The Summer Slaughter Tour Morbid Angel, Dying Fetus, The Faceless, Thy Art is Dying, Goatwhore, Origin, et al Skyway Theatre, Minneapolis Sunday, August 3, 2014
You couldn't have picked a better place to hold a marathon metal festival on a summer Sunday than the Skyway Theatre. In its eighth year running, the Summer Slaughter Tour's stop in Minneapolis in the bare-bones venue brought out 1000+ metal fans, and gave things that whole "abandoned movie theater" vibe.
An intense roster of bands set up camp in the main room while the adjacent Studio B cleverly exhibited regional bands with staggered set times. Thus, attendees could catch as much metal insanity as their attention span and ears allowed.
The day kicked off at 2 p.m., and presented 22 bands in nine hours. Arriving mid-marathon, I was able to jump aboard the massive metal train just in time to see technical death metal three-piece Origin on the main stage. "It's been a long day of metal!" shouted lead singer, Jason Keyser.
After pleading with the audience to create a "wall of death" Keyser's voice became more shrill, "It'll continue to be a long day of more metal!"
Origin's sound immediately began to violate the room and the two walls of sweaty bodies from each side of the room came crashing against one another. Like the trash compactor scene in Star Wars, those who were caught in a daze from Origin's unceasing power on stage were now enmeshed in gigantic layers of black T-shirts, sneakers and pure aggression.
Between the performance rooms was miles of merch. Like kids in a candy store, Twin Cities metalheads could peruse every band on the bill's various wares. T-shirts, hoodies, patches, stickers, records, CDs, and black panties with a band logo on them were all available en masse. The space became a real exchange for everyone in attendance to take a break from the constant onslaught on each stage and hang out with several of the various bands.
In Studio B, No Heroes were setting up.
"We are No Heroes and this our first time playing ever," humbly said the patchy bearded lead singer.
Much like their own heroes on the big stage, the local four-piece resorted to hyperspeed bass drums in 2/4 time. Laying a foundation for their singer's gutteral vocals, the band's excellent sludging riffs found No Heroes often taking musical detours amid their drummer's blast beats and eventually toward more hardcore elements. Their virgin performance definitely drew the band's crew and fans into a frenzy that sustained itself through their short set.
One of the more anticipated bands of the day, Goatwhore was up next. The return of New Orleans blackened death metal band seemed to at first leave the audience in a daze. With no mosh pit before them, Goatwhore had its work cut out for them. Highlighting much of 2014's Constricting Rage of the Merciless, singer Louis Benjamin Falgoust directed the band.
"Hate! Hate! Hate!" he growled pounding his fist from his highly adorned arms. In cracking shrieks, Falgoust alternated the tones in his voice like an evil witch telling a story as he swiveled his headbanging with his full body to the charging rhythm.
The crowd roared as he introduced another new track, "Fucked By Satan." Evolving into a sing along, air guitars and devil horns rose up and Goatwhore's progressive insurgency continued to lay waste to the steaming room. [page]
Next door a sparse and desperate mosh pit was firing up. "We're Solar Slaughter from Anoka, Minnesota!" their lead singer admitted. Despite the high school talent show feeling in the room, the young band in D.R.I. and Slayer shirts continued to present their contribution to the local black metal scene.
As if he had just gotten off the bus, in a hooded jacket, C.J. McMahon of Australian deathcore band, Thy Art is Dying had the main stage in hands. McMahon's thoughtful and poetic style of metallic growls took a more moody and contemplative form. A steady mixture of punk and sludging metal sound, Thy Art is Dying gave one of the more satisfying performances of the day, getting the entire room to pogo to the band's math-rock grooves.
"This song is for all the people smoking weed today!" McMahon said introducing "Purest Strain of Hate" and again the band were off with a turbo-charged progression that grew in urgency and with varied screams.
As the evening wore on, Los Angeles technical giants the Faceless continued to pummel the audience. Intense riffs with noodling guitar leads fired against rapid bass drums, the band's strong following wallowed in every minute of their set. Accenting between singing and growling digital effects would further obscure the band's vocals.
The Twin Cities own Thee Massacre had the other room whipped up in a frenzy and eventually Dying Fetus stole back the main stage with an electrified run of progressive death metal from the Maryland power trio.
With the stage set up and a massive logo for Morbid Angel, sounds of howling lingered through the P.A. Massive guitars and layers of smoke gave ambience to Morbid Angel's heavy riffs as drummer Tim Yeung stood above, pulverizing his cymbals leading into the 30-year-old band's exhausting set.
Lead singer-bassist David Vincent kept thinks simple as he introduced each song and encouraged the crowd to keep it up. Strobe lights helped accent the charging chords and the upheval of sounds the metal pioneers relentlessly unleashed on the audience.
"We're going to continue to ruin your day!" Vicent promised. Guitar riffs blended into a mass of tension while Morbid Angel's scorching twin leads and echoing vocals covered all era's of Morbid Angel's career. To the end, the band was highly ferocious -- capping off a truly exhausting day of metal at the Skyway.
Critic's Bias: Definitely had been a while since my last day-long Metal Festival.
The Crowd: Very young and dedicated legion of Twin Cities metalheads. A few from Anoka as well.
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