, progressive rock, and jazz fusion. It's pretty obvious these guys idolize not only Cynic, but also jazz guitar legend Allan Holdsworth, as their music takes you on all sorts of twists and turns and features plenty of eye catching intricate interplay. For the more adventurous progressive metal folks, their set was highly entertaining, but those wanting mind-numbing brutal death metal, The Faceless went perhaps a tad too experimental. Despite the fact that the entire show was running about an hour long at this point, The Faceless delivered a crushing and precise set (though I think they were cut short by a song or two due to time constraints) that shows they are a band capable of great things.
New York's Suffocation have some of the most loyal fans in all of extreme metal. These guys tour relentlessly, yet their fans go out and see them time and time again. There's a reason for that-Suffocation delivers, plain and simple. Their set last night was no exception, and they had the best sound of all the bands that played on this evening (it took the sound guys a while to get it right it seemed). Playing plenty of classics from throughout their long career, the fans were treated to crushing versions of "Entrails of You", "Cataclysmic Purification", "Pierced From Within", "Thrones of Blood", and of course "Infecting the Crypts". Vocalist Frank Mullen is still one of the most entertaining guy in all of death metal. He might not have the best growl/bellow in the business, but his facial expressions, manic hand shakes, and body movements are highly entertaining in a live setting.
The dual guitar attack of Terrance Hobbs & Guy Marchais delivered big time once again, as the two spit out plenty of raging, technical riffs and blazing solos (all extreme acts need to study these guys and learn what it takes to deliver CRUSHING riffs), that shook the rafters of The Chance. All in all, it was another stellar performance from a band that just goes out there and kicks ass night after night, and they've been doing so for a long time. You're not going to get many surprises with Suffocation, but boy do they do what they do well.
Congrats once again to Steve Keeler (pictured left) on keeping Rock Fantasy and heavy metal alive and well for 25 years here in the Hudson Valley!
Review and Photos-Pete Pardo