The Bungalow in Manchester, NH. Not the first place I would think of to have a death metal show, much less an indoor venue with two stages not even 25 feet apart from each other, with a slew of local openers, six in total. So let’s dive right in.
Unfortunately, I missed the openers due to trying to get out of work in order to get to the venue at all. I did manage to catch the headlining local band, Conforza.
Manic, precise, punishing. That’s about as simple of a review as I could do. They had a super tight set on the second “stage”, really just the lounge area near the entrance of the venue. But that being said, it was a worthwhile set that was not to be missed.
On to the main event, the poster lineup of the Bloodletting Tour. First up, Within Destruction!
Having never heard of this band before, I only had my guesses to go off of. But seeing that the rest of the tour was a sheer death metal buffett, I could assume it was going to be an entertaining to say the least. Within Destruction. Death Metal and… confetti?
Yup, you read that right. Confetti. Not what you’d expect but everything you’ve wanted without knowing it. They came roaring onto the stage with a pretty tight set, involving growls straight from the belly of Satan himself, all the way to pig squeals that rivaled a dog whistle. Musically, I dug it quite a bit. They closed out their set by bringing up one of the vocalists from the next band, Angel Maker, up on stage.
Angel Maker. My personal highlight of the night. Two vocalists. High energy. Damn near frightening stage presence… spitting hot bars!? Yeah, this group seriously impressed me. Like, way more than I was expecting! Having heard what half of the vocalists sounded like from jumping on the stage during Within Destruction, I assumed that the second vocalist would be doing duel vocals for the band. Dear God, was I wrong. From the moment I heard him open his mouth I realized what I was witnessing, a mashup of death metal and slam. It’s like chocolate and peanut butter, but a lot louder.
Mosh pits, yes plural, which is mighty impressive considering the size of the floor in front of the main stage is a little bit smaller than my bedroom, ensued for the entirety of the set and left my exhausted from simply watching it from the sidelines. But seriously, if you want new music in your life. And let’s be honest, if you’re reading this… you do, go listen to Angel Maker’s debut album, “Death Wish”
Pyrexia, oh Pyrexia. What do I say about these fine gentlemen? How about this… An in your face, brutal family affair. The vocalist, who looked surprising a lot like a 40-year-old version of myself from 6th grade had a voice that could possibly hit the elusive “Brown Note” but in this case, probably more of Brown Growl. The bassist really stuck out to me amongst the band in terms of being able to keep the rhythm going among the chaos of their set.
But the true highlight of the set was the “dance contest”. Really more or less a way to spread the word of their new album, “Unholy Requiem”. To quote vocalist Jim Beach, “Dance contest during the next song! I’m gonna be out on the floor during this next song and whoever is moshing the hardest will get a copy of our new CD!! Aaaaand GO!” Chaos ensued. You offer free stuff to anyone, they’ll listen and abide. Music junkies and metal-heads are no different. They closed out their set with Jim bringing his younger brother, Ian, up on stage to finish the set with the announcement, “I’m getting too old for this shit guys. This is my younger brother Ian, he’ll be finishing up the tour for me with the rest of these guys up here. Make him feel at home!!!”
Internal Bleeding… my soul was not ready, but at the same time, it was.
Having only ever heard the name and seen their logo before I knew two things.
1) They were going to be quintessential death metal and
2) They were as old school and comforting as apple pie, that may not make any sense now but hear me out.
Admittedly, I’m not an enormous death metal fan. I like a few bands here and there (Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, etc.) but it’s not where I lay my Spotify account to listen on the regular. That title belongs to thrash metal. BUT, remember how I said Internal Bleeding was old school and comforting a few sentences ago? Well, here’s what I mean. While death metal may not be what I listen to on the regular, IB managed to gain a fan this night. I felt right at home, they had to punch-in-the-gut intensity and heaviness of Cannibal Corpse and the bounce and energy of thrash (almost akin to early Kreator). Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed a band that I wasn’t expecting to.
And on the headliner… Arsis! Bit of a backstory, Decrepit Birth was supposed to be the next band on the bill. But, as I’m sure you may know, Bill Robinson, [attempted] a stage dive at the Arizona stop of this tour a few weeks back and no one caught him and he proceeded to fracture his femur and subsequently had to drop off the tour a week before the NH date as they couldn’t find a replacement vocalist in such short time that would do the fans of the band justice to see them live.
Now on to Arsis! They came roaring onto the stage in a very loud and tight fashion. Their frontman/rhythm, James Malone, wasted no time getting right into the chaos that was this show. Opening up with “Tricking The Gods” and “Maddening Disdain”, what was left of the people at the show after Internal Bleeding (I could tell that IB and Decrepit Birth were the favorites among the fans) lost their minds, but nonetheless, Arsis put on a killer set. Playing mostly an old-school setlist.
The 2018 Bloodletting Tour: it was pouring rain out the whole time, it was cold outside, and a hot sweaty, loud mess inside. Well worth the rain and traffic to get there!
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY CHRIS SMALL/CWS Photography