Summer Slaughter: Live Review

By on 23 August 2013


Summer Slaughter – Studio Seven, Seattle (19 August)

It’s a sweltering Monday afternoon in Seattle for the second to last date of 2013’s Summer Slaughter tour and despite the early afternoon door time, Studio Seven is filling up quite quickly so that local support band Numbers actually have an audience for their quick set of dance-infused metalcore. However their set is rather uneventful with nothing to really grab the listeners but still quick and painless.

Aussie deathcore outfit Thy Art is Murder are the first touring band up and unleash a swift set of their, admittedly clichéd, deathcore that’s heavy on chugging riffs and the reliable breakdown. The crowd don’t mind too much as a few voices are heard singing along to final track ‘Reign of Darkness’.

On that note Rings of Saturn deliver a similar set but is missing much of the energy and grit needed to drive their point home. They seem content at their style, which has some technical chops, but after Thy Art Is Murder, the thirst for deathcore on the bill has been more than quenched.

In recent years, the line-up of Summer Slaughter has shifted from death metal dominated to one shared with many deathcore and djent bands and several acts affiliated with Sumerian Records as the tour’s marquee names will attest. Sweden’s Aeon take us back to the death metal origins of the tour though with a short set of more traditionally minded DM, which is straightforward and to the point.

Tech thrashers Revocation mark a notable change in the day, kicking things up a couple of gears with their searing and technical, but totally energetic, onslaught. ‘The Hive’ erupts to start and the life and energy of David Davidson and co is utterly infectious as the crowd reacts appropriately in the pit, and it’s clear that Revocation are the first great band of the day as they steamroll through the likes of ‘Invidious’.

With their recent spat with tour organisers and venue security over stage diving and crowd surfing, German post metallers The Ocean will be pleased to see that the venue on this night lacks a barrier and vocalist Loïc Rossetti takes full advantage, throwing himself into the crowd and doesn’t miss a note either. Given the nature of the tour, the band stick with the heaviest material in their arsenal, and mostly taken from the latest record ‘Pelagial’, like ‘Bathyalpelagic II: The Wish in Dreams’ and are joined by Thy Art Is Murder’s CJ McMahon for a storming rendition of ‘Demersal: Cognitive Dissonance’ to lay the venue to waste to close.

Cattle Decapitation

Cattle Decapitation

Speaking of laying things to waste, the crowd are more than pumped for Cattle Decapitation as the ‘Cattle’ chants prove. The San Diegan death grinders truly bring some brutality and disgust, thanks to their intense, unrelenting riffs and frontman Travis Ryan’s erratic behaviour of spitting and blowing snot while contorting his body in hysterical shapes and forms all while shrieking and bellowing his way through the set. Unfortunately, the vocals could do with being higher in the mix to really do the band justice but they still deliver the goods.

Norma Jean are another band that don’t quite fit the mould, when put up next to the other bands on the tour. It serves the post hardcore veterans well though as they offer up a break in the night’s running order but it’s no less fervent as the five-piece are on fire and faultless from start to finish with cuts from ‘Wrongdoers’ fitting nicely into the set, but it’s the storming ‘Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste’ that steals the show and closes off their slot.

Periphery are making their second consecutive Summer Slaughter appearance this year and they seem more than happy to do so, firing through a quick set of their hooky djent. ‘Icarus Lives’ is the closest thing the band has to an anthem at this stage of their young careers and on this occasion, Periphery kick off the set with it, followed by fervent renditions of material from their latest record like ‘Facepalm Mute’ and ‘Scarlet’. The energy of the band on stage is palpable and vocalist Spencer Sotelo is a particular standout, hitting glistening high notes with ease and fitting the enigmatic role of frontman just right while weaving through the sea of stage invaders and divers.

Animals As Leaders are next and being comrades of Periphery, get a similar response. The technical instru-metal band, helmed by Tosin Abasi, makes quick work of their short set where Abasi does what he does best and peels off mind numbing riff after riff. The set only takes a little slump by the midway point with some material from ‘Weightless’ losing a bit of their momentum but with the closer of ‘CAFO’ things are whipped back into shape for a thunderous end.


The Dillinger Escape Plan

Needless to say, it’s been a long day for all involved but headliners The Dillinger Escape Plan are up next to cap things off and the mathcore legends do a top job of rounding off the day. Generally, Dillinger shows are thought of as unpredictable but at this point it’s a little easy to predict what’s going to happen. It’s going to be off kilter and physical, Greg Puciato is going to lunge himself into the crowd and Ben Weinman will dive off the amps, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. All of these things happen in spades and with the manic strobe lighting that accompanies their show, it’s next to impossible to track the movements of the band.

With a new record just out this summer, it’s not surprising that Dillinger are busting out plenty of new material, such as the opener in ‘Prancer’ but it’s the older tunes that steal the show every time. ‘43% Burnt’ and ‘Panasonic Youth’ are totally visceral, meanwhile ‘Milk Lizard’ is a catchy number to break the frenzy for a moment. ‘Black Bubblegum’ is conspicuous by its absence in the set, however it’s Dillinger doing what Dillinger do best and their live show is still a treat for the senses, aurally and visually.

WORDS: Jonathan Keane

About Kez Whelan

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