Special tour report and photo by Mark Gromen
The tour kicked off (March 13th) at the Trocadero, in Philadelphia, with PSYCROPTIC, SAMAEL, SUICIDE SILENCE (the lone non-Nuclear Blast band, with ARSIS dropping off) and CARCASS. It’s a long way from the island of Tasmania to play for just a few people, but Psycroptic have been Stateside before. Straddling the line between death and metalcore, in addition to ‘A Calculated Effort’ off (Ob)Servant, early arrivals got to witness five songs, as Carcass frontman Jeff Walker took in their set from the wings. While first night uncertainties abound, the band did their best to impersonate statues, apart from bearded front man Jason Peppiatt (he of the lengthy quay/ rat tail hairdo). As on record, they ended with ‘Initiate’.
On the smoke-filled, backlit stage, Vorphalack, in floor length “man dress,” led his bunch through seven career spanning Samael tracks. The Swiss contingent preferred to engage in electronic/modulated mayhem, despite the fact ‘Black Hole’, from their upcoming Above album is something of a return to form, ala Worship Him. Rarely have I witnessed a band so frenetic, yet a crowd so static, as the kids had no idea how to handle the slow/syncopated parts. Despite the derisive shouts of an uninformed neophyte, mockingly addressing Samael as DEATHSTARS, apparently unaware tonight’s band pre-dates the pancake made-up clowns by at least a decade, we were treated to the ultra-heavy ‘Into The Pentagram’.
Having seen the reunited Brits at ’08 Euro-fests, I was surprised to see they’d changed the set, even adding songs not performed on the last run through the US (no hints here, go see the show!). Jeff Walker, thrashing/spasmodic guitarist Bill Steer and Mike Amott (I have the sneaking suspicion most had no idea he’s responsible for ARCH ENEMY) played in front of a video wall depicting autopsy /medical examination footage. Even the artwork from their Tools Of The Trade Ep was aired. Although the juxtaposition of serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s eyes, framed by naked female breasts, was a stunningly unsettling visual lost on most. Different versions of the band’s moniker, from the jagged, almost illegible script on Symphonies Of Sickness, to the sterile, block lettering of Heartwork gave hints as to what music would come next. Still loose in execution, it’s amazing how tame the once unintelligible noise is, by today’s standards. Not sure how much longer they’ll be around, so if it comes close to your town, check it out!
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