On Friday June 2nd, 2017, The Crofoot in Pontiac, Michigan was the next stop on Morbid Angel’s headlining tour of obliteration with support from Suffocation, Revocation and Withered. I left my day job and drove straight to the venue and after a snack break, I got in line and waited until doors opened at 6 pm. I figured with the early time that doors were opening, that the show would start early, at least I hoped. Kind of a drag when there’s at least four bands and the show doesn’t start until after 8 pm, making it a very long night. Luckily the show started around 6:45 pm with a band added to the bill.
Kicking the show off was a local Detroit metal band Hate Unbound. I didn’t realize that the fella I held the door open for as we left the bathroom was Hate Unbound’s lead singer, Art Giammara. He was in a leg cast and using a scooter to get around. But once he hit the stage and began singing, the only thing holding him back was his broken leg as his enthusiasm bellowed as the rest of the band, Daryl Mitchell and William Cundiff on guitars, Sean Demura on bass and Franklin Hannah on drums played a heavy thrashing set of tunes to get the mood of the night set just right. Despite playing to a house that wasn’t quite yet full, Hate Unbound shredded their instruments and had a damn good time doing it.
Withered went on next. I noticed right away that Withered had a sound that was a touch slower and on the sludgy side as compared to Hate Unbound who had a crisper clean sound. These guys out of Atlanta, Georgia trudged through a heavy-laden bout of songs. With lead singer and guitar player, Mike Thompson teaming with vocals and guitar from Ethan McCarthy, Beau Brandon on drums and Colin Marston on bass, these guys, much like Hate Unbound played to a less than full house but still put forth their energy towards the people who were there and that energy carried on into the evening.
When Revocation hit the stage, you could feel the intensity in the air rising. As more people filled the venue, this group out of Boston, Massachusetts got the crowd revved up and the crowd answered back as the moshing began. Lead singer and guitarist David Davidson roared as he riffed his guitar into submission along with bandmates Dan Gargiulo on guitar, Brett Bamberger on bass and Ash Pearson on drums who had his kit sounding like a thundering herd. Revocation plays some brutal pulse pounding beats with precision touches on the guitars. It’s no wonder why the crowd came alive while they played. Revocation has some nice merch as well. I bought one of their shirts which says, “Theatre of Horror” on the back and a beheading scene in front of onlookers on the front. That scene on the shirt summed up the rest of the night, a crowd of onlookers stunned by brutality but entertained and energized by it as well.
Suffocation took the stage to a crowd ready for more intense action. With a sizeable following, Suffocation was welcomed with cheers and once the music played, the moshing commenced. Musically this band is a whirlwind of heavy low-end sounds and lightning fast speed on guitars and drums. Suffocation is Terrance Hobbs on lead guitar, the lone original member who has a calm presence yet whips his dreads furiously time to time, Derek Boyer on bass who is a gravitational eye puller with his moves on the bass guitar, Charlie Errigo on rhythm guitar and Eric Morotti on drums. Suffocation has a unique vocal situation as Frank Mullen, the bands original and current vocalist has stopped full-time touring, so the band uses a vocal stand-in for live shows. Tonight, featured Kevin Muller who held his own and kept the ball rolling with his growls and grimace. It was a sight to see the crowd into the music with all the moshing and circle pit action. I was just imagining how many dudes and ladies are going to be sore in the morning. But with the heavy beats playing, a bit of moshing is expected.
With a short intermission for set-up for the headliner, the crowd had a nice break to take a breather, maybe grab a smoke or have another drink. Because once Morbid Angel stepped on stage, it was time for the fans to get back to business. Moshing business that is. Of course, not every single audience member was moshing, but there were more than a few diehards who moshed well into the night which created a pocket in the middle of the floor. Morbid Angel has been a long staple in the death metal genre and has influenced countless bands along the way. As Morbid Angel played I could hear those influences and see how bands picked parts of Morbid Angel’s style and made them their own.
I last saw Morbid Angel back in 2001 as they opened for Pantera, I wasn’t overly impressed with them at the time. But tonight, I see how good this band based out of Tampa, Florida is and why so many bands were influenced by Morbid Angel. Guitarist Trey Azagthoth the bands only original member since its inception in 1984 has kept the music going. Azagthoth is touted as one of the best guitarists in heavy metal. Azagthoth doesn’t wow you with any flashy moves or outrageous wardrobe, just some simple guitar pickin’ and the music speaks for itself.On vocals was Steve Tucker who has an aura that makes you recognize his presence. Tucker effortlessly belts out growled lyrics while he pummels the bass guitar. A couple of new comers who joined this year helped round out the band. With Scott Fuller on drums who was relentless as he rapidly attacked the skins and Dan Vadim Von who was energetic as he wailed away on his guitar. Morbid Angel has a blend of hard heavy and crisp surgical sounds that kept the crowd rocking from start to finish.
The power of heavy metal was alive tonight and the display of the originators and those influenced, goes to show that rock and roll will never die, because as long as there’s aggression and a message to be told, rock and roll will be there to tell it and the fans will be there to support it. Rock on!