Death metal concerts are the (dead) heart and (sold) soul of the genre.
w/Obituary; The Ready Room, St. Louis
During the day, the snow poured across St. Louis. Half the city and county had called into work, leaving only a few intrepid souls to brave the merciless assault of the elements. For some of us, it wouldn’t be the only assault we faced that evening. The snow melted away as if it knew what was coming.
It was hot, sweaty, and dripping in the Ready Room. Hordes of death metal fans crowded the stage as Abysmal Dawn started shredding. For 30 minutes the veteran death band told their stories through blast beats, guitar solos, demonic growls, and pure anger. As would be a constant through the night, they asked for circle pits and they received them.
Cryptopsy was up next. This was my first dance with the veteran band from Montreal, and I found myself fixated on the strangest things during their set. The drummer was wearing a cross between a mage (samurai top-knot) and a man bun. In my mind, he became a French Canadian Samurai.
Vocalist Matt McGachy was in strong voice. His growls permeated the ether and my personal existential crisis of mortality. Unfortunately, to get there, he had to make some strange faces. His vocal style is not a personal favorite of mine and overpowered the technical aspects of the band. However, the rest of the crowd disagreed with me vehemently, and delivered when asked for greater moshing, greater noise, and greater anger. Unlike Abysmal Dawn, the circle pits began to start up without prompting. It was a death metal harbinger.
Next, it was time for Obituary. There is nothing about the legendary Tampa Bay death metal band I can say that has not already been said. It would be easy to pontificate on their technical prowess, their amazing ability to recreate their albums, their superb catalog of death metal, or the seven tons of hair on stage. All that needs to be said that Obituary found a gear I didn’t know they had. They were competing for control of the stage with Cannibal Corpse and shots were fired. This is how the big boys of death metal do it.
But this was a Cannibal Corpse crowd—not that there’s too much difference between the two bands’ fan bases. As the sound check was completed, the very diverse crowd began to slither into the stage area. The Ready Room is stark concrete and spartan in its decorations; there are pipes overhead. In other words, it’s a death metal paradise. It feels like the genre could have been invented in this room.
As the headlining act fired up the war machine, the crowd responded in kind. The pits became bigger and more violent. Underneath it all, though, metal pits are all the same. When someone falls, 10 people pick them up. Aside from the fellow throwing elbows, it was a perfect example of community.
As the band played, the excitement never stopped. The crowd began sweating profusely, as did the roof of the venue. Water was dripping off of the pipes. People were pushing. The drums felt like being hit with an AK-47. Cannibal Corpse responded to Obituary’s shots with many of their own. The two biggest acts of the night both survived the battle. The majority of the casualties were 25-oz. cans of Busch Bavarian Lager, but these martyrs were appreciated.
Death metal evokes images. Death metal concerts are the (dead) heart and (sold) soul of the genre. When someone important or notorious arrives, the tribe convenes. The ritual chants and dances are performed and the adherents sweat more than the clergy.
This was no exception. As it was in 1992, it was in 2016: pure death metal. | Nik Cameron
Photo by Danny Nichols