Thinking back on the whirlwind night of Decibel Magazine Tour‘s Webster Hall finale, the main thing that comes to mind is not the sweaty masses of hairy metal dudes, bad ass chics or even the amazing music from Vallenfyre, Pallbearer, Converge and At The Gates (playing their first set in NYC in many years).
No, what got me the most was thinking of the influence and deep involvement of all the members of these bands in the metal scene and how much passion can spread to coat the world in one person’s lifetime of work. From Converge’s Jacob Bannon’s Deathwish Inc. label/distro to his artistic influence on the visual side of the scene to Vallenfyre’s cast of characters deeply influential work in bands like Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride to Pallbearer playing big hip festivals only metal bands like Mastodon or Metallica usually get asked to play to At The Gates deep legacy on melodeath to the members involvement in other groups ranging from The Haunted to Disfear and Skitsystem, you’ve got a huge web of metal history, present and future emanating from the stage.
For the full review see BELOW.
And the stage itself has a huge legacy (which Jake from Converge gets points for mentioning on stage)! Webster Hall was once The Ritz, the home of the crossover movement’s biggest victories. Heck, Obituary and Agnostic Front once played here together.
If anything time has proven that punk and metal are more powerful when the scenes can work in conjunction, as the line up itself here tonight showed. One of the highlights of the night for me was purchasing Decibel Magazine main man Albert Mudrian’s Choosing Death revised and expanded edition, a fucking crucial collector’s item (with great Dan Seagrave cover art) for anyone serious about metal and grind. The book is adamant about the anarcho-punk connections and fast USA hardcore connections to early Napalm Death and all of those sounds in tandem helped change and shape what we know as extreme music today. A cool part of the new edition is Albert reflecting on the eve of At The Gate’s new album release after 19 years and what a journey it has been.
Indeed. Skeptics of whether At The Gates should have reformed would’ve been easilly silenced witnessing the unity of the crowd during their deservedly lengthy headlining set. While I wish ATG had played more stuff from my perhaps favorite With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness, the new material like set opening brutal march “Death And The Labyrinth” and “The Circular Ruins” worked well alongside classics like “Slaghter Of The Soul” and “Terminal Spirit Disease.” Tomas Lindberg worked the crowd like the pro he is and the unrelenting tour of the band’s aesthetic was triumphant and certainly still relevant.
Converge are a band I have seen many times. This semi-short set was not my favorite crowd interraction with the band, especially compared to the psycho as fuck last time I’d seen them in NYC destroy Highline Ballroom avec Torche. Gripes aside, it was a solid set from the hardcore scene vets. I was pleased they threw in “Jane Doe fan only” downer “You Fail Me” into the set, as it is always an onslaught live and those high bendy notes Kurt Ballou plays in that song still slice into your head for days. You Fail Me is still prob my fave album from Converge and while I wish some Forever Comes Crashing stuff was in the set as well, it was a good slice of new and old-ish. “All We Love We Leave Behind” is a painful anthem of real beauty.
Pallbearer couldn’t fit too many of their opuses in to their set time, but they had easily the most somber and in some ways deeply satisfying set on an internal level. People were really paying attention and taking it in, which was cool. The band are doing heroic stuff and I like their new tye dye shirt. It made me laugh. This was my second time seeing them live and I’d urge anyone into extreme music or just fucking good music to put them on then cross them off your bucket list of “must see” bands. I feel like they are kind of filling the Isis void for a lot of people now, in some ways.
I’m reviewing the show in reverse order so I can end with Vallenfyre. The UK band blew me away. I had not really heard much of them before, though I knew of the band’s existence. Let me just say that their newest Splinters was what I was listening to on the long train ride home that night. From the doomy feedback to the band’s smoke shrouded blue and red lit ceremonial attack, I was really brought into their set. A few funny jokes about having sex with Jesus or some other zingers I can’t remember now in my half baked state aside, the band was all business. They even played another show late that night at Vitus in Brooklyn!
All in all, Decibel has a lot to be proud of with this tour and the band’s themselves should really be appreciated for what they are doing. And while this may sound cheese, you motherfuckers need to be aprpeciated to. That’s what tours like this are about, so don’t get stuck focusing on some bullshit bands when you can have a tour like this which really is linked to the entire history of this musical art we call heavy metal.