A black stampede raged through Times Square, as hundreds of metalheads poured into the Best Buy Theater for New York City’s stop on The Summer Slaughter Tour. Eleven bands performed nine hours of chest-rattling metal for the most extreme night of the year. I was front and center for the brunt of it and let me tell you cretins: this show was every bit as intense as it was billed. Armed with my camera, press pass, iPhone, cigarettes, and scores of power backups, I was ready for journalistic war. And I fucking conquered. Click here for the full spread of pictures and commentary. First up was Brooklyn, NY locals Ashes Within. As I was speaking with singer AJ Channer, he expressed nothing but humility to be part of the night’s line up. Ashes Within’s songs are “crafted for maximum visceral impact” and their stage performance accurately mirrored that. Their whirlwind thirty-minute set lit a fire under everyone’s ass, heating them up for the rest of the evening’s melee. Post-set and mid-cig, I got a chance to speak my good impressions to bassist Christopher Carrigy. In return for my kind words, he slipped me their full-length album, Declaration of Internal War. It’s a scorcher. Catch them throwing down in and around New York. Next to play was Sydney, Australia’s Thy Art Is Murder. I briefly caught up with singer Chris Mcmahon after he slid down a handrail and then voiced my anticipation for their set. I was glad to finally see this troop live, as I have heard nothing but crushing awesomeness regarding their live show. All true. Performing songs from their latest release on Nuclear Blast, Hate, these bogan beasts shook the venue and rattled the floor crowd’s cage. They seemed to have a fair amount of supporters there, as they clamored loudly between songs and at the end of the set. What came after the Aussies was the best surprise of the night, Rings of Saturn, who hail from the Bay Area of California. Holy fuck these guys have chops and they definitely stole the first half of the night. Their disgustingly fast guitar runs would make any seasoned lead guitar player immediately cry tears of failure and seriously rethink his purpose in life. No joke, their two guitarists really brought their A game for their set and made an instant fan out of me. They were touring in support of their most recent release on United Leader Records, Dingir, which is a perfectly shreddy soundtrack to make that unannounced jump into hyper-drive though a violent and unknown part of space. Get into these guys now. Brownie points to singer Ian Bearer for wearing a Saint Vitus t-shirt, the black standard for metal bars here in NYC. It read: “Satan is good, Whiskey is better.” Way to play to your audience. And then there were Vikings. Tall, massively maned, clad in spiked boots Vikings. Östersund, Sweden’s Aeon pillaged the stage and incited some very palpable ferocity within the pit. People start smashing into each other and the bodies begin to surf their way up to the stage en masse. While this brand of death metal isn’t really my thing, their stage presence and crowd command was undeniably authoritative. They played, the crowd slayed. It’s as simple as that. Their third release from Metal Blade, Aeons Black, dropped last November. I’m sure our wonder twins have it. They were definitely jealous.
Next to take the stage was Boston’s Revocation, a techy thrash band I had earnestly wanted to see for the first time. They just released their self-titled fifth album on Relapse just the day before, but they only hit two from that. Revocation has five albums out. I fanatically await for the day when they can play a fifteen song set. These guys are an amazing band that really kills the fucking game. Singer and guitarist David Davidson just grinned the whole show as he effortlessly lashed out an obscene amount of notes for the duration of their set. He was obviously having a great time, which is good to see. His smiling may not be dark and brutal, but it sure lets you know how David feels while he is melting your face into a puddle. Then you have bassist Brett Bamberger flailing all over the place as he puts his whole body into his performance. He was definitely the most energetic musician I saw all night, and Revocation one of the reasons I wanted to cover this tour. I cannot wait to see these guys again. Cattle Decapitation brings the show back to the death realm as they took the stage, playing their fantastically appalling track “Forced Gender Reassignment.” You should really watch the music video for this song. Our wonder twins Tyrus and Sean had the opportunity to interview their guitarist Josh Elmore up in Boston. I found them later and chatted them up for a bit. Despite penning such songs as “Tooth Enamel and Concrete” and “The Regurgitation of Corpses,” you’d never know they were in a well-established grinding death metal band. I was totally blown away at their performance and by their chill and gracious demeanor. Their latest album on Metal Blade is Monolith of Inhumanity. Hot off the heels of their new release as well, Georgia metalcore veterans Norma Jean kept the heaviness going with songs from Wrongdoers, out on Solid State. Another example of not my thing, but I will say this: vocalist Cory Putnam was rocking an At The Left Hand of God shirt, which is a metal band from my hometown of Kansas City. Why and how that came to be, I don’t know, but you rock buddy. Their set kept the crowd’s blood pumping and their supporters definitely came out to play. Going from not my vibe to totally my fucking jam, this is the second time I have seen Periphery, the first with Deftones just five months earlier. Everyone in the photo pit was scoffing at me for raging along while taking pics. So what? I may be working, but who says I can’t sing my lungs out while doing it? Fanboy status? You bet. Their most recent album on Sumerian, Periphery II can never pummel my eardrums too loud on a daily basis. I was completely enamored with the opportunity to shoot my favorite band and I’m really happy with their performance this night as well as the last time I saw them, which is still fresh in my mind. The crowd was going absolutely bonkers. The entire floor had a bounce to bop and the wave of bodies emerging from the crowd over the barrier was relentless, to say the least. So what more can I say? They absolutely killed it without a fucking hitch. Here’s their setlist: Icarus Lives Facepalm Mute Make Total Destroy Scarlet Zyglrox Luck as a Constant Have a Blast Ragnarok As much as I love Animals as Leaders, this marks my fourth time seeing them including a (very informative) Tosin Abasi tech session at Guitar Center. What I’m getting at is that I knew what I was going to see. The crowd mellowed out significantly, much to the bouncers’ delight after their predecessors. They opened with “Tempting Time,” which always has a disappointing first drop when played live and they closed with “CAFO,” both textbook opener and closer for Animals. Their set was very heavy on songs from their latest release on Sumerian, Weightless. I would have preferred a bit more from their self-titled, which I find much heavier. Still, I was thrilled to be up in their faces, getting a very intimate look a their artistic performance, which was backed by dual projection screens, as always. Which brings us to our mighty extreme prog headliner, The Dillinger Escape Plan. They definitely owned the crowd and came out like seasoned pros. Ben was getting very Weinman, taking multiple flights off amps and really searing his physical performance into the minds of the adrenaline-jacked crowd. This makes three bands for Sumerian, the founder of the feast, so to speak. Dillinger cranked out several songs from their newest release, One of Us is the Killer, while touching on many of their previous releases. They definitely had the advantage there, as they have an extensive catalogue to pull from. Alas, no “Lurch” or “Sick on Sunday.” I wish more bands would take a tip from these guys: light your stage brighter. That was a huge photog plus. I was thoroughly impressed with Dillinger’s entire performance, as was their followers. So there it is cretins. Nine hours of metal. What a rager. Horns up to all these bands for coming out and putting on an awesome show all fucking day long.