This was the most kick-ass line up I’ve seen all year. I was so focused on my interview with Mike Spreitzer that I missed identifying the acts leading up to Whitechapel and DevilDriver. So imagine my delight (I think I mentioned that I creamed my pants at one point) when I found out that Fit For An Autopsy, Rivers Of Nihil, <gasp> REVOCATION, and Carnifex were going to prime the pump. Come with me as I take you on a joy ride through metal mayhem!
FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY
These guys from New Jersey are no joke. They knew they had something to prove and they would have laid it out crystal clear, but the music was so crushing, relentless, and yes–brutal that the crystal would have been sand by the time they were done. I heard someone behind me shout, “Fucking-A! You should headline!” FfaA were down-to-earth, fan-loving guys too. There was much fist bumping and hand-slapping and the vocalist jumped down into the pit so that he could scream into the crowd’s faces. Naturally, the audience ate that shit up. Songs of note were “The Jackal” and “The Wolf,” and seriously, if these guys come round your way, check them out. You’ll be glad you heeded my advice.
RIVERS OF NIHIL
I’d heard ominous rumblings about this band. When they walked on stage I noted a certain nonchalance what with bare feet and a beer bottle slide used for the guitar sound check. RoN gave us an avalanche of sound with a six-string bass player double-tapping like a guitarist. Someone commented that “the sound man isn’t doing them any favors” and at least for the drums it was true, but that was the only fly in the ointment and the sound man must have heard it because the drum quality improved as well. Songs of note were “Rain Eater” with its gunfire percussion, “Fertile Altar” with its delicious groove and “Soil and Seed.”
Here’s where I got over-excited because I’d been dying to see this particular band live for months. I sing praises to the powers-that-be because they were amazing. Words defy description, at least for me, because every song was right on. These guys were tight and delivered some of the most epic tempo changes. The drummer kicked ass. You can trust my judgment on that because not only is my son a drummer, but he is only such because he took over my drumming lessons. So I pay especial attention to drummers (and bassists) and this bottom was tighter than a virgin on her wedding night. Revocation rolled out a new song called “Madness Opus” with the vocalist telling us that this was “the hardest [i.e. crushing] song we’ve ever written.” Yeah, it crushed.
“That’s fucking Black Flag, man,” and the speaker pretty much summed up the feel that the vocalist brought to the stage. Add to that supersonic guitars, pummeling drums, a bassist with hands like spiders, and a deep, guttural growl and you’ve got, “Motherfuckers are goddamn brrrutal!” They made the crowd jump (“Hatred”), they made the crowd scream (“Lie to My Face”), and they made the crowd lose their minds (“Hell Chose Me”). Even I was shouting that hell had chosen me (because I think every metal head understands the concept) by the end of the song.
The hounds of Whitechapel were hunting. Phil Bozeman’s signature barking vocals tore up the eardrums as the rest of the band treated the crowd to an audio-visual assault. Whitechapel knows how to put on a show and it was almost as if the guitarists (all four of them) were synchronized in their movements creating a phalanx of sound that made the skin tingle. The mosh pit turned into some serious crowd surfing that had Security scrambling as an entire wheel-chair, with owner ensconced, moved like a many-spoked sea-beast to the stage. Phil’s stance changed into a cagy wariness as he witnessed the crowd’s enthusiastic encouragement of the show’s chair-bound mascot (though the Chiquita banana did warrant comment). Whitechapel also instigated the Wall of Death where scores of metal-mad denizens rushed at each other like the two sides of an opposing army. You can view pictures of the mayhem in our Facebook album.
There were more women here than I’m used to seeing at metal shows and I think DevilDriver was the culprit <waggles eyebrows>. With their signature, fan-labeled groove metal, the ladies were up front and they were screaming like crazed banshees. Do not, I repeat, do not get in the way of one of these female Devils when she is banging her head to “End” or “Careless” or “Sail” or any other song for that matter. You will get hurt. I had to sit down as my equipment became the target of some ferocious foot-stomping and hair windmills. Dez was charming as always and used a super cool, retro microphone that made me totally envious. DevilDriver has a certain mystique that holds up well on stage but it’s their down-to-earth approach as well as their awesome music that has secured the loyalty of a devoted fan-base. “I saw DevilDriver on stage for the first time when I was nineteen, but Dez gave me some great advice when I was sixteen and I’ve followed it ever since,” said one twenty-six year old woman (who looked all of nineteen). That’s what turns music into gold, when it has that personal touch to it. Read our interview with Mark Spreitzer of DevilDriver HERE.
This tour carries on through the end of June. If you can, get out to see it. It’s worth every stinkin’ penny with which you must part. If you’ve seen the tour, what do you think of each of the bands? Tell us in the comments below.
I.O. Kirkwood is a Metal Descent contributor. You can check out her personal blog at http://iokirkwood.com.