The second of two big tours I’ve witnessed in 2015 with the word Summer in the title was the Summer Slaughter Tour boasting a headlining appearance by Arch Enemy and supported by Beyond Creation, Cattle Decapitation, The Acacia Strain, Veil of Maya, and Born of Osiris. This show was undeniably brutal as each vocalist for each band busted out what could easily be called a growl, not your typical vocal styling but also very prevalent in the death metal genre. After having watched this show very intently, I still cannot imagine how these vocalists manage these death growls without making themselves vomit all over the stage. Thankfully, no vomit was seen.
On a side note, traveling to a concert venue in Downtown Baltimore during rush hour should be avoided at all costs. Having said that, we did arrive to the venue after the show started so we were only able to catch Beyond Creation as they were finishing. An outfit hailing from Quebec, Montreal, Canada that’s been breaking out with progressive death metal since 2005, Beyond Creation has a tight sound with high energy. I will be happy to see them again the next time they hit Baltimore.
After a very quick and confused set change, we were next treated to Cattle Decapitation, currently a 4-man group out of San Diego, CA. The experience of these guys showed through, having been together in some fashion since 1996. Their setlist consisted of old and new music alike with head banging riffs and hooks, thunderous drums and more devilish growling. Cattle Decap enjoyed a good fan reaction with some mild moshing and crowd surfing. Despite the fact that there is a nice big sign on the way into the venue which strictly states no moshing, stage diving or crowd surfing. I guess the management knows better than to try to limit crowd surfing at a death metal show.
Next up was The Acacia Strain. Unfortunately for us, during the first half of their set, we were conducting an interview elsewhere within the building. So, we could only catch the last half of their performance. Coming out of Massachusetts, The Acacia Strain is hard to categorize, being described as deathcore by fans and hardcore punk influenced metal by media and fans alike. All I know is that they put on another brutal performance, as seems to be the norm for this entire tour. Of course, just like every other band on this tour, the lyrics were completely indiscernible but they were still fun to see live. Kevin Boutot’s drum lines were complex but had that driving beat that makes for great head-banging.
Veil of Maya was next up. One of the first things I noticed was the guitars. Danny Hauser’s bass seemed to have at least 6 strings which is not very common in metal. Being labeled as part of the “djent” movement in the metal world, Veil of Maya has many characteristics not normally found in death metal, such as complicated riffs and time changes. The one thing that is a standard, however, is the growling vocals. There was no shortage of that with this band. Which segued seamlessly intoBorn of Osiris, a 5-piece tornado whirling straight out of the Chicago suburbs. In keeping with their name, Born of Osiris had lots of Egyptian imagery on their stage set, an interesting light show and also a set of keyboards manned by Joe Buras, who also lends some clean vocals to the mix. Both of these things, keyboards and clean vocals, are not readily visible in this genre, just like the djent aspects of Veil of Maya. Born of Osiris gave an energetic and heart-felt performance, mixing the death growls of Ronnie Canizaro and the clean vocals of Joe Buras which culminated in brilliance. As like many bands I’ve been lucky enough to see, Born of Osiris does NOT disappoint in a live setting.
The headliner for the night was Arch Enemy. The biggest difference Arch Enemy has with the rest of tonight’s line-up is Arch Enemy has a female vocalist, Allisa White-Gluz, whose death growls rival any of the men who have fronted all other bands on stage tonight. If you weren’t looking at her, you’d have no idea she is who she is with beautiful royal blue hair and a high energy stage presence. Another band out of tonight’s line-up with only one original member, Arch Enemy has beaten the odds and enjoyed success throughout many member changes, having had two vocalists prior to Alissa.
Arch Enemy also put on a helluva show, presenting both new and older music to a frenzied crowd both moshing and crowd surfing viciously. Our photographer was even kicked in the head while attempting to capture photos of the show. He’s okay now. Their masterful performance of War Eternal practically brought the house down prompting an even larger, more active mosh pit. Arch Enemy delivered a top-notch set which was met with enthusiastic reckless abandon by the fans.
Overall, this was an awesome show. I think it’s pretty cool how promotors are creating tours showcasing a certain genre of music. However, in this case, all the bands sounded eerily similar. There weren’t that many things that could distinguish one band from the other, other than Born of Osiris with their clean vocals and keyboards, Arch Enemy with Alissa at the helm, or Veil of Maya with the time signature changes and added versatility of expanded string sets on their equipment. With that said, definitely check these bands out if you get the chance!
Dawn “Mama Love” Brown
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