Suffocation / Cryptopsy / Despised Icon / Aborted
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
The Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, BC Canada
**Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland
To quote Queensryche, this bill was bound to be heavier than a two-ton…heavy thing. New York’s Suffocation made their first-ever visit to Vancouver and Belgium’s Aborted came all the way over from Europe as well to join Canadian counterparts Cryptopsy and Despised Icon on what was sure to be one of the heaviest and most brutal tours of the year.
Before things got underway at The Commodore Ballroom, Cryptopsy were guests at Scrape Records for an in-store fan meet & greet that drew a meagre 30 or so people. While these things are nothing new for Scrape, the big draw was the worm-eating contest, whose winner went home with a full Cryptopsy CD library, as well as a $100 Scrape gift certificate. Only a few of the fans went through with the worm-feast but Scraper owner/worm bartender, J.J. Caithcart, was grinning with sadistic delight as the few brave souls threw back shot after shot of the maggot-like mealworms. Of all the band members present, only vocalist Lord Worm took part in the competition and being an old pro at worm consumption, he showed the kids just how it was done by not only drinking full shots of mealworms but also stuffing them up his nose (see above photo). Tard vocalist, Timmy, vowed to win at all costs and after downing several shots of worms, he decided to one-up everyone by SNORTING two “lines” of worms! Cryptopsy, along with most of us in attendance, were simultaneously impressed and sickened by his dedication, but when Timmy revealed that he was playing for his friend, “Hotwheels,” who was in a Lethbridge hospital, a loud whoop of applause and cheers awarded him the victor. Lord Worm’s impromptu death metal vocal lesson was interesting but most of the band remained quiet and reserved. Lord Worm requested a dozen earthworms to eat and share with fans on stage at the show (a long-standing tradition for the singer) but, sadly, it never panned out. Still, the Scrape shindig was, well, “unique,” and meeting the band and getting autographs was definitely a highlight.
Death/gore-grind vets, Aborted, is one of those bands I never imagined I would get to see live, but their short, half-hour set drew from each of their four albums and they delivered an energetic, well-received dose of blood-drenched carnage. On their last two albums, Aborted have softened their sound somewhat and moved away from tracks like “Nailed Through Her Cunt” and “Skullfuck Crescendo” found on their first two releases. The Carcass-worship had run its course and the band wisely expanded their sound and subject matter from 1999’s THE PURITY OF PERVERSION and 2001’s ENGINEERING THE DEAD. Vocalist Sven DeCaluwe (who pulls double-duty with grinders Leng Tch’e) is a non-stop swirl of hair and headbanging, belching out the most gruesome of lyrics. Bassist Frederic, sporting a killer tattooed upper body suit and the blastbeat-infused mayhem coming from Gilles Delacroix on the drums is absolutely punishing, especially on the breakdowns that Aborted pepper their later material with. Guitarist Stephane Soutereyand (also in the brilliant French band, Yyrkoon) infuses tracks like “Dead Wreckoning” and “Gestated Rabidity” from this year’s THE ARCHAIC ABBATOIR with lightning-fast solos done with tight precision. Aborted’s live set focused mainly on THE ARCHAIC ABBATOIR and 2003’s GOREMAGEDDON: THE SAW AND THE DAMAGE DONE releases although hearing the band tear through “The Sanctification of Fornication” from THE PURITY OF PERVERSION was a real surprise. Overall, Aborted can hold their heads high knowing that they left a collective bruise on Vancouver, leaving many fans eager for their return.
Blood Fixing The Bled
The Saw and The Carnage Done
Sanguine Verses (…of Extirpation)
The Gangrenous Epitaph
The Sanctification of Fornication
The billing of Despised Icon over Aborted surprised many people, including myself, but seeing this Canadian “death-core” band for the third time in six months was hardly a chore. Their brilliant new CD, THE HEALING PROCESS, is guaranteed to be in my Top 5 for the year and despite some technical problems, the band was out for blood. Vocalist Alex Erian never stops moving on stage, stalking the crowd from left to right like a hunter looking for prey (and making him next to impossible to photograph!!!), but his mike kept cutting out during “Silver Plated Advocate,” eventually forcing him to share one with second vocalist, Steve Marois. The half dozen moshers got right into the band’s tight, half-hour set and the crowd seemed to give them a better reception overall than when they were on the Deicide tour in June (read review here). Despised Icon just keeps getting better and better and the drumming of Alex Pelletier is mind-blowing. With dual vocalists and the guitar team of Eric Jarrin and Yannick St-Amand, tracks like “The Sunset Will Never Charm Us” are delivered with crushing energy and that track’s vicious breakdown got the pit moving quickly. “Compel To Copulate,” taken from the band’s 2002 debut, CONSUMED BY YOUR POISON, is million-mile-an-hour grind and the sound was a bit muddy to catch all the nuances of it live, but the tracks from THE HEALING PROCESS were spot-on with the studio versions. Erian’s rubbery body and funny “stage faces” are just an added bonus to the live show!
DESPISED ICON SETLIST
Compel To Copulate
The Sunset Will Never Charm Us
One Last Martini (But You’ll Never Notice)
Silver Plated Advocate
What I immediately noticed about the setup for Cryptopsy was that it took FIVE roadies to get Flo Mournier’s gargantuan drum kit in place! The number of cymbals alone could be melted down and turned into a functioning Sherman tank!! Mournier delighted the crowd by warming up on stage with quick blasts and thunderous kicks as a precursor of what to expect from one of metal drumming’s most elite members. Besides Mournier’s regal presence, original vocalist, Lord Worm, is back in the fold after an eight-year absence and though it need not even be stated, he is the definitive vocalist for this band. His replacement, Mike DiSalvo, helped steer the band in a different direction but on their latest slab of unforgiving death metal, ONCE WAS NOT, Lord Worm is perched high atop his throne. Looking every bit the sinister character, Worm has not really changed much from the early days. His vocals are a bit less intense, but at the same time, more diverse. He still delivers every blood-curdling scream and gut-wrenching growl with the same ferocity as before but the new tracks—and the three played from DiSalvo’s tenure—require a little more…chutzpah. The best example of Lord Worm’s obvious presence was found on “Cold Hate, Warm Blood,” a song he wrote but was sung by DiSalvo on 1998’s WHISPER SUPREMACY. This song was finally heard the way it was meant to be heard—with Lord Worm on vocals!! His cryptic stage banter mentioned that “Adeste Infidelis” “started out as a Christmas carol, then I got to it” and in a nifty inside joke referring back to the band’s first album that many people missed, went on to say the track is “not quite Open Face Surgery but it will do.” Cryptopsy’s well-thought-out fifty-minute set showcased two or three songs from each release and the tracks from BLASPHEMY MADE FLESH and NONE SO VILE were like a walk down memory lane. “Mutant Christ,” “Benedictine Convulsions” and “Phobophile” absolutely slayed, showing that eleven years in, this band can still go the distance. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the three tracks played from ONCE WAS NOT definitely stood their ground amongst the band’s older material. “Carrionshine” and “Adeste Infidelis” definitely hold their own against the slaughtering brutality of “Abigor.” Eric Langlois’ five-string bass was sadly missing from the live mix, so some of the noodling was unfortunately lost to my ears, at least. With Jon Levasseur out of the band, Alex Auburn moved over to lead guitar and a second live guitarist was enlisted to handle the rhythms. Chris Donaldson did a respectable job but he could not help but be overshadowed by Auburn’s spot-on solos and jazzy riffing. Cryptopsy is back and it seems like eight years never even passed!
The Frantic Pace of Dying
Cold Hate, Warm Blood
Now many will disagree with me here, but in my opinion, Cryptopsy should have been headlining—or at least co-headlining—with Suffocation. Granted, Suffocation only played ten minutes longer than Cryptopsy but it seemed that many fans (myself included) were on hand more for Cryptopsy than for Suffocation. Suffocation is just one of those bands who I never got into. Not that I dislike them; it’s more just a lack of familiarity. Because of this, I really didn’t enjoy Suffocation’s set. Most of the songs seemed to bleed together and many sound exactly the same. Along with Immolation—a far superior band—Suffocation have spent the last two decades plying their brand of guttural, brutal, old school New Yawk death metal to a rabid cult audience. Their latest, SOULS TO DENY, and 1995’s PIERCED FROM WITHIN, are really my only exposure to this band and again, it’s not for a lack of want. They just never hit the top of my “must have” priority list when browsing the metal CD section. I know EFFIGY OF THE FORGOTTEN is the “be all end all” CD in many people’s eyes and one day, I just may take the plunge and pick it up, but until then, Suffocation leaves me underwhelmed. Their live set was incredibly varied and in the course of an hour, they played a whopping thirteen tracks covering every release. This being the band’s first time in Vancouver, vocalist Frank Mullen seemed genuinely pleased with the size and energy of the crowd. His hardcore-influenced roar and kooky hand gestures during Mike Smith’s intense blastbeats made him a rather one-note frontman. Smith’s blazingly fast skills behind the kit are impressive but following Flo Mournier, there was just no chance to be dazzled. Lead guitarist, Terrence Hobbs, shreds like a maniac and his sizzling guitarwork—“Liege of Inveracity” was most impressive—is the most noteworthy piece of the Suffocation puzzle. Ex-Vital Remains bassist, Derek Boyer, has taken over on the four-string and his on-stage energy really fuels the band. Mullen’s tough-guy posturing left a bad taste in my mouth and made me wonder if his downtime was spent studying the moves of legendary NYC hardcore bands like Agnostic Front and Madball. Mullen did mention that a new Suffocation CD would arrive in 2006 and that they would be back in Vancouver, so when that time comes, I will be back to take my lumps from the Suffocation army and hopefully be left with a better impression of this renowned band.
Souls To Deny
Thrones of Blood
Infecting The Crypts
Liege of Inveracity
Breeding The Spawn
Tomes of Acrimony
Effigy of The Forgotten
Pierced From Within
Prelude To Repulsion
Devoid of Truth
Kids these days do love the death metal and the 300 or so fans that turned out for this show left looking sweaty, beat up and wholly satisfied. Only the Deicide/Immolation/Skinless/Despised Icon/With Passion show from this past June (read review here) could compete with the “most bang for your buck” factor that a show like this brings. Hopefully the fans continue to support these big package tours because—like them or not—it is very cool to have the opportunity to see bands like Suffocation, Deicide, Skinless and Immolation finally coming our way.
Thanks to Jamie at House of Blues Canada for the press pass and to Heather & George at Century Media Records and Betsey at Relapse Records for photo approval.
Suffocation’s official site
Cryptopsy’s official site
Despised Icon’s official site
Aborted’s official site