Monday, June 11, 2012

Living it up at Death Fest

Chris Barnes of Six Feet Under

Worcester Death Fest 2012 brought together both the architects and the acolytes of death metal for a 10-hour marathon of fat-necked basses, skinny-necked guitars,  double-bass drums, shredded vocals and gore June 10 at The Palladium.


Matt Desmond, above, and Mykel Raymond of Conforza

While not the sort of blowout that occurs at the annual New England Metal and Hardcore Festival, Death Fest was impressive on many levels. First, it was pure in design. Nothin’ but death _ though it did shed a light on the degrees of death. Second, it had Six Feet Under, Suffocation, and Dying Fetus under one roof _ SFU (and original Cannibal Corpse) singer Chris Barnes, Dying Fetus’ John Gallagher, and Suffocation’s Frank Mullen and Terrance Hobbs set up a lot of death-metal’s design back in the late ’80s and early ’90s and still push the boundaries of the genre. And lastly it spoke volumes about the region’s extreme music scene that more than 20 bands from Massachusetts and neighboring New England states could flesh out this bill into a real festival, and by “real” meaning the under-card acts were solid, well-honed bands, not desperate kids looking for a gig.

Like the NEMHF, Death Fest used both stages in The Palladium. Necronomichrist played a stand-out set in the smaller, upstairs room. With sinister keyboard fills punctuating its sound, the band brought some progressive edge to its death attack. Necronomichrist nicely balanced epic sweep and scrappy head banging.
Under a Serpent Sun also had a prog flourish to its extreme sound, thanks largely to Dylan Helm’s guitar solos. The Atlas Collapse let the groove carry its sound and worked the crowd with the passion and fury of a hardcore band. Pathogenic closed the second stage with a blast of aggressive grind that moved with a relentless chug.

The Atlas Collapse


Under a Serpent Sun

 A bunch of the regional bands also played on the main stage before the touring acts took over. Conforza was a local that looked ready to hop on a tour bus any minute. The band was both intricate and furious, with singer Mykel Raymond roaming the stage like a lunatic and bassist Matt Desmond plucking neck-snapping riffs as the rest of the band set up dynamic shifts and turns.
New Hampshire-reared Vattnet Viskar and New Jersey’s Fit for an Autopsy were two up-and-coming bands showcased on the main stage. Vattnet Viskar layered ambient drones and tones across its the tightly coiled heavier parts of the songs. Fit for an Autopsy went more for explosive, raw energy.
Dave Davidson fired up Revocation’s set with his typically fierce guitar work. Revocation twisted up speedy thrash and technically challenging arrangements in a manner that set its extreme sound apart from the heavy dirge of other bands on the bill. Davidson and crew had fun with the genre’s wretched excess, especially when describing “Conjuring the Cataclysm” as a song about hot chick demons doing pleasantly filthy things.



Dying Fetus

Dying Fetus
Dying Fetus has never been known for its humor and the band kept it that way through a set of sheer brutality. The trio reached back for vintage death cuts such as “Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog,” mixing them in with songs from the album “Reign Supreme,” due out June 19.
Frank Mullen of Suffocation

Derek Boyer of Suffocation

Terrance Hobbs of Suffocation
 Suffocation followed, and while not as darkly brooding as the bands it played in between (the severely dark and heavily brooding Six Feet Under closed the fest), it still offered plenty of menace amid Mullen’s friendly, crazed banter.  “Abomination Reborn” took Suffocation into death’s horror camp, but for the most part the band used music to punch its way out of life’s crippling hypocrisies.

All of the above, Six Feet Under doing its thing
In the case of Six Feet Under, this band stakes death metal’s claim as music for outsiders who have no interest in being on the inside. If singer Barnes has a slogan, it’s probably “Stay the fuck away.”  At this now for 25 years, Barnes can still get to the guttural grunts and groans without losing the sharp edge of his disturbing lyrics. Wearing a “Face Eater” T in honor of recent headlines out of Florida, Barnes was scary and scabby, but compelling nonetheless as he unfurled  blood-stained numbers from Six Feet Under’s latest, “Undead” and reached back for Cannibal Corpse classics “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled” and “Hammer Smashed Face.”

All photos by Sam McLennan

No comments:

Post a Comment