Following a set by the excellent throwback German thrash band Dust Bolt, which I missed due to circumstances beyond my control, Skeletonwitch eagerly took the stage and did not disappoint. New vocalist Adam Clemans was all fire and fury as he shrieked his way through a career spanning set list, where “Fen of Shadows” from their forthcoming LP ‘Devouring Radiant Light’ shared space with old favorites like “This Horrifying Force” and “Beyond the Permafrost.” Despite trouble with their trailer en route to the show and some minor technical issues with Nate Garnette’s rig, the band’s set suitably warmed up the rowdy crowd at the Sinclair.
Having seen them on the same stage in support of their first LP, 2012’s ‘Sorrow and Extinction,’ it’s been interesting to reflect on how Pallbearer, the oddest man out on the night’s playbill, has evolved over the years. Despite a gradual and welcome reliance on more traditional melodies and choruses and an increased focus on efficiency, their calling card, an unhurried atmospheric approach to doom, has remained the same. Their live performance however, has improved exponentially over the years. In addition to a marked increase in confidence and technical ability, they have discovered that cranking it up to “11” doesn’t always contribute to an audience friendly mix. Where their mushy overloud Sinclair set in 2013 was marred by guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell’s awkward stage presence and buried vocals, Campbell and band are at the top of their game 2018.
Book ended by fine performances of a “Watcher in the Dark” and “Worlds Apart,” a pair of quintessential ‘Foundations of Burden’ tracks, the band only played lead-off single “Thorns” from ‘Heartless,’ my personal favorite record of 2017. Rounded out by the fairly obscure ‘Sorrow and Extinction’ track “Devoid of Redemption,” and their excellent new single “Dropout,” Pallbearer played with power and conviction, and more than earned their place on a bill skewed towards more up tempo and extreme fare.
Obituary took the stage like old pros to an extremely raucous crowd. The pit opened up minutes into set opener “Stinkpuss” from 1989s seminal ‘Slowly We Rot,’ and continued to expand. Death metal icon, singer John Tardy, was in fine voice and looked positively elated as he lumbered around the stage throughout their career spanning set. Live crowd pleasing medley “Chopped in Half/Turned Inside Out” proved to be a mid-set highlight, as the whole band, including Obituary mainstays rhythm guitarist Trevor Peres and pummeling drummer extraordinary Donald Tardy, fired on all cylinders.
The band’s brutal intensity did not let up throughout their generous set, and the energized crowd responded with unbridled enthusiasm. In fact, formal set closer saw the pit expanding to encompass most of the venue’s floor space, which caused a bit of tension between the moshers and the rest of the crowd. After a brief break, the band returned for a 3 song romp that built the crowd energy up to the breaking point, as the tensions between the pit and the rest of the crowd erupted in the form of a brawl. Like all good metal shows though, cooler heads (and bigger peacekeepers) prevailed, and an elated and satisfied crowd relished in the final strains of definitive set closer “Slowly We Rot.”
Thrash, death and doom rained down upon the packed house at the Sinclair in Cambridge Massachusetts on Sunday May 6th. The event found unlikely allies Dust Bolt, Skeleton Witch, Pallbearer, and Obituary paying tribute to the metal pantheon via lively sets bestowed upon an elated congregation of the metal faithful.