Would You Believe Me If I Told You There Actually Wasn’t Any Legitimate Deathcore There? Summer Slaughter at the Worcester Palladium

The following is a joint review between Redneck From Hell  myself, That Metal Dude. A combination of colors not to be trifled with.

Red: This year’s Summer Slaughter had no real deathcore. Like, fucking really. Well, that’s not entirely true; the second stage consisting of only local bands had some deathcore, but locals don’t count anyway.

Black: Do they ever?

Red: This year we had female-fronted Scottish slam, drunken blackened thrash, greenery-influenced prog, a couple bad djent bands, and a whole bunch o’ death metal, including the godfathers of gore, the mighty Cannibal Corpse. I largely stuck to the main stage due to a lack of quality bands upstairs, though I was disappointed to miss Dysentery’s set, which coincided with The Contortionist. Fuck. I’m kind of finding it difficult to make jokes.

Black: I got one for ya; Autotheism. ZING.

Red: This is gonna be a boring-ass review.

Black: That’s the can-do attitude we’ve come to embrace.

Red: This show was so good, I feel like poking fun at it would be akin to sawing off a unicorn’s horn, using it to stab the mythical beast in the throat, and proceeding to sodomize it post-mortem. Wait, never mind.

Black: In short, Summer Slaughter this year was great, as usual. Some bands were a bit off their mark, including some that I enjoy, which is bound to happen, but if you walk into shows expecting perfection, you’d be better off buying and drinking Smirnoff like the worthless bladder you are.

Red: Cerebral Bore was up first, and this merry bunch of Scottish brutality-bringers opened up the show with a sick sort of glee.

Though they only were allowed 20 minutes to slam around the stage, they brought some serious energy to the venue.

Black: These Scotch sots may not be quite vital on record, but live, it’s something to see.

Red: Simone has some unfuckwith-able brutal vo-killz, and the “for a woman” thing doesn’t even apply. She can hold her own with the best of ‘em. Arch Angela ain’t got shit on Cerebral. Though the band’s songwriting can be a bit schizophrenically unmemorable, the material comes across incredibly well in a live setting, so much so that the actual songs they’re playing stop mattering–the real draw becomes the violence that’s created in this band’s destructive wake.

Black: As mentioned before, they know how to put on a damn show. They were the opening downstairs band, which is a tough spot especially for a band whose just starting to find a fanbase in recent times. If anything, the 20 minute appetizer serves more to entice, like a snake charmer, minus the snakes.

Red: Bonus points for not doing the whole “LOOK AT US WE HAVE A GIRL SINGER” thing. Even more bonus points for naming their band after a weapon from Turok 2. Even fucking MORE bonus points for the ultra elephant stomp at the end of their set. What a way to kick off a show.

Red’s Verdict: Eee Pee Oppa Pee, 8.5/10

My Verdict: Would repeat the experience, with more violence.

Red: Following Cerebral Bore’s 24 year party dungeon, I went upstairs in the hopes of catching the first few minutes of Dysentery, but alas, they weren’t on yet and I headed back down to see The Contortionist.

Funny how this shit works, because I had never seen the Contortionist before this year…and their Summer Slaughter appearance was the third time I witnessed their brand of green-friendly spaceprog since this April. This was my personal favorite of their three sets, even though they obviously had more time on their headlining tour. They got 25 minutes, playing two new songs (“Causality” and “Geocentric Confusion”) and two old songs (“Flourish” and “Oscillator”).

Black: If I had my way, I’d have them squeeze in “Contact”, with a hearty rude finger-gesture to the set-times. However, I’d personally never seen them play “Flourish” live, as far as I recall, so that was a tasty treat to take home that night. The new songs weren’t exactly mosh-fodder, but they show how The Contortionist have grown as songwriters, and have nowhere to go but up as far as quality material.

Red: I’ve already detailed Contortionist sets for BMD, so I’ll keep this short–the mix was better, they were tight as fuck, and “Geocentric Confusion” was fucking incredible live, particularly the second half.

Red’s Verdict: There’s No Way The Bassist Wasn’t Stoned, 9/10

My Verdict: For solutions, look to the pipe.

Black: Up next were proud Carcass-worshippers Exhumed, who clearly have a bone to pick with the deceased.

It’s almost criminal to stick a band of Exhumed’s tenure with a 20 minute set, which was just enough for 4 or 5 chainsaw-to-the-face style songs about messing around with unearthed corpses. The audience was mysteriously sparse, despite the band’s history as intense performers despite their frequently shifting line-up. I’m guessing some upstairs band probably offered everyone free water, candy, and sex, thus, that sounded more enticing than a disembowelment. Whatever the cause, a lot of people missed out. After their set I was given the honor to interview frontman Matt Harvey, so stay tuned for that, as it has yet to go live.

My Verdict: Not enough viscera for my liking. More akin to dissecting the long-dead than a fresh cadaver, but it was still fun.

Red: I only caught about three of Exhumed’s songs, so I’m not going to review that, though the three songs I saw were energetic and fun goregrind. Rather than stay for their set, I opted to head upstairs to catch Formless, a local tech-death act featuring internet “sensation” Annie Shred on guitar.

Though they were VERY shreddy (unsurprisingly), they seem to lack a distinct sound of their own, largely aping tech-death champs Spawn of Possession, The Faceless, and Necrophagist. The drummer was the weak link–he messed up noticeably a few times, which appeared to piss off the bassist. Gotta love onstage tension! The harsh vocalist was decent, but far too low in the mix, and Annie’s clean vocals were technically sound but didn’t seem to fit the music. They’re a band with lots of potential, clearly more than most local tech-death acts, but I would venture they’re overly confident in themselves, and fairly naïve in the songwriting department. That said, it was enjoyable watching the guitarists do their dual-shreddage thaaaaang. Give ‘em a few years, and they may emerge as a band to watch.

Verdict: I Mean, I Guess It Was Good For A Local Act, 7/10

Change of pace time arrived with Goatwhore on the main stage. I didn’t mosh for the Satanic drunks, simply because other than “Carving Out the Eyes of God” I’m not that knowledgeable with their tunes.

Black: Here’s a summary of all their songs; two-step riffs, but BLACK METAL.

Red: Looked like a fun pit, though. Oh yeah, just a side note–pits were mad fun all day long because there was a distinct lack of throw-downers. Why? Because there was GOOD FUCKING MUSIC present. Anyway, back to the topic at hand; Satanic drunks, Satanic drunks. Goatwhore’s brand of blackened thrash was fun enough that I’m now going to give their discography an extensive listen–them and Skeletonwitch seem to be the leaders of modern thrash these days, and I’m not complaining. They put on kick-ass live shows, and let’s face it–who in metal doesn’t have a little love for some serious bible-bashin’?

Verdict: Who Needs God When You Have Beer? 8/10

My Verdict: Very meh. But then again, if they don’t take themselves seriously, what with spikes glued on protective sporting gear, should I?

Red: Back to the land of death metal.

Black: Ah, so that explains the acrid odor of burning flesh.

Red: Arizona’s Job for a Cowboy once again put on a class-A show, with all the members giving energetic and inspired performances, playing a handful of their best songs.

The setlist included the false-start of “Entombment of a Machine” into “Embedded”, “Imperium Wolves”, “Unfurling a Darkened Gospel”, “Children of Deceit” and the live monster “Constitutional Masturbation”. I gotta say it, though–for once these guys got the audience they deserved–full of honest to goodness death metal fans rather than core-kids. It’s really pointless for Job to hitch onto a deathcore bill at this point in their career, since it will only piss off the audience when they don’t play Doom material. They haven’t been deathcore since the aforementioned debut EP. Regardless, they were impressive as always, and judging by the pit violence, I’d think it’s safe to say they even managed to convince a few lingering elitist skeptics of their quality. A vicious performance. A top-notch set from a top-notch band.

Verdict: I Guess Children of Deceit Sorta Has a Breakdown, 9/10

Red: I heard way too much of Veil of Maya’s set. Fuck that band.

“To drop that filthy bass, or not to drop.”

They have a few good songs, but goddamn. When you use a computer to program your kick drum so that you don’t actually have to play triplets, fuck yourself. When you can’t play your own songs, fuck yourself. When the above negatives apply to your band and you still call yourself “prog”, DOUBLE fuck yourself. When many of your popular songs are simply variations on the exact same riff you’ve been playing your entire career, fuck yourself. When I find myself wondering about when The Offspring is gonna get around to recording another decent album because you’re so goddamn boring, get the fuck off the stage and let someone with real talent step up.

Black: Even though I really do like Veil Of Maya, and have seen them a couple of times before this, and greatly enjoyed those sets, I’m inclined to agree with Redneck on this one. The sound: Horrid. The breakdowns: Muddy. The bass drops: Like someone dropped an enormous cotton ball over the speakers. Overall, very disappointing set. The songs they chose weren’t even their really good ones, and the main amusement was the sampling of the “browwrrr brrnt, browwrrr der nee nee ner nee nee ner ne” kid. Even the -core kid crowd seemed to be faltering with forced enthusiasm as they tried their damnedest to have fun, so I know it’s not just me that saw VoM struggling to stay on form.

Red’s Verdict: Ass. I got no joke. 2/10

My Verdict: Dishonourable. I choose death.

Red: Unfortunately, when Veil of Maya did get off the stage, they were replaced by an only slightly better band.

Periphery is actually pretty talented musically, but they have a few crippling problems.

Black: Preach brutha.

Red: For one, they fall into the common trap of focusing on technical skill more than songwriting–forgivable in some cases, but not here–I’ll get to why in a bit. Secondly, their vocalist is the biggest pile of steaming horseshit since that American Idol reject released his own record.

Black: Which one? Hohoho.

Red: Like, seriously, this guy just isn’t good at anything. He tries to do menacing harsh vocals, but they come across like a whiny toddler, his voice is so weak. He tries to do powerful (at times soaring) cleans, but they wind up sounding like a worse version of Linkin Park…which is pretty fucking hard.

Black: While I do enjoy Spence’s vocals,  I think pulling them off was the most impressive part of their set. That’s not saying much, as the song choices for the night were rather weak, in my eyes. Had they played “All New Materials”, the bouncy “Letter Experiment”, or even their ballad-esque “Jetpacks Was Yes!”, I would have gotten more enjoyment out of it.

Red: This is where the songwriting issue comes in. Notice how I mentioned that Cerebral Bore had a similar problem with songwriting. The difference is that Cerebral Bore deals more in sounds and feelings than shit that’s gonna stick in your head–they just want to crush your skull in. Periphery aims to write choruses and melodies that refuse to leave your steel trap, but they utterly fail. It’s almost like they’re trying to be something better than they are. I don’t know, but I’m bored writing about them. The lead guitarist should just find another band, basically.

Black: Maybe instead of shelling out cash for big fancy tour buses emblazoned with their faces and Jackson logos, they oughta work on setlists that make one excited to see Periphery, and not just an opportunity to say “I saw Periphery”.

Red’s Verdict: Ohhhh You Know I’m Whining, Baby 5.5/10

My Verdict: Let those emotions hang out, but not too far.

Red: Thankfully, the lame part of the day ended when Periphery finished their set. As soon as the last note of their weaksauce performance, I headed to the floor to get a good spot for The Faceless.

Having last seen them co-headline Summer Slaughter two years ago with Decapitated, I was expecting the world, given that they SLAYED that show.

Black: Up until this point, they’d been slaying more than the eponymous Vikings in Iron Maiden’s song Invaders.

Red: Well, they didn’t exactly give me the world, but it was a decently sexy set nonetheless. They leaned heavily on material from Planetary Duality–a damn near masterwork–playing “Coldly Calculated Design”, “Legion of the Serpent”, and “Xenochrist”, all of which are fantastic tracks. They ended their set on a strong note, with Akeldama’s “An Autopsy”. All this is well and good, and per usual they nailed this material.

Black: In hindsight, their tapping so readily into Planetary can almost be seen as an apology for what was to follow.

Red: The two songs they played from the upcoming Autotheism record left me slightly concerned though. One of the two they played, “The Eidolon Reality” has been out for quite some time, and it’s a fine track in its own right, and when we first heard it over a year ago, it seemed like the perfectly logical direction for The Faceless to go in following Planetary Duality. However, the other song they played, “Deconsecrate”, was…disconcerting, to say the very least. This track has no songwriting to speak of, basically moving between ultra heavy tech-death and SUPER airy clean sections for its entire duration. Flow is nonexistent. It kind of sounds like The Faceless really wants to be Opeth. The death metal sections are fine out of context; they’re your classic Faceless tech-death. Hell, there’s even a pseudo-slam thrown in there. The clean sections, on the other hand, are as fucking disturbing as A Clockwork Orange.

Black: The new album is having us on the floor with the old in-out. Real savage.

Red: Pre-programmed keys and soft drums play in the background while Michael Keene sings boring vocal lines. Michael Keene is an amazing guitarist, no doubt, but shit–he sang more than he played guitar on this song, and let’s be real here. Singing is not his strong suit. His cleans work fine on tracks like “Coldly Calculated Design” and “Sons of Belial”, but on “Deconsecrate” they are far too prevalent and display his weakness in that department. All that being said, this is a show review, not an album review.

Black: That shall come in a little bit, my droogies.

Red: “Deconsecrate” is only one song out of 6-song set…and everything else was of the quality we expect from The Faceless. Also notable is their new harsh vocalist, who performed extremely well–both technically and in terms of leading a crowd. Let’s hope that “Deconsecrate” is just a misstep, because this band is obviously capable of delivering the goods.

Black: The crowd mirrored the apprehensiveness of the band, in a way. There wasn’t quite the same amount of energy, despite the old songs being played down to the nail with their ferocity and (pardon the pun) coldly calculated precision. However, with the recent release of Autotheist and the spotlighting tomfoolery during “Deconsecrate’s” clean sections, it’s clear that Michael Keene has usurped frontman power from the new baldie. If his ego gets any fatter they’ll have the rest of the band play offstage.

Red’s Verdict: I Guess They Ditched the Legion of the Serpent In Favor of the Emotional Metal Guild, 8/10

My Verdict: They’re headin’ down a dark road.

Red: Between the Buried and Me played a set that was essentially perfect, unsurprisingly. Would anyone expect any different from them at this point?

You’ll just keep waiting for them to fuck up.

Really, the only things you can find to bitch about are song choices, and that’s all a matter of opinion anyway. I definitely sprouted half a chub when they came onstage and instantly busted out “White Walls”, their fourteen-plus minute closing epic from 2007’s Colors, a song usually saved for the end of the set. I heard some complaints about there being more material from Colors than The Great Misdirect in their set, but I really didn’t care–I didn’t really need to see “Obfuscation” or “Disease, Injury, Madness” again (though it would have been nice), and “Fossil Genera” was a fucking awesome way to end the set. They played a new song called “Telos” from the upcoming Parallax II record, and it came across well enough to make my half-chub go into full-on woody mode–even if it was obvious that it has some sort of lead in track that was absent from the set. Really, I don’t know how you can complain about Between the Buried and Me’s live show at this point. Even if you’re not a fan of their music, there is no denying that they are at the absolute top of their game, musically and artistically–and they’ve been there for a while, too. Even with legions of imitators, no one can accurately capture what the legendary BTBAM is all about. There’s nothing else to say really, except the band really should apologize to everyone else for being to damn good to compete with.

Black: Ah, sheer radiance, as usual. Unlike the other 6 times I’ve seen BtBaM, I sat in the balcony and watched from above. It’s kind of surreal, watching them do their work while sitting still instead of running around like I’ve accidentally had a hit too much of acid. They had a nice little light-show set up, which I probably would have missed had I decided to punch people during the heavy parts. The set-list relied entirely on long songs, all of them being at least 10 minutes. Having an hour to complete their set, they played “Sun Of Nothing” and  “Spectral Reflections” in addition to those that Redneck mentioned. In all, I need not say more, since BtBaM’s hands down one of my faves, and it’s always a treat seeing them.

Red’s Verdict: All The Vaginas Left After BTBAM’s Set, Dude, 9.5/10

My Verdict: Prismatic bursts of luminous harmony? Sounds nice.

Red: And then there was Cannibal Corpse.

If you think you like death metal, but don’t like Cannibal Corpse, then you’re just lying to yourself. Everything about their live show is fucking brutal bliss.

Black: With nary half a brain to spare between most of the participants in said brutal bliss, one can easily be swept up in the fervor and forget that CC is proud of being the walking Death Metal cliché.

Red: Admittedly, the band has set into a routine with their live shows somewhat, with certain classic tracks being a set necessity and all, but come on. This is a band who has lived through every single change and alteration in the scene, never even coming close to following a trend or doing anything other than playing death metal the way it should be played. With fucking vengeance. They aren’t playing music to you, they’re playing music at you.

Black: Honestly, I felt that way for the first third of their set. I’m not sure if it was just me or if the knob twiddler at the soundboard had some settings up a bit too high. And pardon me if I’m wrong, but “Make Them Suffer” was supposed to be a bit faster than the speed they played it at. Granted, their drummer Paul is recovering from back injuries, so the fact that he’s powering through it at all gets major props.

Red: I moshed fairly viciously to Cerebral Bore, Job for a Cowboy, and The Faceless, but man–Cannibal is the only band that made me go completely insane and smash shit with no acknowledgement of safety for either myself or those around me. My previous 16-year old self may have jumped in the pit for just about any death metal band that played, but I’ll admit that four years forward I’ve slowed down a bit. Cannibal Corpse is one of maybe three bands that can bring me back to that totally insane rage-filled place where no fucks, only beatings are given. This is a band made up of guys as old as my father, so maybe that’s why when Corpsegrinder says he will kill you if you don’t mosh, you fucking believe him. They played the obvious singles from the new Torture record, “Demented Aggression” and “Scourge of Iron”, the latter of which may have been the heaviest song of the entire day in terms of sheer mass.

Black: Ever had a bag of cannonballs put on your chest? That’s what it felt like.

Red: They played both modern favorites (“Make Them Suffer”, “Evisceration Plague”) and golden oldies (“Covered with Sores”, “Born in a Casket”), and they careened wildly through every single one of them. They dedicated “Priests of Sodom” to the women, with Corpsegrinder proudly announcing that if the females failed to scream loud enough, he would find every single one of them, drag them into an alley, and bum-rape ‘em. All in good fun.

Black: Just say yes to fisting.

Red: When the band got to the end of their set and it was time for the ending two-parter of “Hammer Smashed Face” and “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled” there was an air of vicious nostalgia permeating The Palladium. This was the last chance to create chaos, violence and confusion. To bring the bloodshed. The band sure did, and so did we. It was absolutely fucking triumphant to see this classic band absolutely nail a set after 20+ years and more albums than most death metal bands release in an entire career. There is no other band like Cannibal Corpse in metal. Bands come and go, try and fail. If you see them and do not obey every order given, they will kill you.

Black: I’ll be the first to admit I had a lot of fun at the expense of the hare-brained mosh antics perpetrated by the greater collective of Deth Mehtuhl guys in the pits, but there’s no denying that CC touched on some magick formula that, if changed, would be grounds for immediate firing from the music scene at large. Like AC/DC, Motörhead, and Iron Maiden before them, they’ve found a sound and songwriting style that works with an audience of enthusiastic drunken idiots to play it to, and the rest is history. To say nothing of the impossible heaviness they’ve maintained over the years, and being surprised that I’m just now seeing the ‘Corpse in action, I enjoyed every blood spattered minute, if not mainly because the folks that take it to the heart have some of the best mosh faces this side of the Berlin wall.

Verdict: Too Perfect To Be Real. 10/10

My Verdict: They’re ugly, simple, and stupid, just like much of the audience. Ideal conditions for their disease to spread.

By Redneck from Hell and That Black Metal Dude. Your grandmother was a whore.