Kataklysm & Suffocation In Vancouver: Live Review

By on 11 November 2014

Photo: Charlene Tupper

Canadian death metallers Kataklysm have recently been touring round their home country as part of a killer package that also included Suffocation, Jungle Rot, Pyrexia, Internal Bleeding and Zuckus. Our very own Rich Taylor went along to bang his head, and here’s what he reckoned…

Vancouver Carnival of Death Tour – Kataklysm, Suffocation, Jungle Rot, Pyrexia, Internal Bleeding and Zuckus

The Rickshaw Theatre, October 25, 2014

Initial apologies must be handed to local openers Star Wars-themed death grinders Zuckus; if there’s one downside to a night with six blast-laden bands it’s getting to the venue for early doors in shit weather and mental traffic…

As if to rub in missing these noise-mongers, Internal Bleeding sing Zuckus’ praise before stomping (literally) into a set of punchy NYC death metal. Despite being around since Terrance Hobbs donned his signature specs and playing their own part in pioneering the genre, Internal Bleeding have never quite gained the exposure of their peers, yet they offer up an enjoyable enough series of chops that quickly tempt a few eager individuals into some early pit antics. Unfortunately however frontman Keith DeVito’s belligerence ultimately leaves Internal Bleeding’s set with a bit sour aftertaste; a shame considering the admirable musicianship of his bandmates. Note: Vancouverites are generally pretty sympathetic to the despondency that inspired this song. Banging on about “killing crackheads” after the show probably won’t sell tshirts.

Up next are Pyrexia, who proceed to bludgeon the ears of the expanding Rickshaw audience with a set of brutal death metal loaded with street-dwelling swagger and rage. Highlighting the shared NYC roots of 50% of the bands on this bill, DeVito heads back to the stage to join the band he once fronted for a journey into their back catalogue, inciting the crowd into some stompy circle pit action. Not holding back on the slams, Pyrexia provide a decent warm up to the masterful display of their home city’s sound yet to come, and if the rabid responses screamed from the crowd to the names Jungle Rot, Suffocation and Kataklysm are anything to go by this is only the start of a promisingly chaotic evening.

Jungle Rot then hit the stage like an exceptionally hairy juggernaut, offering up a welcome change of tempo and lathering the now packed venue with old school groove. Although Jungle Rot’s pockets may not be packed with the same brutal chops of their bill-mates, their classically-inspired death-thrash riffs and frontman Dave Matrise’s gore-filled guttural orations tick all the right extreme metal boxes. Apparently it was just was the crowd was after, and the band enjoy the greatest response of the night so far, with their delightfully chunky, stripped down performance demonstrating how, even if they have flown a little under the radar, Jungle Rot have got something for all fans of riffy, headbang-friendly metal.


Photo: Charlene Tupper

Remember what we said about masterful displays? There simply isn’t another reasonable way to describe the performance by the band to then take the stage, that despite the absence of the death metal’s most characteristic frontman still manage to blow the brains and bowels out of every sentient being in the room. Handling mic duties for Suffocation tonight is Disgorge’s (drummer) Ricky Myers, who does a grand job of filling Frank’s enormously brutal boots while simultaneously lashing about the place like a total lunatic. Covering their entire history and back catalogue, Suffocation tear through live staples as well as a few tracks from last year’s ‘Pinnacle Of Bedlam’, demonstrating how even over 20 years after ‘Effigy Of The Forgotten’, they’re still the godfathers of combining technicality and brutality to punishing perfection. The crowd lap it up, and with Myers barely pausing for breath between tracks, the set becomes a frantic blur of riffs, blasts, and joyous Mullen-chopping. As the inevitable climax of ‘Infecting The Crypts’ pounds its way out of the speakers causing more than a few beers to take to the skies, Terrance looks up from his riffs with a shit-eating grin plastered onto his face that pretty accurately summarises the last hour. Myers lets out that final deafening grunt, and Suffocation depart the stage affirming their status as one of death metal’s living legends once again.

Following that would be a tough job for any band, and even the homebred finishing act on the Canadian stretch of this co-headlining tour struggle to capture the quickly dissipating crowd. It perhaps didn’t help that the Quebecois headlined this very venue only six months ago, yet Maurizio and co. don’t seem too perturbed as they plunge into a set of signature Kataklysm material. Staple tracks such ‘Like Angels Weeping… The Dark’ and ‘Blood On The Swans’ get their regular airing, but Kataklysm’s chest-
thumping groove simply seems to lack dynamism in the aftermath of Suffocation, and ultimately much of the crowd’s attention wanes. It doesn’t stop the fanatics working up an admirable bit of last-ditch pit activity however, with ‘As I Slither’ especially helping regain some lost momentum, yet the applause that greets Maurizio’s announcement of guitarist Jean-Francois Dagenais’s new fatherhood (congrats!) seemed to be a few crucial decibels above that of when Kataklysm say au revoir. It was always going to be a steep slope to climb, and as an audience glutted on blasts and brutality stumble from the Rickshaw, it was clear who sated the most appetites tonight.

Words: Rich Taylor

Photos: Charlene Tupper

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