It was a typical Friday afternoon in Times Square; the traffic was roaring, the hotdogs were sizzling, performers and people dressed as cartoon character roamed the streets. Yet, there was a hideous black cloud forming in one corner of the area that upon closer inspection was revealed to be a line of black clad headbangers waiting patiently in the warm sun hanging high above Manhattan for the hour of reckoning. Beneath the streets of New York, in the Best Buy Theater, the reek of putrefaction was festering as the third annual Decibel Magazine Tour came to the Big Apple with an all-star cast this past weekend. The "loudest tour in America" this year featured Maryland trashers Noisem, Quebec progressive metal titans Gorguts, Michigan death metal heavyweights The Black Dahlia Murder, and the godfathers of all things gory, deathly, and metal: Carcass.
First up was Noisem, a band whose ear splitting sound certainly lives up to their name. With members young enough to be the sons of the headlining band, Noisem’s unforgiving audio assault that combined elements of thrash and old school death metal, demonstrated that not every teenager is listening to Top 40 radio. While the band may be young in age, the memories of bulletbelts and slam pits generated from their music showed an old spirit living in the hearts of the five members. Younger concert goers were delighted to see a band comprised of members in their peer group while a smile of pride was seen on many a hardened face of the senior attenders of the show.
Since their reformation in 2008, Gorguts has been hard at work making up for lost time following a three year hiatus. Still hot on the trail of last year’s release “Colored Sands”, their first offering in over a decade, Gorguts captivated the audience with ease. Although the name suggests the band is strictly brutal, Gorguts is unique in that they include plenty of progressive sounds reminiscent of Cynic and the later years of Death between layers of heaviness. Ever the humblest of headbangers, members of the band could be seen throughout the halls of the venue taking pictures and signing autographs for joyous fans before and after the set.
It could not have been more than a second or two after the first note to “In Hell Is Where She Waits For Me” when the dance floor turned into a circle pit that was practically a human hurricane. Churning through a stacked set list, The Black Dahlia Murder incited one mosh pit after another through songs from their most recent album entitled “Everblack”, as well as fan favorites “Everything Went Black”, “What A Horrible Night to Have A Curse”, and “Statutory Ape”. A powerful concluding performance of “I Will Return” off of 2009’s “Deflorate” got the crowd energized for the upcoming headlining act. While the inclusion of these songs was exciting per usual, some crowd members were a bit disappointed that The Black Dahlia Murder had not included a single song off their debut album. In one fan’s opinion “It’s not their show tonight, so I guess they picked what they thought would fit this show best.” With a shrug and a small sigh, he continued “Maybe next time we will get some more classic Dahlia (songs) in the set.”
At long last, the speakers of the venue were filled with the notes of “1985”, the instrumental opener of Carcass’ latest album “Surgical Steel”. Apart from the last minute announcement of three New York City show dates following the release of “Surgical Steel”, all of which quickly sold out, it had seemed like an eternity of absence since the last last U.S. tour, and the roar of approval coming from all corners of the venue signaled that Carcass had returned to eviscerate New York once again. Slicing and dicing through an hour long set chock full of old and new material, Carcass took everyone in the venue for a trip through time spanning a decade and a half. The eldest of fans raised their horns to the ceiling for “Reek of Putrefaction”, “Pyosisified (Rotten to the Gore)”, and “Genital Grinder”. Newer Carcass fans were given the opportunity to see some of the latest choice cuts played live, including “Captive Bolt Pistol”, “Cadaver Pouch Conveyer System”, “The Granulated Dark Satanic Mills”, and “Unfit for Human Consumption”. And everyone who knew anything about the band that laid the cornerstone for melodic death metal bore witness to the performance of “Corporal Jigsore Quandary”, “Incarnated Solvent Abuse”, “Heartwork”, and many other iconic Carcass hits.
Throughout Carcass’ set, the dance floor became a killing floor. One by one, those unable to withstand the intensity of the pit either pushed their way out, or were carried out, and halfway through the performance, only the strongest and most seasoned of moshers dared to enter the pit. Those standing on the outskirts of the warzone looked on in awe and fear, each one bearing a look that indicated they were praying that their roundtrip train ticket to the show wouldn’t be exchanged for a one way ticket to the morgue. To balance the overwhelming brutality of the show, bassist/vocalist Jeff Walker took a few moments between songs to tell jokes, share moments of Carcass history, and poke fun at the crowd. “You lot are way too quite tonight” he teased “I’m 45 years old and I’m up here doing this, what’s your excuse?”
For a band that has been around long enough to not only have been a part of the death metal movement of the mid and late 1980’s, but also a pioneer of modern metal, Carcass is “more alive than ever” according to Walker. “I just feel alive, is that so wrong?” he asked the crowd. The responding cheers showed only that age is just a number and Walker, alongside founding guitarist/backing vocalist Bill Steer, and newcomers guitarist Ben Ash, and drummer Daniel Wilding, have only aged with grace. Here’s hoping the Slab Four of Liverpool continue to do so, and the reek of putrefaction fills venues for many more years to come