Saturday, September 1, 2012

Kataklysm, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Vital Remains, Rose Funeral, others - 8/31/12 at Empire, Springfield, VA

Before this show, I had heard just enough of Kataklysm and Fleshgod Apocalypse to know that I'd probably enjoy seeing them - they're both fast-paced death metal bands with melodic elements. I got hooked on Fleshgod Apocalypse during the week before the show and listened to them over and over on Youtube - their masterful combination of classical keyboard with brutal riffs and vocals was irresistible. I was pretty excited to see them by the time the show came around.

Joining them on the Iron Will tour were Rose Funeral, a deathcore band from Cincinatti, and Vital Remains,a long-standing death metal band from Rhode Island. When we arrived at Empire, Rose Funeral was just starting their last song. They were skullcrushingly loud and heavy even from the back of the room, with a hammering bass. There were about twenty people on the floor, fairly enthusiastic fans it seemed - during the breakdown, people started jumping around and 4 to 6 people were having a small pit. I thought to myself, if the opener is this loud from the merch area, how am I going to survive the headliners?

Vital Remains was also loud, but in contrast to Rose Funeral's hammering sound, their sound had a rumbling or rolling feel to it - a sound that made you want to move, bang your head, or perhaps run into the pit (although I didn't, for whatever reason). They referred to themselves as "old school death metal" and urged us to "keep it underground!" The singer called for a Wall of Death for the song "Hammer Down the Nails," and the ensuing pit took up almost the whole floor (we were still hanging out on the railing near the merch area; I was tempted to go take part in the wall of death but the number of bulky guys was a little intimidating). The singer also jumped down into the crowd a couple times to direct the pit, and crowd surfed at one point - very involved with the crowd and determined to make sure they were enjoying it to the max. I enjoyed their set (from my vantage point headbanging at the side) but didn't find them really remarkable. I think I may be too spoiled by melodic death metal to fully appreciate regular death metal.

Or perhaps I was just too busy looking forward to Fleshgod Apocalypse's amazing melodic and brutal sound. They're a technical death metal band from Italy, with a lot of symphonic and classical elements in their music, especially classical keyboards. That's what drew me to them when I first heard them - the combination of brutal riffs and vocals with the ethereal piano/keyboard floating over it. Unfortunately, their first song didn't sound great - the vocals and keyboard were totally drowned out. The rest of the songs sounded better, though - I'm not sure if it was because I moved to the center of the floor (to run around in the pit) or they changed the mix. Going along with their symphonic and slightly gothic edge, the band came out in tuxedos and some sort of gray or brown face paint (if I had realized they were going to wear face paint, I would have worn face paint!). Overall, their tempo was slower than the bands before them, but they did play some fast songs. They were not as loud, either, but still very heavy, with sweeping melodies and melancholy riffs. The crowd (including myself) really enjoyed them; there was a pit for every song, even the slower ones, and people waving fists and singing along at the front.

After Fleshgod Apocalypse, I felt exhausted and didn't know if I could fully bring it for Kataklysm. But once they came on stage, I got my energy back. They're a death metal band from Canada, with epic and melodic riffs, a little reminiscent of Amon Amarth's sound. Their sound was thunderous - heavy, loud and very headbangable. The bass was slamming, especially early in the set. Unfortunately, the floor seemed rather empty - only about half filled up, and there was hardly any moshing. I ran to the pit whenever it appeared, to do my part, but it usually lasted just 30 seconds or so. There was a solid group of headbangers near the stage, though, and most of the time I just stood and headbanged, too, since the riffs were so epic. They played a sort of short set and didn't play an encore - perhaps Empire has tightened its curfew? The band did say they would drink at the bar, but we were too tired to stick around.

All of the bands in the show gave a solid performance, and I enjoyed the whole evening. No matter what kind of death metal you're into, from melodic to brutal, this is a good way to spend an evening.

Photos from concert (by Steve Wass)

Next show: Not sure what I'll be able to make. Icon of Coil, Primordial, Kamelot w/ A Sound of Thunder and Korpiklaani w/ Moonsorrow and Tyr are on my wishlist for September.

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