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Category Archives: Archived Concert Reviews

Reviews 2001 – in NO particular order other than the one I copy-pasted them in! By Melanie unless otherwise noted.

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Embalmer, Somnus, Blessed Sickness, Sodomized and Blood Coven
Phantasy Niteclub, Lakewood, OH, January 18, 1997

Over 150 people packed into this small nightclub to see a showcase of metal that was diverse and well designed. Not the standard “metalfest,” where every band sounds basically the same (like a grindcore bill), this provided the listener (and watcher) to a variety of mind-expanding ideas and varieties within the blanket term of “metal.”

Amist a cloud of smoky haze and shadowy, shifting lights emerged Somnus, the opening band. Soothing female vocals (Rhiannon) contrasted sharply with the abrasive growling and spine chilling screaming vocals of Scott Hilberg. Dark brooding music with tempo changes and harmony – not the standard gothic doom “black metal” variety. The judicious use of lights and smoke, coupled with the evil eerie mood of the music, made for a unique refreshing and mind broadening beginning of the night. Many diverse elements were present in the music – black metal, grindcore, gothic, doom and classical packaged neatly for any listener. Stage presence was exceptional, and the set went smoothly. The audience stood enraptured in front of the stage, witnessing the empire of Somnus practice their master trade.

Blessed Sickness put melody and a fair degree of complexity to grind core and deathmetal. A problem that occurred at the Phantasy was a muddy sound, which every band had to attempt to overcome, which Blessed Sickness did a decent job of doing (esp. when in most grindcore the speed picking and blast beats lend themselves to a muddy sound). Notable events included a Pink Floyd cover tune…

Apparently Sodomized put out some pretty brain crushing grindcore, and did a pretty good job of it, but I missed all but the last song of their set (due to interviewing backstage). Normally they are as brutal as Mortal Decay or Dying Fetus, but muddied sound may have dampened this effect a bit. (For more info on this band, see interview -ed.)

Last minute replacements for Hemdale (who were forced to cancel due to injury within the band) Blood Coven managed to get a clean sound! After Embalmer played, the true dedicated fans remained in the crowd to watch the spectacle onstage. (Somnus and Blood Coven seem to have a predilection for black, leather, spikes, long hair and Jeff Walker-esque vocals having some common roots…) Leaving no doubts in the listener’s mind, this very clean and convincing deathmetal band delivered a raw bloody juicy reward to those who remained. Two vocalists (like early Carcass but no harmonizers), the use of guitar synth, and complex melodies marked the unique salient points of Blood Coven’s style. A treat for the deathmetal connoisseur in the visually and audibly entertaining department.

At least 3 of these bands (Somnus, Sodomized, and Blood Coven) have indicated in the future that they will be making appearances in the Columbus area. For the discerning fan, they are a must see and you will NOT be disappointed!

– Melanie

(typed by Jo!!!)

World Series of Metal
The Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, OH, Saturday, August 9, 1997

This celebrates the first anniversary of the budding little idea called Necrosis Magazine in our minds. The second WSOM we attended, and the first we were permitted to videotape at, was an enjoyable experience for all.

It was $15/ea. to attend, but with the bill (Incantation, Vital Remains, and Mortician headlining), it was worth it.

Several of the local bands were good…Jungle Rot, Descendant, Pathogen come to mind…we interviewed the former two and couldn’t locate any pathogens (:>), so…Odious Sanction had played the night before, so we missed them…

Turnout was sparse until about six pm, shortly before Blood Coven was to take the stage…(hmm, were people planning it that way?) We had planned on filming from a different location then was decided on finally, because all the sudden actual crowds began to push into the Ballroom to watch, mosh, and be tortured with the aural beatings.

Somnus…excellent. No lengthy description (here) needed. Trust us on this.

The promotion seems to have been better for Blood Coven and Somnus than the entire WSOM. Half of the crowd vacated after Somnus alone! There was a huge turnout for these bands…for good reason. They are both relentlessly good, regional acts with strong musicianship and dedicated followings.

Cancellations marred the bill. Regurgitation was supposed to be on the bill and never showed…Noctuary broke up that night (or something absurd like the day before!) so didn’t play, Internal Bleeding cancelled…so not only did the show recieve less than stellar promotion, the draw to the fest was poor so bands were cancelling left and right. If only the promoter knew Metal Mom’s abilities!! If only the sound could become clear in the place…oh well.

Then on to the WSODM (World Series of Death Metal;, or so it seemed)…Mortician, then Vital Remains, then Incantation…

Vital Remains had a good sound and one of the coolest banners I’ve seen in a while. Incantation was great, as usual, but was muddied by poor sound…as for Mortician, from what I could hear (near the speaker) it was B-tuned noises and some horror movie samples between songs. No discernible lyrics, but some good growling into the mike. Excellent guitar effects…when I was told they liked their music simple, I didn’t know that was an understatement!! Oh well…not like they were bad! Quite good, in fact. (for what they were playing)

“Incantation put on a great show. There were no equipment problems to mar their set this time. We filmed what appeared to be one of their better performances. The sound was a bit dim, but that could have been the sound guy *or* our ears getting fatigued by all the metal!”

Then we left. There were some silly bands on next. I heard they were bad, but who knows? I wasn’t there. We went home to check the videos, transcribe the interviews, and sleep.

Twas a great fest for $15…the all-access passes were quite difficult to obtain though, and the no-reentry after 7 pm thing sucked, as well as the fact that the next night was the “big headliners Megadeth” night, so the crowd was totally drawn away…for the money, I’d say go. Support the scene, hang out with the bands, etc…even if the place is less than perfect.

– Melanie

Michigan Deathfest
Pharoah’s Golden Cup Lounge and the Mosquito Club, Westland, MI, August 23, 1997

For a ten-hour aural assault, I found it to be relatively non-tiring and quite enjoyable. There were a lot of things which kept the show original, well-planned, and brain-scrambling fun. Cartainly more fun than the alternative: feeling like a loser because I couldn’t get a ride up there with my copublisher! We got out and supported the scene, forwarding the interests of many bands.

Key good points of the show: the booking and promotion were exceptionally good and high-quality, the music was excellent, the re-entry and access priviledges were supreme, parking and even food were good, the sound was good, and none of the big bands cancelled except Absu.

We arrived a tad late (missing Disinter) but still managed to clear up the guest list problem within five minutes and gain entry to the Fest. I remember spending a good part of the early afternoon interviewing lots of bands, waiting for yet *more* acquaintances to show up, and planning the next band to videotape. Of course, we got our ($30/ea.) money’s worth! We enjoyed the music of Malamor, Escalation Anger, Noctophilia, and Deathkids during this time…(remember, we also were running around like headless poultry doing taping and interviews. I think I may have been insane by night’s end.) All in all, the afternoon was a very enjoyable time to catch up Necrosis on all the “scoops” missed.

Warning: I don’t remember any bad bands. For a who-sucked list, go elsewhere.

Evening…I don’t know when I made the mental transition to this time, but I was interviewing Deeds of Flesh and Monstrosity, and thus missed the opening note or 2 of Somnus (before I bolted in, aghast…) Thus missing the opportunity to videotape probably the best show they have ever done. They sounded phenomenal. (wow, not a slip! Must have been the practicing, because it was not luck. They are better than having to rely on that excuse.) Then Master, then Escalation Anger, etc…until about nine. By then we were thoroughly entranced by the whole show thing…then Oppressor!! We were allowed onstage to videotape…

Night bands: The first (and the guys we know best) would have been Blood Coven…we had to race in to their set as well (missed the whole first song! *gasp*) after taping Oppressor. Tangled in electrical cords and very discombobulated, I managed to have a great time in front of a huge speaker, taping away. Then off to Monstrosity and Suffocation!

Needless to say, after these two bands, coupled with Oppressor and Master previously, my neck and back were quite sore (all the thrashing, done to great music)…the club was jam-packed for both bands, so I heard them (they sounded clear, crisp, tight, and good) but only saw them while going onstage (once to deliver pizza to my starving co-publisher who was videotaping!) When not sitting down (manning the merchandise table for Blood Coven, along with two of the members) it was a thrash-fest, an ear-bleeding assault.

Missed Fleshgrind (one of the last bands.) We were securing a ride back to the hotel…surprisingly, the show ended at about midnight. It was time very well spent for the attendee. Marred by very few problems, the fest was a great idea and a wonderful way to increase exposure of bands to fans and vice versa. Definitely worth going next year if there is one!! Bands: if I forgot to tell you you ruled, sorry! I don’t have a set list in front of me (like there was a well-done one even at the show!) Tell me and I’ll tacitly write it into the review…;> Necrosis is happy to have attended such a fest with a great turnout and lots of nice people.

– Melanie

Darkmoon, Infernal Descent, Somnus, From the Depths
Phantasy Niteclub, Lakewood, OH, September 19, 1997

Finally, a show where everything worked!! After Massillon ::groan::…it would have been okay to see the bands sitting in chairs playing acoustic sets, but…they didn’t! Instead, a killer show by all.

First up…Somnus…their quintessential opening slot. (I feel the show was poorly arranged, for there was a thin crowd at the beginning and the end, so the bands who opened and closed were automatically devoid of listeners). Despite this last-minute change of set time, Somnus put on (what else?) a great show. They did not jinx the videocameras either! No flaws in sound, excellent presentation with the smoke machine and eerie lights…what more could one want?

Next…Darkmoon. Black metal. They used to be Demonic Christ, which I am not familiar with, but I think the sound is different from the old band? Or so they said in the interview…well-done stage costuming, great visual appeal, and besides that? Screechy black metal vocal and the usual trappings of the genre. I think I was distracted by some people at that time so caught about 3/4 of their set.

Probably the most interesting visuals of the show were provided by Darkmoon. Pyrotechnic explosions, burning flames, and a lot of smoke accented the band. Although the other bands used the smoke machine (ack ack) the band who did it the most convincingly was Darkmoon.

From the Depths! Complex, not readily categorizable, tight, and the headliners! They put on a killer show as well, and I believe it was a full hour set. Well-deserved, for they were just signed to Candlelight Records. Definitely worth catching live!

The last band was Infernal Descent, and I didn’t get a chance to see them, because my friend wanted to leave early. That sucked.

The show was definitely worth attending, even in the downpour… worth anyone’s while to catch these bands the next time!

– Melanie

Macabre, Jungle Rot, Experiment Fear, Lung Brush, Morticus, Black Circle
Jackhammer, Schaumburg, IL, September 28, 1997

Show flyer This marked the first occasion I’ve had a chance to see Macabre live. Chicago’s infamous purveyors of “murder metal” played a dozen or so of their truly bizarre nursery rhymes, covering the usual wide array of topics, ranging from Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood hobbies (“Dog Guts”) to the machinations of such individuals as Fritz Haarmann, Ed Gein, and the Unabomber (now immortalised in one of Macabre’s new epics, appropriately titled “The Unabomber”).

Of most interest were the band’s new songs, which are superb – somewhat darker in sound than some of the band’s older material, and very catchy, of the high quality one would expect from Macabre. The band played several songs from their forthcoming Dahmer album, which may be out as soon as January or February, and one or two other new ones too.

Disappointments? Other than the length of the set, which seemed fairly short, the main one was the lack of “Fish Tales!” Apparently, they haven’t played this one live very many times, although it still baffles me why that song would be ignored… oh well. Hearing “The Hitchhiker,” to be featured on Dahmer was more than adequate compensation, however! The song is amazing.

Unfortunately, I missed the first couple of bands, and only arrived in time to see Lungbrush, Jungle Rot, and Macabre. Lungbrush seemingly felt compelled to demonstrate how tough they are, and to provide evidence of how much of a bad-ass the band’s vocalist is, he swore a lot. (This is, of course, irrefutable proof of being tough.) I also seem to recall their second song featuring the thought-provoking chorus “suck it, bitch,” which was further evidence for their being total bad-asses. Lungbrush wins my award for “least cerebral band of the month.” Congratulations, Lungbrush.

Jungle Rot were fairly enjoyable, albeit forgettable for the most part; I will state that their shirt designs are quite good, however, and would be worth picking up for the artwork alone. Speaking of shirt designs, Macabre’s are outstanding, also – in addition to the infamous “Eat at Ed’s” and “Zodiac” shirts, the Peter Kurten shirts they had for sale are most entertaining, and would be quite invaluable for making that special first impression on a job interview.

– Matt

Fusion Records, Benefit Show
November 16, 1997

Bill: Um… 13 bands, 2 cancelled before I arrived, making it 11 bands, of which I saw 9.

Details of the venue: Well, it was a basement club underneath a record store. There was a *small* drum riser, and there was (literally) a hole kicked into a wall for the sound guy to watch/mix through… (the hole led to an old, blocked off stairwell, and the soundboard was in the well, which ran next to the teeny area for the riser). Then, there was no stage, so…the bands “blocked off” (with their mic stands) the amount of space they needed. Very underground and cool. I loved the atmosphere. (except the asshole in the pit who ran into the videocamera and was swinging punches at people. He was drunk, and ugly…)

I can’t remember the names of most of these bands, because…they all sounded the same, they were new and local and I had never heard of them before, I don’t have a flyer in front of me (that’s a first!) or they were not loud enough or original enough or odd-looking enough to capture my attention. Most of them were that nupunk/hardcore thing…I think that punk was better when Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, and the Ramones did it… and hardcore is better in CBGB’s where there are more than 50 people.

Bands of note: Lubricator (female lead vocalist, and no guys to help her sing, excellent bassist, just plain raw angry punk stuff), Cholera (noisecore/death metal… and they had that growing out hair too, so they were not “too” regular… and they were loud enough to distract me from what I was doing, guarding equipment for a band!), and if I could remember their name… the last band… noisecore that sounded a lot like Brutal Truth… unfortunately I could not watch their whole set because I had to leave (was following people… as usual, had no idea how to get out of the place!)

Blood Coven: The band that made the power go out has to get the Best Band of the Evening Award. I told everyone they were going to put the power out… and sure enough, halfway through the second song, the lights began flickering more and more, and by the end of the third song, the stage lights were out!! Who, you may ask, could do this with a normal PA setup, built for most gigs? Blood Coven… as usual, great show, the thin (diehards, we all are, I tell ya) crowd loved them… (and they even played requests during setup… that was very cool!!) It is generally held that if you possess that much raw power (the drums were not even miked, and the only stuff going through the clubs’ PA were the VOCALS!!!!) that you are a band worthy of attention of the good sort. I wanted the ceiling tiles to fall in. Maybe next time. For those of you not acquainted with them, go see the interview in here… A must-see band.

– Melanie

Bloodshed, From the Depths, Blood Coven, Sodomized
The Machine, Massillon, OH, late Nov. 97

This time, the club figured out how to turn on the stage lights (wow!) but they forgot how to turn on the heat. (Last time, they forgot how to turn on the lights and the sound was mixed VERY poorly.) So, everyone in attendance was frozen after fifteen minutes (it was about twenty five degrees). The only respites from the cold were: to go to your car and sit with the heater on, or thrash and move around with great energy. We chose option two after sitting in the car for 2 1/2 hours waiting for Blood Coven to show up (so I could videotape).

The crowd was somewhat thin because Testament was playing in Cleveland or something that night, and Suffocation was somewhere else in OH. So, the timing was not perfect, but the people who did show up: thanks for supporting the scene!

The show started about an hour late as well. So, I stood there, pretty cold, looking rather silly with this videocamera-on-tripod setup poised.

Then, relief. Bloodshed took the stage. I would say they are a slower, more thrash-oriented band. The guitar riffs and percussion were simple, with moments of intricate brilliance. They have some potential for improvement. More impressive was their well-run “management” table. (the girlfriends made up the set lists, gave out flyers, and didn’t treat me like I was stealing their men for a change. That was nice!) Apparently they are a new band from Tiffin, OH. I look forward to seeing them grow.

Blood Coven was slated for the second spot. Another half an hour at least went by after Bloodshed got offstage (with their cabinets… <snicker>…). I got to stand around and look rather bored some more, until Blood Coven was onstage warming up and “soundchecking”. (the sound guy, Red, is so businesslike about it and half the time his mixes sound bad for the first five minutes anyway! It’s amusing). We were treated to some Marduk and the Darth Vader theme… nevermind the fact that it was so cold onstage (under the lights!! it’s usually one hundred degrees!) that bandmembers were warming hands before and between songs…besides these little problems (set delay, freezing cold) it was a welcome relief to be able to warm up (thrash my butt off while videotaping) and listen to some good music and watch a decent performance finally. I think Blood Coven had a forty five minute set. I know I couldn’t take off my leather jacket even while “exercising violently” due to cold, and I remember looking at the bandmembers, thinking, “how can they stand up there in sleeveless tops and spikes and not mess up?” It was a flawless set though, and now I have a video as well. I think they were cold enough to make a snap decision to leave right after loading gear (their own cabinets…), so, we had to leave after this. (so we wouldn’t be lost getting home. Dann is the best navigator…never fear while following him).

I missed Sodomized, which sucks; they are usually hilarious onstage and have a slower, catchy, grind-death sound. I really wanted to stay and support Dan Baker for booking such an awesome bill. Baker’s bills have been pretty good so far; apparently he was responsible for the Mortal Decay/Somnus/etc… show the last time around in Massillon.) The show was free to get into, (videography crew!) so the fact that we missed half the set was not upsetting from any sort of cost standpoint. I also missed From the Depths… by the time these bands went onstage, we were warm and well on our way back to Cleveland, after yet another pleasing show.

The bands are recommended. The venue is NOT!

– Melanie

Underture, Gatlin, Spawn, Testament
Ron’s Crossroads, Akron, OH, Dec. 12, 1997.

Kreator cancelled! I was so disappointed. Their old material (none of that new crap after Extreme Aggression I was planning on sitting impatiently through) is killer! Someone apparently left the band, said the promoter, so…the bill and thus the set / stage crowding was considerably reduced.

Underture opened the show, which started on time (!!!). The music was quite good…something of an odd hybrid between My Dying Bride and Malevolent Creation…mostly syncopated, heavy, agressive metal. Not quite death metal, but definitely courting some of the style. Good band, has a lot of potential, but needed some live polishing…(they stated they don’t play out much, so that could be the cause, four shows in two years?) There was a decent crowd for them, so the exposure gained was valuable.

I missed all of Gatlin because I was interviewing bands…I heard snippets of sound. It didn’t sound like my “cup of tea”, more power rock “metal” than something belonging on a Testament “Demonic Tour” bill. Apparently their following turned out in droves though, because when I emerged from the interviewing space, there was a new horde of fans…I wish I could say that the set was awesome, etc…but I didn’t see a minute of it. Oh well.

Spawn *did* play an excellent set though. Tight, controlled, angry…and NOT Satanic? That’s a nice change of pace! It’s more of a thrash / power metal sounding band, not death metal by any stretch of the imagination, but they did have some excellent early 80’s dual vocal-thrash metal sound. (a la Testament on Legacy, New Order) Lots of screaming…and their fanbase turned out in droves as well. (The Cleveland Mosh Team I believe they are called?) This is one of the obviously experienced live acts…the intros were smooth, the songs well-performed, no audible mistakes, and I think they crammed 11 songs into their set! (50 minutes?) This band dosen’t waste your time or money. Worth seeing if you are into more thrash-groove type music…

Testament! They performed an excellent set. This was the second time I have seen them with their new lineup…besides an excellent stage performance, huge crowd response, deafening thick sound, etc…they had color-coordinated guitars! (dark green) (Now, there’s an odd sight for a metal band: “hey guys, let’s match up our instruments…” “no, that’s not Khaki! It’s gotta be Khaki!”) “Into the Pit”, “Disciples of the Watch”, “Low”, “Dog-Faced Gods”, and other neck-snapping favorites were played to a ready, enraptured audience. Do I need to go on for endless paragraphs about how cool Testament was? We got to hear them practicing backstage before they went on…that was a treat…Definitely worth seeing Testament.

– Melanie

Memorial Show – Phantasy Niteclub, Jan. 2, 1998
Thirteen bands…

Cancelled: Odious Sanction, Apt. 213, Schnauzer

The show was supposed to be a memory of Tom Rojack / Decrepit’s final show thing. (Of course, I think about five of the bands actually mentioned this onstage, and the rest kinda “forgot”…) Proceeds from the show went to the making of a CD from the ADAT’s recorded from the sound board. There was a handsome showing of fans! (200+) (for once, a regional show draws a national crowd. Wouldn’t it be cool if these people would support their scene in NON-crisis times as well?) The show was set up and booked by Kyle Severn from Incantation, and he did a fantastic job of hauling equipment (the entire night without complaint) and keeping the show running smoothly. There were a few good regional, Tom-supporting bands left off the bill (and a few crappy ones ON the bill that didn’t give a rat’s ass about Tom) but I suppose this is not the place to gripe about it? (after all, it’s in the past.)

Order: (I think, pretty sure, know Somnus played after Hemdale and Incantation was last…)

Descend (6 pm) (the noisecore band), Soulless, Sodomized, Hemdale (freshly back from Europe…), Somnus (We MISSED you!!!!!! Welcome back!), Blood of Christ, Boulder (the rock band?), FTD/Decrepit, Escalation Anger, Asphalt, Ringworm Terror (first show in 9 years, great job guys!), Incantation (1.30-2 am).

Since it was such a packed, smooth, good-for-the-money show, I will only include highlights!

Of course Jim Konya was there, making all sorts of heckling comments to the bands, keeping the whole concert lighthearted as it should have been. (even during the “moment of silence” I don’t think people were as serious as the members of Decrepit/FTD wanted them to be.) Not a somber show.

Sodomized: Hilarious as usual (stage-presence wise). Very good performance. The sound guy didn’t have the “grind” band sound down perfectly as of then (the night was still young), so Sodomized had a slightly muddy sound, but their onstage intros and delivery, and the overall heaviness of the material made up for that. Of course these guys are one of the bands that gave a shit about Rojack (as are ALL of the bands I will highlight).

Hemdale: The second time I have seen them. Very good band! Everything was well done…onstage antics, intros done in a variety of screeches / voices / modes of shocking humor, and good music. Despite the lack of hair…or rather, they maybe don’t need a lot of it to get a “hey, we’re nearly signed, we just toured Europe, they love us, our music is better than our image…” message across? Worth seeing!!

Somnus: What a comeback! Chris, their new drummer, adds a new dimension to their already solid sound. It was quite pleasing to hear all of the “old” material livened up with the new percussion, but still much unchanged. Flawless, smooth set. They also didn’t overuse the smoke machine, thankfully. How much spine chilling can you pack into half an hour without entering a haunted house? Listen to Somnus…excellent stuff. Somnus alone would have been worth the eight dollars to get in…Welcome back!!

Decrepit: One thing they didn’t have to do was change members or equipment between playing as From the Depths to playing as Decrepit…so that saved about twenty minutes, but it left a vague confusion. (“so, are they playing a FTD song now or a Decrepit song?”) One thing was for sure – the FTD material was a lot more complex, well-written, and enjoyable. (Decrepit’s last show ever / laying Rojack’s spirit to rest.) I couldn’t see the band well…but I saw them before they took the stage and there was corpsepaint on the faces and blood (duck?) on the bodies…during one of the songs I believe Duane breathed fire (I saw a large flame and was told there might be something like that going on, so I infer…??) There were some black candles backstage and I think these were used as accent pieces but again, I’m short, I didn’t see them. It was a long, smoke-machine choked, well-run set. Someone said (from the crowd) “this is the best I have heard them sound in years”…lacking a key member (Tom Rojack, guitarist / composer) and they still sounded that good? I saw Decrepit WAY back when and I don’t even remember what they sounded like, so I can make no comparison, but I trust this person’s opinion.

Escalation Anger: Why did the crowd try to kill Aaron? He must have been hit in the teeth about five times with the mike! The set was crunchy, excellent, hyper…much thrashing of the hair and dreads…much jumping around…very entertaining. Now seriously folks, if you LIKE a band (from the huge show of hands, the large mosh pit, and the droves packed against the stage) DO NOT throw beer bottles at them, mess with their mikes, hurt their equipment, etc etc etc…it only hurts you in the end as fans. (that’s why “bouncers” are hired, to throw out disorderly or dangerous fans.) Good band.

Terror: At first I had them confused with Destructor (who lost Dave Ianicca) so I ran up to the front as fast as possible to spectate and show support…then I remembered…but Terror was still one of the better bands! They sounded like a cross between Possessed and early Slayer. One of the only bands of the evening to make me “headbang”…(thrash) I wish I had been videotaping them. This was their first show in nine years and went very well, all things considered. Welcome back!

Incantation: The headliners of the evening. What else to be expected from Incantation then fast, brutal, evil death metal? Daniel was (still thankfully) singing and playing guitar for them, and what a performer! This is the third time I have seen them with Daniel and it seems to be a good match. Filming from onstage, at times, we were *quite* close to John and I actually had to sit back a few times (lest I get hit in the head with the guitar headstock). Eerie (no lights), convincing, and well-dedicated. Only the true diehards stuck around for Incantation, who played last.

The Three Days of Madness – Michigan – Ohio
Jan. 9-11, 1998
Epitaph Magazine and MM Productions, in Celebration of Metal Mom’s 50th Birthday
Reviewed by Melanie

Bands:

Cancelled: Enter Self (drummer Chad got mono)

Friday-
Secretion
Blood Coven
Somnus
Darkmoon
Lucifer’s Hammer
Exploding Zombies
(Gutted was cut from this bill – that sucks!)

Saturday-
Cryptic Embrace
Arius
Blood Coven
Darkmoon (nearly cut from bill but still played a great 35 min. set!)

Sunday-
Flesh Gallery
Blood Coven
Ahkahru
Gutted
Arius (nearly cut from bill but ended up playing last – 30 min.)
Secretion (cut from this bill – that sucks!)

Reviews by date:

Friday, Jan. 9, 1998: JD Macomb’s Theater, Detroit, MI

Friday’s show was done in a HUGE, gilded, decorated, cavernous converted theater (now a dance club?). The sound was very unbalanced for the first two bands (the soundman had apparently never mixed a death metal band before?). The performances looked quite spectacular on the huge stage with about thirty television monitors against the back wall, flashing randomly, and of course the infernal dance floor lighting (I think that gave us all a headache!)…Overall, the turnout was a little poorer than expected with such heavy promotion, but the crowd which did attend was illustrious and treated to some very good sets.

Highlights:

Somnus – Excellent, tight, perfectly balanced set. Spread out on that large stage, Somnus looked ready to take on the world. If there were errors in delivery or sound, they were well covered up by the video and the soundman and careful mixing through the PA. (26000 watts of Somnus. What an experience!) Worth the admission price alone. What a spectacle!

Darkmoon – Drove in all the way from Charlotte, NC, for a 25 minute set of blazing “battle metal”, a hybrid between black metal and a variety of other influences. Excellent stage presence for this three peice (especially when “forced” to spread out on the large stage.) Impressive and well-done.

Lucifer’s Hammer – Metal Mom’s son is in this band! They also played a convincing, driving set of technically proficient, good metal….seemed to be a hybrid between black metal (with the keyboards and some of the arranging) and death metal (vocals, delivery, etc…). Good stuff.

Saturday, Jan. 10, 1998: The Whit’s End, Toledo, OH

Excellent show all around for the final three bands. (the first band was pretty derivative and I think most of my time was spent doing interviews, gossip, setting up, etc…so I mostly missed them and can’t seem to regret that.)

Of the 3 shows booked by Epitaph Magazine and MM Productions, this was the show that ran the smoothest, had no cancellations or bands cut from the bill due to time constraints, and had the most atmosphere. It was a show attended by about seventy devotees of the regional metal scene, and to those who attended – they bore witness to an intensity and performance overall rarely paralelled.
The club was an upstairs-downstairs affair, with the bar downstairs and the stage upstairs. (so drinking was convienent but playing was a back-breaking-equipment-hauling, sweaty “deal”.) It was small, and the stage was remotely lit with recessed bulbs…(so the bands appear lighted from the middle of nowhere on the video footage.) At times, the lights left something to be desired, but at least the club was heated and well-ventilated. Recommended venue for regionals and nationals that really want to “pack” the place…capacity is probably 150 max per floor…
Cryptic Embrace opened the night. The sound was not quite balanced, as often happens to opening bands, so it sounded vaguely muddy…the music was decent but fairly drivative (and the prop setup took longer than the cabinets – for shame on such a teeny stage when the music should be first priority!) Good band, but “needs some work…” They played about forty minutes which gave the rest of the bands time to “hang out”, witness the performance, get drinks, etc…and of course, it gave us (the “video crew”) time to set up and test out the lighting and stuff. A valuable thing when filming for future releases…
Arius was second. Seven song, super tight set (even with a minor technical glitch that took all of two minutes to fix). Highlights of the set…”Last Suffer”, the title track from their classic 1995 demo, played convincingly to a rapt audience, and “Eviscerate”. Another highlight was the song so new yet so well-rehearsed that it is nameless but still quite good when played live. They have a driving tempo, a carrying sound, and excellent stage presence…definetly worth seeing live if you can. (they don’t perform all that often so stay closely tuned to the scene to find out when the next dates are!) It was the first time I had seen Arius, as I had been waiting since February of 1997, and I was not a bit disappointed. Then…
Devon – Dorkmoon : Jan 10, 1998     Arius – Jan. 10, 1998

Blood Coven graced the stage with a charismatic, contagious evil enthusiasm I had not seen the likes of until then. Not only were the songs played well, and tight, and convincingly with bloodlust and anger, but the intros to the songs were a rare treat (good mood?)…Highlights: the “Blood Coven love song”, the Kiss of Ahkahru; and the classic Mayhem cover of Freezing Moon. Amazingly, my video footage came out well, despite my insistence on “headbanging” throughout these songs. (I paid dearly for that indulgence the next day, that took a few ibuprofen to get the neck and back soreness to abate.) (hint – videographers : get a tripod!! This leaves you free to thrash!) Standing four feet away from angry deathmetal musicians adorned with a vast array of sharp spikes, chromed chains, and black leather is an experience I cannot relate in print. Just take my word for it…go and see them live! You will NOT be disappointed. This was their best performance to date. A flawless set with excellently balanced sound, a live fury of thrashing hair and stage presence, and a bond with the crowd rarely established made it justly so. And then…
Darkmoon from North Carolina headlined this show. They are “battle metal”, an odd hybrid between black metal and some other category known only to the originators of the term “battle metal…” I would call them black metal to the uninitiated…in a cloud of (choking awful) smoke machine, they began an excellent, relentless, pounding set which left me partially deaf until the next night. They only played 35 minutes but it was an unparalelled intensity from their previous performance in Ohio. The whole crowd stayed to witness them, which was good. “Writhing Glory” was probably the highlight of the set. Most of the songs are an extensive mix of guitar synth, keyboards (not used this night), and standard death metal instrumentation…so the overall effect is a rich, total aural experience. (it’s deep, man…deep…)  After this show if I had died, I would have died happy. Damn killer show. The video is available (shot from four feet away, it’s a collectible) and any who wish to share in the spectacle may contact Melanie (me!) for information…

Sunday, Jan. 11, 1998: The Mosquito Club, Westland, MI

Cursed show! I think every band had some form of problem…must have been the club or the air or something. The sound was decent (but like previous ventures at the Mosquito, it was very staticky on the video…very distorted. Old or blown PA?) The show was also shut down at 1130 pm…a miserably early time to leave a 7 $ show even for a fifteen year old (and I am sure there were several of those present.) Definetly not a fitting end to the weekend. A case of “well-meaning-promoter getting-jerked-around-by-the-venue” again. I enjoyed the show, but that is because I was filming several bands I already knew and liked…for the average human that had never seen these bands before, I surmise it may have been a disappointment.

Highlight:
Gutted : Jan. 11, 1998

Gutted – the only band with a flawless set and a crowd response! They played an hour of crunchy, bone-grinding, neck-snapping death metal. Quite enjoyable. Too bad they were not allowed to play this on Friday as well!! This was supposed to be their CD release party…and about twenty people showed up for it! Not good, crowd…if you want metal to live on in Michigan, you are going to have to start attending shows besides Cannibal Corpse…because if you don’t, then all the bands will book in Cleveland instead, where people show up just to hear Jim Konya heckle the bands!!! Gutted kicked major ass at this show.

– Melanie

Friday The 13th In Toledo, Death Metal Style

Reflections of Death, Arius, Mi’gauss, Somnus
The Whit’s End; Toledo, OH…Friday the 13th of Feb!
Show review by Melanie

First band, Reflections of Death, sounded familiar…doing something like “old Gutted covers”…I enjoyed the “groove” and mid-tempo agression quite a bit. Great way to open the night. The band has a lot of potential.
Arius! Second band, biggest draw. Excellent set. Of course, I filmed from the other side of the stage, and got moshed for it…BUT the video turned out great. Too bad I had to watch the drunk idiots in the pit instead of enjoying every second of oozing viciousness of Arius. No technical difficulties this time, no cut set time, no bad mix – just unrestrained, raw power. Each song had it’s moments, from “Kein Gott” (means “no god” in German – and the song is all in German) to “The Last Suffer”, Arius delivered. Worth the 2 1/2 hour drive alone.
Mi’gauss – came in all the way from PA. The night before, the bassist left the band, so they were forced to play as a two-peice. (rather than cancel the show) Black/death metal, well-delivered considering the circumstances. They told me to say “they sucked, it was a terrible set”, but it wasn’t! People *were* up front, and paying attention, for a reason. The band has potential, if they can land a bassist. The band name means “total warfare” in Shawnee (Native American tribe for all of you who don’t know your true forefathers!)…music fit the band name and the theme well.
Somnus – couple of changes noted. In “Fulfilling the Throne”, Rhiannon the keyboardist sings the verses formerly sung by Scott, no more unusual male *singing* there. It still sounded good but not the immediate-attention-grabber it once was. One older song, “Dominion”, was played quite well, after being reworked a little. They played up to their established par and standard, as usual – expect no less. Apparently someone (in the band?) forgot to promote this so there were about twenty people there to see Somnus, who did *not* play that late (12-1 am?), one of Cleveland’s finest (goth/doom/black metal?) bands. Good set. Very few witnesses though.
People, get out and support your scene! These bands are what will make the future “most killer” bands you listen to. National acts are great…but they were regional acts at one time…don’t forget that your scene exists.

– Melanie

Blood Coven, Biaxident, Skar, Reckless-Opp, Kryptkicker, Signal 30
Peabody’s DownUnder, Mar. 27 1998

We arrived late because of traffic. I had about three minutes to untangle my mass of cords and plug in the videocamera – just in time to catch Dave Ingram from Blood Coven in the act of neatly slicing up his arms…and the next 35 minutes of the show were memorably “vicious, intense, killer”. Excellent stage presence as usual – they certainly have not been slouching on their three month hiatus! Music was tight (a little slower but far more clear) and the drummer Rick is doing a fine job. Watching the “Kiss of Akhkhahru” (admittedly, my favorite song of theirs) and blood running down Dave’s arms is *something else*, a sight to behold – not something explainable in words as he quaintly put it after the set.

I’m not much into “metalcore”. (“Yo, we’re Reckless-Opp from Erie County, Ohio, get wid this…” and then they played a Pantera riff…*icky*) I missed 90% of this show because I was interviewing Blood Coven (for another magazine) or passing out Ohio Metal Website flyers to fans outside of the venue. According to my friend Brian, who drove me there, I didn’t miss anything. We left at about 10:30 pm – before Kryptkicker even played.

You get the point about who you need to see. ‘Nuf said.

-Melanie

The Ohio DeathFest 1998 – Two Days of Madness!
Apr. 3-4, 1998; Phantasy Theatre, Lakewood, OH

Cancelled:

Apt. 213
Escalation Anger
Deeds of Flesh (who according to their manager cancelled “just because – they didn’t want to play, band troubles, new members…”)

Subbed in:

Mortician (for Deeds of Flesh
Darkmoon (for one of the regionals)
Arius (but then they were told while setting up gear they they couldn’t play! They ended up not playing after driving in 3 hours with all of their “gear”.)

HIGHLIGHTS of the show:

(as with the other fest reviews – go elsewhere for a “who sucked” list)

Friday – Goresick, Deaden, Dying Fetus

Goresick – from Toledo, played a more mid-tempo, chunky / groovy set, replete with low “growly” vocals. It was an enjoyable way to open the Fest!
Deaden – played about half-way through the night and were again, a slower and clearer form of death metal than the fest seemed to be having.
Dying Fetus – closed the night with a sound unlike the other bands – again, a catchier, more compex-oriented sound; not just “rawr” and blastbeats and gore lyrics. Boy is that BORING guys! I mean, the trend is super-saturated, you can stop now….

Saturday – Darkmoon, Somnus, Blood Coven, Jungle Rot, Lucifer’s Hammer, Fleshgrind, Incantation, Internal Bleeding.

Better night overall. They actually booked something besides “sexist gore” bands! I missed the opening band of the evening and came in during Darkmoon.
Daniel – Incantation : Ohio Deathfest 1998     Jason – Blood Coven : Ohio Deathfest 1998
Deaden:Von Young&Ethan Deppe,and Bob Gilmore<Metal Blade Records>:OH Deathfest 1998     <me!> Yeah I know it’s a silly picture but I was there too! <grin>
Darkmoon – Excellent black metal, good stage show, and they were easily the loudest band there (I could hear them quite clearly outside and behind the venue.)
Somnus  – performed to par with one minor stage mishap – singer Scott Hilberg’s guitar broke, forcing him to sing (and not play vs. do both as usual) half the set. Rare!
Scott – Somnus : OH Deathfest 1998 <singing>

Jungle Rot – played their brand of catchier death metal – see the recurring theme here? If you weren’t a boring blastbeat gore deathmetal growly band, I noticed! This goes for the record labels in attendance as well! <grin>

Lucifer’s Hammer – played atmospheric black-doom type metal as they have been perfecting slowly over the course of the last decade.

Blood Coven –  There was (rather profuse) bleeding from the arms of Dave Ingram. The set was slower, clearer, and more back / neck-breaking than usual. (read: quite enjoyable) A performance easily to par by these seasoned musicians.
Dave Ingram – Blood Coven : Bleeding at the OH Deathfest 1998

Fleshgrind – The bassist Ray was a maniac! I thought he had a wireless but no – he was running all over the stage, carefully “watching” the cord while thrashing and milling about! The band sounds rather earlier-Corpseish – not too bad; they didn’t border on boring which seemed to be my attention-cutoff-point.
Incantation – Daniel. Daniel’s stage presence “makes” this band. The live sound was rather muddied (I am told a cabinet was blown) but as usual, the stage presence and sheer “buzz” about them seemed to make up for whatever lack of “bite” they possessed that night.
Internal Bleeding – who “headlined” the night along with Mortician, had a non-musical highlight: about fifteen people were onstage during their set – they were actively encouraging safe audience participation. I saw no stagediving but the number of people onstage without mishap was “cool”!

-Melanie

Odious Sanction, Somnus, Suffocation
Peabody’s DownUnder, Cleveland, OH May 20, 1998

To open the night, Odious Sanction was chosen. Odious Sanction has been an Ohio mainstay since 1992 at least. They came quite close to dissolving recently, but then welcomed in the former bassist of Happy Rainbow Death, now credited with “saving” the band. An angry 30-odd minute set followed this warm intro. Much pacing and thrashing of hair, and angry screaming was observed.  The band has not lost it’s following and this is a good sign.  They have a very heavy sound, somewhat like newer Slayer (it’s not DM but close, except for the vocals). Not bad.

Somnus followed. Somnus is still progressing. In the middle of their set, they played a new song, which sounded good. (it’s untitled as of yet, so I cannot expound on many details.) It didn’t suck. Nor did the rest of the set! No major problems (except the monitors? as usual)… Fluid, melodic, moody, good stuff. Maybe the promoter was looking for some form of “calming” interlude between Odious Sanction and Suffocation?

Finally, after much anticipation, Suffocation hit the stage with much anger, much intensity, and of course, the characteristically good stage presence they are known for. Larry Mullen had a few “words” about their old drummer’s “departure” and the guy from Dying Fetus “stepping up”… and then two songs later he heard disco coming from next door and had a few angry words about that… of course, this whipped the crowd into a frenzy and a mosh pit of death resulted. One hour of neck-snapping fun ensued. An overall quite enjoyable show.

– Melanie

Clean Flesh, Nile, Incantation
Phantasy Symposium, Cleveland, OH, May 21, 1998

Clean Flesh. Well, they said they were changing their band name, (to something I cannot remember)… I remember someone sitting behind me saying “give it up for the drummer!” (they use a drum machine) Um… I suppose they were interesting, being the only ore-core-anti-female band on an otherwise killer bill! *yawn*

Our patience paid off. Having never heard Nile, nor witnessed them live, I had basically no idea that to expect besides “they are killer!” So… I waited to see if this was true. It is! They played a very tight, eye-opening set (my favorite parts were the eerie guitar-synth “howling of the Jinn” during the song of the same title and any other interlude that was not straight grindcore-fast blasting stuff). The music is not heavily reliant on just speed, or just riffing, but is very well-balanced and riginal. They have an excellent stage presence and crowd awareness, play their material with confidence and skill, and they are not run-of-the-mill metal. Definetly worth cheking out many times.

Incantation, as usual, had a crowd of die-hards right up front, witnessing all of their onstage “brutalities”. New bassist Rob Yanch (Angel Dust Records, NY) rounded out the sound quite nicely, and added another facet to the band’s live performances (as well as future recordings? We hope!)  Welcome to the war Rob! The rest of the band shredded through “The Ibex Moon” and other stalwart favorites as well as opening the set with new material from “Diabolical Conquest”. John McEntee played through a plague of guitar problems, showing that seasoned musicianship can overcome difficulty. (I didn’t note a huge chunk out of the performance *or* the sound despite the fact that he had to switch guitars…) These guys put 110% into their tours (“famine tours”, and aptly named!) and their live set, so check them out. Horns up!

– Melanie

Slayer (w/System of a Down, Clutch)
The Odeon, Cleveland, OH; June 10, 1998

This is the band I have been waiting three years to see again, and ten years to talk to… to say “Slayer rules” is rather an understatement… <grin>

I literally sat through System and Clutch, earplugs in, content. I have no clue why these bands are touring with Slayer. I suppose it exposes Slayer fans to Clutch fans and vice versa.. (so maybe it’s a cool marketing/merchandising thing for the label..??) but to subject the Slayer fans to *ack* Clutch.. rather sucks. The 2 openers had half-hour LONG sets and there was a scant 20 min. in between bands (so no interviews possible until post-show). Just long enough for us to get hyped about spending 28$ apeice to see Slayer!!

Ah, Slayer. Regarded by this staff as a sort of “litmus-test” band. (‘if you don’t like/know Slayer, what are you?’) …”Hell Awaits” opened the night. Of course there were many mosh pits, much crowd surfing, and as always, the usual compliment of fights, angry fists in the air, etc. What else would you expect from the crowd come to see a band that spawned speed-metal and launched extreme music into another dimension? The band played well; very tight, great stage presence, well-seasoned musicians, etc.. Many old favorites were played – “South of Heaven”, “Chemical Warfare”, “Mandatory Suicide”, “Altar of Sacrifice”, “Die By The Sword”, “Angel of Death” (of course! No Slayer show is complete without this – it was the closer..), “Dead Skin Mask”, and two tunes from the new LP, “Diabolus in Musica”. What a killer show.. worth the wait, the heat, the pain, and the money. Slayer delivered again!!

Cleveland is generally regarded as a town with a good metal scene. There are a lot of bands in the area that claim Slayer somewhere in their influences. Yet, there were just a smattering of representatives from the burgeoning Cleveland metal-band scene that I know there (not counting ourselves).. everyone else was/is posing? We are broke, and had work the next day too, so that dosen’t “fly”..

– Melanie

Morbid Angel, Vader & Incantation
June 22nd, 1998 –  Ground Zero; Spartanburg, SC.

After a 3 1/2 hour drive we crossed the threshold of Ground Zero to find Steve Tucker hanging out at the door way as if he were just another metalhead and not the godly front man of Morbid Angel. The crowd was growing to near half capacity by the time Incantation took the stage.  “Death’s chosen warriors” lead by Daniel Corchado roared forth from the fog as the crowd continued to grow steadily.. By the third song of their set the venue was reaching half capacity and the pit was lurching to life. This was my first live Incantation experience (aside from bootlegs) so I couldn’t say if it was their best show, but their set was as solid as stone and pit did not cease for its entirety. The crowd’s roaring for more were quelled with one of my personal favorites ‘Diabolical Conquest’ ending Incantation’s set.

Next to take the stage was Poland’s death masters Vader. Surprisingly enough everyone standing near me had no idea who they were, most were asking if they were Haunted?! (who were advertised on the bill but did not perform).. The floor actually began to dissipate? as Pioter and company took the stage. Seeming somewhat discouraged Vader launched into a set that I knew would dominate the evening. Before the end of the first song all had seen the error of their ways and the front stage area was again packed.  Vader’s show was nothing short of awe inspiring as they ripped-out track after track from 1997s ‘Black to the Blind’ and drummer “Doc” executed foot-work that rendered every drummer’s face in the club a mask of disbelief. By the end of their set the pit had become nearly full of seething bodies raised fists demanding “encore.” Vader obliged with two more songs and took their leave.

By this time the house was packed. Lisa Gerrard’s “Mirror Pool” echoed throughout the club and the crowd awaited Morbid Angel. Steve Tucker and company erupted into their set with “Assent Through the Spheres” and the pit responded accordingly. The entire front row was lashing hair and raised fists as a single security guy fought to keep enthusiastic moshers off the stage. By the time the set wound to “Rapture” the floor itself seemed to be heaving and the ceiling raining beer, bodies and ceiling tiles.. The fact that the floor was concrete and the beer was in glass bottles was slowly becoming less trivial (hehe) as the pit continued to churn. The show raged on through “The Heaving Earth” and “Lord of all Fevers and Plagues” further establishing the fact that Steve Tucker has more than filled the shoes of the departed Vincent and brought a whole new element of ferocity to the project. The rage of the crowd reached its summit as (after a few near brawls) the inevitable occurred. The pit widened into a circle with two in the center, shoves were exchanged and a punch delivered, reeling its recipient off the floor and onto his back..  Even Eric Rutan and Steve Tucker seemed to take pause to savor the moment before progressing with their set. The only way off the stage at Ground Zero is strait through the crowd and Morbid Angel were not permitted their leave until the 3rd encore.  Following the show Trey Azagthoth spoke to fans and signed autographs as Steve Tucker manned the back door shaking hands with virtually every member of the mass exodus. By far the best show the best show I’ve seen this year, no rock star attitudes, just an evening of the sweat, intensity and violence that is death metal.

-Scot

Prune, Blood Coven, Internecine, Incantation, Morbid Angel
Cleveland Agora; July 10, 1998

You know a show is special when members of other national death metal acts show up from six hours away just to sell shirts in the parking lot and support the scene/hang out.. in this case, it was Mortician, coming in from New York to watch.. A special night it was. Full moon, ominous air hanging thickly over the crowd…

To commence the evening of intensity was Prune, a metalcore act, which didn’t draw much attention.. this style of music does not fit on a death metal bill, no matter how many tickets they sold during the past fiscal year. *sigh* Mismatched openers. Would have been good on an Odious Sanction bill, but not this one.

Then, intro : “Yeah, we’re back”.. (if you weren’t a Blood Coven fan, you would have had *no idea* who they were..) Well, maybe you could have guessed by looking at Dave, covered in his own blood from about his breastbone to his beltline. (video stills and photos pending of this sight to be seen.) Screaming, bleeding, shredding musicians amidst a rapt audience.. good stuff. Blood Coven’s first show out with their second new drummer in six months, was definetly worth watching!

Musically, Internecine have acheived what most of the black-death metal crossover bands are attempting. Wailing harmonics, low gutteral vocals and high “banshee” styled black metal vocals, with the “no corpsepaint” death metal image. The band was tight, the songs fluid, and the delivery convincing. Unfortunately, like all of the opening bands, their set was cut very short – just four songs. Look for this band in the future, they are promising.

Taking the stage amidst eerie effects and blackout conditions, Incantation emerged. Incantation performed to a rabid, waiting crowd. They are finally getting the welcome and the draw that they deserve in their adopted hometown. Appeared to be a flawless performance. (few tuning sessions needed, nothing major went wrong) The band worked the crowd into several violent mosh pits, and I also saw several dedicated die hard fans thrash all the way through the six song (too short!) set. Favorites included “The Ibex Moon” and the closer, Diabolical Conquest”.

Morbid Angel. Technically proficient, musically diverse seasoned musicians, and tight. Well-rehearsed, well-played material that spanned all of their albums. They ended the set with “Damnation”, my favorite track off of “Altars of Madness”, so I was pleased. New vocalist/bassist Steve Tucker from Cincinatti, OH did a wonderful job at maddening the audience to a crowd – surfing, chanting, moshing rage.. and the wailing solos of Trey Azagthoth pierced through even the most rumbling riffs to pique the interest of listeners. A good show, and a perfect night for death metal, it was.

-Melanie

Note: The following is a review submitted by an EVILMUSIC staffer under conditions of total anonymity in order to further the understanding others have for his  overwhelming and selfless support for such underground acts as the mighty DEICIDE.

Deicide
Jaxx – Springfield, VA
July 31, 1998

This was a chance I wasn’t sure I’d jump on – tickets were $20, but given that there are only a handful of decent death metal bands still in existence and that Deicide’s last tour was funded by the band, who cut costs by touring in a rented U-Haul, I decided I’d throw my support behind them for this evening.

I showed up at a familiar club in an otherwise banal metropolitan area.  The evening began as three mediocre and completely forgetable bands opened the show. While being technically competent or even skilled, they didn’t understand death metal or composition in general, and at times seemed like a parody of death metal with mumbled song introductions like “here’s another one about murderers” or “this one’s about dying”.

Up to a half-hour before he took the stage, vocalist Glen Benton signed autographs and chatted amicably with fans in the lobby.  It was good to see this in light of the many stories about other Florida death metal bands behaving in an arrogant “rockstar” manner.  After some minutes of inspirational conversation Benton disappeared to get prepared for the musical onslaught that was to come.  When Deicide took the stage, Benton announced that this was a warm-up show to the live album they will be recording on August 4th at the House of Blues in Chicago.  Wearing a leather vest clad with metal studs and a wicked spike on the right shoulder, Benton looked like like a Satanic warrior ready for war.  The band opened with “When Satan Rules His World” and unleashed the beginning of a furious attack of hatred and disgust for Judeo-Christian society.

The set was mostly from “Serpents of the Light” and “Once Upon the Cross”, with a scattering songs from their self-titled debut, but few from “Legion” – an album they seem to really dislike and claim that it was too technical for the majority of fans to appreciate, despite a hardcore minority who swear by it. I was disappointed by this decision but found myself enjoying the constant physical motion demanded by the pumping speed and relentless, combative percussion of their later albums. After several minutes observing the band I was lost in the energy, rhythm and ideological front presented by their performance.   The four long-haired band members projected confidence and both physical and mental strength, but also a strong will of active defiance.  Guitarist brothers Eric and Brian Hoffman had an imposing stage presense with their guitars blasting evil melodies strummed at a ridiculously rapid rate by muscular arms strobe-slashing the strings. Benton’s spiked vest combined with his strong Italian features and powerful bandmates made it possible to imagine the band as a Roman legion destroying the empire of Christ, though delayed by various excursions for two thousand years.

The music of Deicide is powerful, whether interpreted as something close to performance art or as a legitimate expression counter to Judeo-Christian society.  The gem of its energy seems to be completely in composition, intensity, and a reluctance to create songs longer than about three minutes.  Guitar melodies and dissonance are relatively simple but persuasive.  They are compellingly expressive without getting caught up in technical posturing. Even the solos are a natural flowing of tones that are purposeful and generally free of difficulty. A well skilled guitar player could fill in for either of the guitarists, but would not be able to fill in for their compositional abilities.  Drummer Steve Asheim was nothing short of fascinating.  His double bass technique is probably the fastest and most consistent of any drummer in death metal.  He has about a dozen cymbals/crashes/splashes of varied pitches and uses them both individually and in combination to create drum melodies that compliment the rhythm he produces.  For double bass he seemed to alternate between laying down the inside or outside part of his foot on each petal, as if deriving torque from the movement to make the pulsing impact even more rapid and powerful.  His hands were a constant blur between the constant snare attack and the various cymbals he chose. It was a choreographed attack of intensity that flowed like a ballet in its precision, but produced a destructive driving rhythm.

Though the sound at the club was horribly washed out and overdriven to the point of often making the guitar tones impossible to discern, the drum and vocal driven rhythms remained audible and linked the audience to the throbbing violence projected by the men onstage.  These cores of  Deicide’s music united its rage and beauty with the anger and restless dissatisfaction evident in the motion and language of the fans, mostly young men, in attendance.  While I could see how some were oblivious,  the majority of us could not avoid the vortex of intensity which drew us toward the powerful essence of the impetus behind these songs, and as I left, I found myself wanting more, chanting “KILL HIM” with a departing horde of sweaty and nowhere near exhausted attendees.

-anonymous

Nile – World Series of Metal
Aug. 8, 1998; Cleveland, OH

Okay, I had one purpose to go to this fifteen-band show. That was to see Nile. I was in charge of getting half the Band to the venue on time, and luckily I was able to fulfill this requirement. (We’re talking *just in time*, too!) Of course, while I waited for them to arrive at my home, this means I wqas missing a whole bunch of bands at WSOM. No big loss, for Nile delivered once they hit the stage, in a big way.

Favorite songs of the set : “Howling of the Jinn”, “Smashing the Antiu” (closer), “Serpent Headed Mask”, and the opening song.. Of course, the sound was excellent even from the side of the stage (“backstage”), and it appeared to be even better for the crowd. The band was tight, the music crisp and well-delivered, and the band, although tired from their 11 hour drive, performed with thrashing hair and good stage presence.

The crowd was a seething mass of “horns up” signing, sweating fans, screaming “Nile!!” at every song break and even some of the solos.. it was a bit too hot in the venue for a true mosh pit-frenzy to be worked upo, but the crowd got involved in the music as much as they could. About 500 of these maniacs witnessed Nile’s smashing of the competition! <grin>

– Melanie
Sunday August 9
World Series of Metal; Agora Ballroom; Cleveland, OH

Highlights:

We arrived at 5:30 pm (show started at 4:30) and managed to miss Blood Coven. They had a very early spot, unusual for a band which performs so frequently in the area. The security/staffing in the Agora is terrible – they throw stage divers off the stage, they rigidly enforce bar profits (qoute to me : “get rid of those Cokes or I’m going to get rid of you”, and I had a VIP!), occasionally for no reason at all they refuse to allow people to take photos <even if photo passes are procured>.. They also promote the shows as if they are going to appear in the much larger  Theater, and then at the last minute they refuse to open that part of the venue and make even the largest signed nationals play in the smaller Ballroom. *sigh* What can I say, the venue sucked, but thankfully the show did not.

Angelcorpse – Wow. assmose Productions made a good decision in signing this band. Sounding like a cross between Vader, Marduk, and Morbid Angel, they delivered. Mostly blackish metal with some elements of death metal thrown in for good measure, they kept my attention. Best band of the night.

Cannibal Corpse – Good set! ‘Nuf said! All humor aside, the band performed up to their usual par. Many crowd-pleasing favorites were played, which resulted in much moshing, chanting, crowd-surfing, and the usual barrage of raised fists.

Deceased – I did not know what to expect from these veteran Relapse Records artists. I thought it was going to be straight death metal, but it was not. More of a thrash/speed with some elements of death. Convincing, agressive, and good. Definetly worth seeing again.

Somnus – New material! “Within” and one other song were played, announced as new material. ‘Twas good stuff! Get the “Promo 98” from the band – it features “Within” and is worth adding to your collection.

Stitch – Wow, a band I am impressed with from the local scene, I’d not heard of before. They have an impressive press kit and a better sound. It’s deathmetal with some slower, more melodic or metalcore edges. It’s not speed and gore for it’s own sake, which is refreshing. Not to say it is not fast – it is. Check this band out, they are actually worth watching.

– Melanie

Arius/Master
The Whit’s End; Toledo, OH; Aug. 14, 1998

Why is it, every time I drive out of town for a show, the show ends up much better than the local fare, and it’s usually cheaper? This show was phenomenal. Sound was good, crowd was very into the music, all the bands were appreciated, the set times were adequate <35 min at least per band>, and there was even a riot! It was 2 and a half hours in the car, driving to the show, but worth the trip.

The mosh pit was too violent for tripod-based filming, so basically I stood, thrashed, and watched.

Reflections of Death opened the night with some good, midtempo/fast death metal. The new material sounded excellent.. the lineup changes within the band have obviously been for the better.. I doubt they needed to call themselves ‘the warmup act’, for the band is good enough to stand alone, not be just a warmup act. (“opening opening”, we call it.) Nice progression!

Then the crowd poured in, and Arius took the stage.. and frenzied the crowd.. They unleashed several demons with their new material, and as usual, enraptured the crowd with old favorites such as “Eviscerate” and the closer, “The Last Suffer”.. This is what happns when you take musicial brilliance, mix it with pent up agression, and put these people onstage. It’s a very good thing. Definetly a band worth watching, as in success, as well as future shows, in the future. The best band of the evening, hands down.

Then there was the riot; they shut down the bar and told Master to go to Cleveland (i.e. they could not play that night).. highlights: 40 angry longhaired guys screaming an swinging at one another, a guy swinging half a railroad timber, the flying beer bottles and shattering glass in the street, and the tales of “I slammed his head into the ground, and then someone swung at me..” Ah, testosterone. Gotta love it.

Then the club reneged on closing the bar as the Toledo police showed up and barricaded in the parking lot. This allowed band setup to continue. Half the crowd left <possibly to nurse wounds sustained in the riot> but the half that stayed, enjoyed a good set from these seasoned death metal genre-co-founders.

I think we went to bed at 4 am. Worth the late night, the drive, and the risk <riot>!

– Melanie

Cleveland, Arius/Master
Phantasy Niteclub; Lakewood, OH; Aug. 15, 1998

No riot here.. some bleeding, and good sound, but not one third the excitement of the previous night. Set order sucked, but a decent show nonetheless.

Arius played their first show in Cleveland in three years. Why did they have to be the warmup act? (“opening opening”) For two bands that haven’t even stable lineups? *sigh* The mind boggles. Anyway.. They drove 2 and a half hours, to play for 50 people. At least the 50 that were there got to appreciate the musicianship, and sheer brutality of the band. Their new material shredded the ears of the listeners and reinforced the reasoning behind them being a signed act. Their old material ruled, as usual.

The only thing to note about Blood Coven is that Dave dyed his hair black, and bled *all over the place*.. it ended up all over his face and arms.. He even walked around after the set still bloody.. second bloodiest I have ever seen him.. Trey Azagthoth revisited.. photos will be here soon..

We only caught 10 captivating minutes of Somnus. I heard “Within” and “Beyond the Shores”, was impressed by the clarity of tone, number of people watching them, and the overall stage effect, and then returned to the land of night sky and breezes (we went outside)..

OK, so I left before Master or Sanctorum. I had a hard drive to format. *shrug*

– Melanie
Michigan International Metalfest 7
JD Macomb’s Theatre, Mt. Clemens, MI; 8/29/98

Friday – Deeds of Flesh cancelled as usual, and also we missed it .. We were driving up to Detroit, through heavy rain and heavy fog, blasting Gutted and Celtic Frost.. apparently we didn’t miss much at this show ..

Cancelled – Saturday :

first two bands, and Arius.. *dang*

Performed :

Disinter
Nile
Obliveon
Lucifer’s Hammer
Gorguts
November’s Doom
Cryptopsy
Epoch of Unlight
Enter Self
Avernus
Darkmoon
Harm’s Way <Fri.>
Blood Coven <Fri.>
Somnus
Divine Empire (Jason from Malevolent Creation’s new band)
and more… (I will have to get the set list if anyone wants to see the
complete listing)

Highlights – Saturday :

Somnus

New material sounded excellent in this 50,000 watt venue. Same with the old material. Good performance. Glad I got to see them play so well, again, in this venue.

Lucifer’s Hammer

A band that has been doing this style of doom-black-death metal for near a decade with very little of the acclaim they deserve. Excellent, very enjoyable, decent to watch, and worthy of anyone’s atention. They get no acclaim.  under-rated solely due to lack of self-advertising.

November’s Doom

This was the first time I had heard or seen the band. I was impressed. I made the mistake of telling someone “they sounded a little like Somnus”, and was abruptly told “no, Somnus sounds like _them_” – because apparently, like Lucifer’s Hammer, this band has been purveying their style of doom “since 1989”.

Disinter

Ah, mid-tempo to fast death metal I can thrash to, and watch. Very well done. Excellent performance, even from where I watched and filmed – the second floor balcony. Watch this city – Chicago seems to have some of the best bands coming from it at this time.

Nile

I think the crowd was present simply to see Nile (and Cryptopsy). Everyone packed up to the front of the stage when Nile began. Violent mosh pits broke out to what was basically, a flawless set. Good sound, good stage presence, and the usual aural barrage, Nile style. If you missed it, we feel sorry for you.

Cryptopsy

I mention them simply because it seems so many people were there to see them. They were basically standard speedy death metal. They headlined, meaning they played at about 1 am, to our tired ears. I guess they were good.. but there was more original material present at the show.

Christian Street Festival

It was cool to be walking around amongst the families and churchgoers, while we were wearing all black and looking mean.. we got stared at.. that was fun. It’s always good to terrorize the natives.

Afterparty

At the Super 8 Motel. After making an illegal U-Turn at about 40 mph in my land yacht, and following some people there.. we were ready for the rest of the evening. Much merriment was made, and sleeping on the bare floor of the hotel room seemed a good option. That is, if sleep could be attained.

All in all, the International Metalfest 7 was a very good one. As usual, MetalMom has done an excellent job. She said this was her last fest, due to financial losses despite excellent advertising, so.. if you missed her fests, we feel truly sorry for you. An age has passed.

– Melanie

Music Macabre 1998 – Halloween
Phantasy Niteclub, Lakewood, OH

Highlights :

Devour – good death metal from Geneva, OH. On the slower “Swedish” side.  Refreshing in this age of blastbeats.  Sanctorum – Duane breathing fire, well-executed material. Lots of atmosphere.  Blood Coven – New material *gasp* <what a concept!> “Nightshade – the Dying of the Light” (I think that’s the title?) plus a Motorhead cover.. “damn, this is my favorite song!” said Alex the fan.. and all this without a bassist..
Thorns of the Carrion – as good as Duane promised me they would be a year ago; atmospheric doom/black metal. Impressive six-peice crammed on that little stage. Get the CD, ye shall not regret it.
Mortimer Dipthong – good black metal from Tennessee. All the usual black metal extras: spikes, low light, the smog machine, banshee howling.. a must see.
Somnus – Lou breathing fire, the band decked out in corpsepaint (normally a bane, but this was Halloween! “We wanted to do something different”, said Scott.), eerie candelabras glowing, dry ice covering their feet as they played several older songs and a cover of “Seasons in the Abyss” by Slayer..

Gripe: too much filler. They had to drop Arius because a metalcore band in the beginning played too long. (amongst other things) I guess due to rather poor scheduling? Do *not* drive three hours or more, with equipment, to be told you cannot play! *uncool*

– Melanie

Death with Midevil and Hammerfall
November 22, 1998
Peabody’s Downunder – Cleveland, Ohio

I can’t even count the years on 2 hands that I’ve been listening to this band! Way back in junior high I used to sit in class in utter boredom and doodle Death on my notebooks. So, needless to say, I was very excited to learn they were touring to support their newest effort, ‘The Sound of Perserverence’ (Nuclear Blast).  Obviously many other people shared my sentiments as well, because as soon as I walked in I saw that the venue was packed – an unbelievably large turnout, especially for a Sunday night.

We arrived late to the show, and missed the regional opening act Midevil, so I’m sorry to say I can’t review their performance. Hopefully we’ll be able to catch them soon at another show.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hammerfall (Sweden- Nuclear Blast).  Believe it or not, I’d never heard them before, and I hadn’t heard much about them either. They came out onstage giving 100% energy and putting their all into the live show. It was easy to see these guys love what they do, and love to perform live. They played for about 45 minutes, and came out to play a one song encore. If you like bands along the lines of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, check these guys out (Say hello to them at the show also, they seemed like very nice guys)…

Death took stage in a blaze of glory and technical difficulties. They emerged to the theme song from Halloween, and the crowd roared with anticipation for them to begin playing. Despite the technical difficulties through the first few songs, they managed to kick everyone’s ass, and blow me away. I was impressed… These guys are very tight, and played a very technically proficient show. Chuck said he’s been playing in the scene since he was 18, and it’s easy to tell by how well he plays that he’s more than seasoned as a musician. They played for well over an hour, both oldies
but goodies, and new ones off of their latest. Towards the end of their set the drummer, Richard, had everyone in awe by playing a very impressive drum solo. To put a proper end to the excellent show, they played for the encore what everyone was begging (and growling) to hear the whole night – Pull The Plug.

Even though I’m a zombie today at work, I must say that I don’t regret one bit losing sleep to see these guys play. The show was worth every dollar, and I’d go see them again. If they come to a neighborhood near you, be sure to get out to the show, check these guys out and support the scene!

-Jo

Rioux | Sanctorum | Lucifers Hammer | Somnus
Phantasy Niteclub, Cleveland OH; Dec. 5, 1998

Rioux – Some local “Gothic” band. Nothing like The Cure, or whoever else is considered to be “goth” these days. I guess they were okay for a goth band. I have virtually no experience with this genre (and would rather care to leave it that way) so I will allow the fans that were present, who have knowledge of how “goth” should sound, decide their quality.

Sanctorum – I have seen them four times now, and I still cannot decide what to call them in reviews. “Iron Maiden meets Dimmu Borgir” might get me in trouble but seems accurate at the moment. The musicianship of the band is top-notch. Sanctorum seems to be on a lot of Cleveland OH bills these days, so if you fins yourself in the area, check them out.

Lucifers Hammer – Excellent as usual. Very well-orchestrated, technical, intelligent black/doom metal from Michigan. Eight songs to grip the audience and envelop them in a rich musical tapestry. It was nice to see this band in Cleveland for once.

Somnus – As expected, Somnus delivered a set of abrasive, melodic, well-composed dark metal. Quite pleasing to the ear and the eye. (If I recall there was a lack of smog – maybe the smog machine was broken?) I do not recall any super new “we just wrote this yesterday” material being played. (if you know the band, this is almost a joke, for they are
very prolific writers at times. When they choose to play a song for an audience, it is usually practiced to a degree most other bands would not even consider; thus the quality of their live sound never suffers, and they don’t appear sloppy.) A treat, as usual.

Deicide | Odious Sanction | Devour
December 6, 1998
Peabody’s Downunder- Cleveland, Ohio

Devour – These guys were kind enough to be the replacements for Boulder Brain, who weren’t playing the show afterall for whatever reason. Melanie told me they were going to be good, so I had my expectations set. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed. I’m wondering why these guys don’t play more shows. Although the turnout wasn’t packing the venue shoulder to shoulder (Are there excuses… Could it have been the fact that it was a Sunday?  Could it have been Kiss playing at the Gund Arena just a few blocks away?  We’ll never know for sure… ), Devour got the crowd that was there ready and raging for Deicide.

In all honesty I didn’t catch much of Odious Sanction (we were interviewing Glen/Deicide), but I’ve seen them enough times before to know that they’re one of the better bands in the area (in my opinion anyway). They’ve been around for a while, and are coming out with a new release very soon. I’m always happy to see when these guys are playing on a bill, they truly add a level of brutality and energy to every show they play. It’s no mystery why they’ve been on the scene for the length of time that they have.

“Don’t blink, or you’ll miss the set” was what we were warned first thing by Glen. “I’m tired and I hate this club”. *blink* Okay, so it wasn’t that short… Deicide came out, and kicked everyone’s ass in 45 minutes. Yeah, that’s a short set by most standards- but the quality of the set made up for it. My neck is sore today just from thrashing to Once Upon a Cross alone! The sound quality was great (even though I hear the bands can’t hear themselves when they play on stage there). Glen’s got a lot of versatility with his vocals, going from the deeper growls to the higher screams. Not one technical difficulty the whole time, not one complaint from me.

The final word- If you haven’t seen Deicide, go. If you’ve seen them, go.  This will be their last tour for almost 2 years, and these guys are good live. Don’t be discouraged by the short length of their set here-on the way out we were told by one of the guys that was with them that we caught them on the worst night of the tour (no sleep, coming off a long road trip and going on another long one to NJ, and they hated the venue.) If that was them at their worst, sometimes the worst isn’t all that bad!

-Jo
Morbid Angel | Nile | Bible Belt Byproduct
Ground Zero; Spartanburg, SC
Tuesday, December 22, 1998

After driving 4 hours we arrived at Ground Zero after the final performance of the Morbid Angel / NILE tour had already began. I missed most of the opening set from Bible Belt Byproduct so I can’t really give their show an objective review. The pending ice storm and holidays apparently did little to dampen the attendance of this much anticipated coupling of metal titans.

NILE –  South Carolina natives NILE take the stage to exhume pharoahs long forgotten and entomb the inhabitance with their signature brand of Egyptian war metal. This was my first taste of NILE in a live setting although I have followed them since their first demo release. What can be said of quintet that has not already been said? NILE delivers an intense performance and very tight sound which virtually indestinquishable from the CD.. Commendable musicianship on the part of Chief (Bass/vocs.), Karl (guitar/vocs.), and Dallas (guitar/vocs.), who pull off 3-part, string harmonies while maintaining a multi-vocal attack to send the meager home in neck braces. I know I was not the only one in the audience speculating whether Pete Hamoura could pull off the enfrenzied, drum mastering heard on “Amonst the Catacombs of Nephran Ka” Live.. Well, in case anyone has a shread of doubt, this dude pulls off foot-work live that will leave you standing mouth agape! NILE closed their set to an all approving sea of horns-up as the transient sounds of Lisa Gerrard enveloped the venue.

Morbid Angel – opened their set, complete with satyrical stockings, garland and christmas lights to replace the pentagram usually found on Pete’s drum rack (showing death metal musicians can have a sense of humour). The somber tones “Chamber of Diss” opened the set as an anxious crowd lurched to life. Once again new front man Steve Tucker delivers a performance to humble the best of bassists and reiterate that the rather large shoes left by Vincent are more than filled (even as he howled into mic stand equiped with candy cane). Instead of “Formulas Fatal to the Flesh” the newest release should have been titled “All Voids Filled With Steve.” As I have said in previous show reviews, this dude brings a whole new rawness and aggression to the project. Not to down-play the already notorious musicianship of Trey Azagthoth and Eric Rutan who spewed forth the ferocious string-work and dissonant solos that have become a Morbid Angel trademark. Pete Sandoval roared through the set with machine-like abilities that would put any metronome to shame. Even a rare perfomance of a couple of tracks off of “Domination” were thrown in the mix.  The crowd whipped into frenzied approval at the first few notes of “Dawn of the Angry” (which was omitted from the summer tour set) and the pit found its summit within the brutal melodies of “Rapture” as pits of flailing bodies erupted throughout the floor. Morbid Angel left the stage but was denied their exodus by a crowd intent on more, which they gladly delivered with furious intent.

– Scot

Withered Soul | Hate Theory | Devour | Blood Coven
Bottom Line Saloon, Cleveland OH; Dec. 26, 1998

Withered Soul – As my friend Kris put it – “nice baby steps for an embryonic death metal band”. What he meant was, they sounded like they were just starting out, and making a good effort to not suck. The talent awards go to the keyboardist and the male singer. (I resist using such descrptive phrases as “long black haired singer that sounded like Ola from Grave”, and “keyboardist wearing the normal highschool sweater”) They were ‘okay’. Dark black-doom-goth metallish stuff.

Hate Theory – Metalcore- influenced, with a very heavy/dark (almost deathmetal) edge. Not the usual screaming, hateful (boring) stuff I see in metalcore bands. Polished, angry, high energy metal. Definetly worth seeing again.

Devour – The night begins! Devour, from Geneva OH, swept onto the stage and immediately began browbeating the fans with evil black/death metal. Highlights – all of the singer/basssit Fred’s intros (he’s hilarious), “Daos En Absentia” (‘In the Absence of God’, in Latin!), and “Rapture”. Fans into this genre, must check out Devour.

Blood Coven – Hey, it was their CD release party. Finally, after 2 1/2 years! What am I supposed to say, they sucked? They didn’t suck. As a matter of fact, they sounded better without a bassist. (second show in a row I have seen them sound this way.) Highlights would include anything I haven’t heard in a while – “The Final Silencing”, “God Syndrome”,  Mayhem’s “Freezing Moon”, and the solos by Dave for their soundcheck. (which he did not perform for the regular set.. so you had to be there for the soundcheck to watch that.) Neck-breaking excitement, as usual. Expect no less.

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