Dying Fetus In Dublin: Live Review

By on 24 November 2014
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(Photo: Fran Geoghegan)

Last week saw the mighty Dying Fetus return to Dublin, in order to lay waste to The Voodoo Lounge alongside Goatwhore, Malevolence and Fallujah. Our very own Dean Brown braved the pit, and here’s what he thought…

DYING FETUS
+ GOATWHORE, MALEVOLENCE & FALLUJAH

THE VOODOO LOUNGE, DUBLIN
NOVEMBER 20th

One of the few positives to come out of the throat-slitting global financial crisis as far as live metal in Europe is concerned is how tour packages seem to have more variety these days to entice a broader spectrum of metal fans to turn up. Thankfully, the days of four death metal bands grunting and blasting their way through indistinguishable sets seems to be resigned to the past, and now Europe appears to be following its American counterparts in booking tours comprised of bands with different styles that complement each other without being too far outside of the headliner’s wheelhouse.

Tonight’s show at Dublin’s The Voodoo Lounge is another fine example of shrewd booking, as you get Dying Fetus’s pioneering death-slam, Goatwhore’s black-thrash battery, Malevolence’s youthful pillaging of different subgenres and Fallujah’s progressive death metal, all for the measly price of €25.00. Judging by the increased attendance and the encouraging sight of plenty of younger metal fans here, this approach appears to be working well. It’s also highly beneficial to the bands themselves in terms of getting their music out to folks who may not have heard of them, and in turn selling merchandise (which, in all reality, is a band’s main source of income). So it’s encouraging to see Fallujah play to a sizeable crowd given the early start and the fog that’s descended on Dublin this evening and made travelling to the venue treacherous.

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Fallujah (Photo: Fran Geoghegan)

On Fallujah’s new album ‘The Flesh Prevails’, the San Francisco band display an impressive songwriting development, merging the fluid musicianship of death metal’s more experimental acts – Cynic, Death and Atheist all come to mind – with the brutality of deathcore at its most dexterous. But because of a dense, everything-in-the-red production, the details and dynamics of their music are lost on their latest effort. Live however, their music is a different proposition. Fallujah’s teeth-rattling tech-death riffs and melodic jazz-fusion passages interspersed with atypical breakdowns have extra dimensions in a live setting, and the movement of each song means the crowd are not just drilled with endless blastbeats. Frontman Alex Hofmann grips his mic with intent and the deep roars he emits come straight from the gut, which is surprising as his brutal voice doesn’t match his stature or boyish looks. The rest of the band focus on nailing their parts while keeping an eye on performance; the elegant solo work of lead guitarist Scott Carstairs, in particular, marks him out as one of metal’s most promising players.

Malevolence  (Photo: Fran Geoghegan)

Malevolence (Photo: Fran Geoghegan)

Malevolence bring the technicality back down to earth, stomping through songs that jolt from Only Living Witness hardcore sludge to less impressive death metal trudge, often lacking cohesion between these styles and the blasts of thrash that turn up. The young band have been causing a stir in Britain because of their rowdy live show, and they’ve plenty of Irish admirers head-banging on cue to each breakdown; of which there are many, none of which interested in originality beyond the time-tested beat-downs of Hatebreed and Sick Of It All. That’s not to say the band are bad; where their songs sound tedious through headphones, live they have plenty of merit for those looking to bang their heads and run in circles on command. In effect, Malevolence’s music is kind of like a gluttonous feed of greasy fast food: it seems like a good idea when it’s going down but you feel guilty for enjoying it afterwards.

Goatwhore

Goatwhore (Photo: Fran Geoghegan)

“I’d like to see fists in the air like it’s a Priest concert in 1984,” bellows Goatwhore’s statuesque singer Ben Falgoust, late in their set, just before the Louisiana four-piece bring their sweaty set to a devilish finish with the whiplash-inducing ‘Apocalyptic Havok’. Even though Goatwhore take their music deadly serious, live, there’s a forked tongue planted firmly in cheek, recalling Venom in their heyday. Falgoust is the clear visual focal point when Goatwhore play. With ex-Acid Bath six-stringer Sammy Duet to his left and bassist James Harvey to his right, both locked in with the powerful double-bass drumming of Zack Simmons, Falgoust stalks the stage like some hell-bound thespian: all contorted hand movements and hilarious air-guitar moves in between screaming wide-eyed in his high-to-low register. The pits continue to bubble over from Malevolence’s performance, heightened by ‘Baring Teeth For Revolt’ (the highlight of Goatwhore’s latest album ‘Constricting Rage Of The Merciless’), which sounds like a blackened version of Van Halen’s ‘Hot For Teacher’, aired among the tight grooves and rapid proto-thrash attack of songs from the gauntlet-sporting band’s recent run of raucous albums.

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Dying Fetus (Photo: Fran Geoghegan)

 

Besides their profile increase as a result of the social media campaign that succeeded in getting Dying Fetus on the lineup for Download 2014, not a whole lot has changed in the camp of vocalist/guitarist John Gallagher and vocalist/bassist Sean Beasley (who are rounded out by drummer Trey Williams) since they last played Dublin in September of 2012. The stability and consistency at the core of Dying Fetus is why the seminal death metal band hold the respect of the scene and constantly draw an impressive crowd when they play Ireland. So although there’s nothing out of the norm from their career-spanning set-list tonight, the slamming breakdowns and force of their filthy riffs still piss all over the mainstream, giving those here exactly what they expected from a band who have inspired a multitude of death metal acts. With each passing song, the sweaty crowd mosh with more gusto and the highlight of the night comes when a head-banging disabled fan down the front is hoisted into the air to crowd surf while remaining in his wheelchair – a shocking moment that increases the energy levels around the Voodoo Lounge for the remainder of Dying Fetus’s workman-like show.

Much has been mistakenly made about the negativity around metal, but even the staunchest naysayer would be impressed by such scenes which highlighting the fraternal nature at the black heart of heavy music. Everyone is welcome, there’s no prejudice in the Dying Fetus pit tonight.

Words: Dean Brown

Photos: Fran Geoghegan

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About Kez Whelan

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