Deathwish Fest Day 2: Live At The Middle East, Cambridge MA


deathwish fest

 

The first annual Deathwish Fest was met with a ton of enthusiasm from hardcore and metal fans far and wide. Set in Cambridge MA, at the legendary Middle East Night Club over two days, near the home base of Deathwish Inc. (Records), it was a near immediate total sell out, before changing venues. Headlined both days by Converge and Trap Them, Day One also featured Cult Leader, Doomriders, Blacklisted, Modern Life is War, Self Defense Family, and Harm Wulf. Picking up on Day Two with the review is our own Sean Pierre-Antoine.


I was almost certain I wouldn’t make it to Deathwish Fest since tickets kept selling out mere minutes before I could get online to buy them when I had the money to. And by the time tickets had run dry, I was too financially disadvantaged to even fathom attending, and thus I thought my life was spared from the madness sure to unfold during this showcase of the best that Deathwish Inc. -run by Jacob Bannon of Converge- has to offer to our perpetually rotting world of pain. Luckily, a friend/musical collaborator scored a couple of extra tickets from someone at non-extortion prices, and long story short, I didn’t have to see Devourment instead that night. I hear they were kind of disappointing anyway, but we’re not here to discuss the merits of something I didn’t attend. These are the facts.

Unfortunately I ended up missing the first handful of bands because I was not in possession of my own ticket. Poor planning on my part, and my benefactor being a little later than planned factored into my not catching Boston’s most negative wrecking crew in New Lows, Harm Wulf, a project run by George Hirsch of Blacklisted (celebrating the birthday of Robby Redcheeks), and what I have heard described as “Deafheaven if they were hardcore”, the angular Oathbreaker. No matter, as I have seen and caused my share of mayhem during NL, am unfamiliar with Harm Wulf and Blacklisted, and I’m sad to admit, but Oathbreaker just doesn’t pique my interest.

I was, however, quite interested in catching North Carolina’s YAITW (mercifully short for Young And In The Way), a mixture of Cursed style hardcore/crust/sludge and the most cruel black metal their side of the Mason-Dixon Line, drawing from the legendary Mayhem, among others. For three years they have done this, and for three years it has been good, for there was equal amounts headbanging to the sections that were reminiscent of Norwegian masters, and hardcore pit thuggery that reminded you of their Deathwish heritage. With Black Metal and Hardcore imagery becoming ever more intertwined in a morass of inverted crosses, endless images of our beloved moon in varying states of decay and occult significance, and desolate wastescapes dispensing of all colour schemes in favour of nihilistic monochrome, is it any small wonder that a band like YAITW is here to fill the void our souls once inhabited before we picked up out first Misfits record?

 

 

Next up were the Louisville delegation, Coliseum, fronted by artist extraordinaire Ryan Patterson, who has penned album and merchandise designs familiar to anyone into hardcore with a sludgy bent, which is, coincidentally, the kind his crew plays. I really do want to like this band more; they simply fall into the same camp as their peers in Doomriders, who have killer imagery and a respectable mix of sludge, hardcore, and good old fashioned home-cooked rock’n’roll -I call it ‘rock’n’core’, spread that term if you want-, but unfortunately the music just doesn’t get me excited in that visceral way, and I see that as a huge impediment to their appeal. It’s no fault of theirs, as they do wield riffs massive as the hands of a bearded giant, and their tempos are certainly foot-tapping enough to keep them out of the ‘smoke break band’ category for me, but even during their most rousing songs, the crowd moved nary an inch except to either nurse their drinks or socialise while the band dutifully chugged away on stage for the whole of their set.

 

Trapthem (6 of 21)


Blood stayed at a low boil until hometown heroes of Boston Hahdcoah, Shipwreck Ad took the stage for what was one of the shortest but also more fulfilling opener sets of my show-going career. Packing in only three or four songs of intense East Coast hardcore the way only witnessing Lansdowne Street on Game Day can provoke, this rare but special appearance was quite a treat for those both familiar and not. Being gentlemen and not overstaying their welcome, they allowed Salem, NH/Seattle, WA hardcore polymaths in Trap Them to perform their evil works unimpeded. For an unlucky 13 years, Trap Them has been a caustic fusion of face-fucking grind, low-fi crust, and dizzying metalcore, topped off with that infamous murky Swedish deathsludge guitar tone. Consistently potent and amusical in its hateful delivery. Opening with a new track entitled ‘Salted Crypts’, which is just as negative as the material before, this band shows no signs of ever brightening their musical worldview, and perhaps it’s best/worst if they keep it that way. Whether their assault is a dirgey 3-4 minute long breakdown interspersed with ear-piercing feedback, or tumbling down a mountain of human skulls at breakneck gallop speed, I felt my lips peeled back in a perpetual, hateful snarl that just wouldn’t disappear until each song, or rather, nihilistic sermon, was over. Is it really true what your parents say about rock’n’roll making you evil?

 

Converge (10 of 14)

 

By the time the night’s honorees in Converge made it onstage, you can guess I was already a little tired from the earlier acts, because one has to get their money’s worth. It is with great pleasure that I may now announce that I survived Deathwish Fest without injury. The boys opened up with ‘Dark Horse’, and comboed immediately with ‘The Broken Vow’ and ‘Aimless Arrow’, which ensured that few lungs were left unshredded even in their first few minutes. The nightmare in summary; ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ roared past in what seemed like merely a minute when in reality it is four; ‘Axe To Fall’ crushed like a fallen monument upon the helm of a once grand civilisation; ‘Drop Out’ crept in and out of the shadows before disappearing in a flurry of semi-melody; ‘Trespasses’ and ‘Last Light’ reached out to crush the exposed and wounded hearts of all who can identify with the countless disappointments that Converge’s lyrics detail in resplendent tortured aesthetics. Joined onstage by Stephen Brodsky of like-minded metalcore pioneers Cave In, the band ended their set with a special encore of ‘Plagues’ leading into their celebrated 9-minute epic from No Heroes, the coveted ‘Grim Heart/Black Rose’, for a rare performance. God, if you exist, cross out my curséd soul; it would bring me to tears were I hydrated enough.

 

Converge (1 of 14)

 

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Deathwish Inc on Facebook

WORDS: SEAN PIERRE-ANTOINE

PHOTOS BY MEG LOYAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Septicflesh – Fleshgod Apocalypse – Black Crown Initiate – Forced Asphyxiation: Live at The Middle East Downstairs

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On the same night in Boston when nearly a hundred people were hospitalized due to intoxication and drug overdoses at a trance show, the crowd at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA could only complain of short show. After a trade in bands and another band not appearing at the Cambridge stop, The Conquerors of the World Tour came down to just 4 bands: local opening band Forced Asphyxiation, mid tour replacement, Black Crown Initiate, co-headliner Fleshgod Apocalypse, and the masters of symphonic death metal, Septicflesh. After hearing that Necronomicon would not play on this night in Cambridge, the Middle East staff had the downstairs emptied and an hour was killed off as no replacement bands could be found on short notice. As some fellow metal heads in line were a little disgruntled over this news, the bill tonight would surely make up for this slight inconvenience.

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Starting the night off first was local band, Forced Asphyxiation. A “classic” death metal band with lyrics that ranged from smoking some sweet ganja to having an epic fight back in the medieval times. Small pits opened up from time to time to show appreciation for the band’s appearance as the Cambridge crowd was getting into the band more with each song. Unfortunately, Forced Asphyxiation’s set was shorter than most were hoping given the delayed start of the show. However, I am certain that for those locals who had not heard of this band before, became fans after this set. Next up was one of my most eyebrow raising bands of the night, Black Crown Initiate.

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Having taken over for Hour of Penance on this tour, Black Crown Initiate had quite the shoes to fill, and personally, I think they overfilled them. For those who may not know of BCI, and I was one of them, let me explain what this band sounds like. A melo-death band that plays with djent beats, a death metal lead vocalist with some of the deepest growls you’ve ever heard, and then topped off with jazzy sections and clean vocals from their bassist. I spent most of BCI’s set trying to come up with that sentence as I would lose myself in each song’s complex structure. It was extremely hard figuring out when one song would end and another would begin as each song would smoothly transition to the next. When done right, in this case it was, it can make for quite an experience both in a studio and, a little more challenging, during a live show. I am making it a personal goal to see BCI the next time they come to the Northeast US area as they had certainly left their mark on this warm June night.

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Next up on this great night in the heart of Boston was the six piece from Italy, Fleshgod Apocalypse. After hearing of this band a few years ago, and the hype that followed them, I made it a goal of mine to get around to listening to them. Up until this night, I failed miserably. Having said that, I think it was a good thing as this band literally made my jaw hit my sternum on a multitude of occasions. Coming into this show, I understood they were, as some put it, “a lot like Septicflesh.” The death metal outlook, orchestration, piano, and some operatic vocals immediately came to mind, but still I underestimated Fleshgod Apocalypse. All of the members of the band were dressed in old orchestra clothing that had been ripped and tarnished. Each member came complete with a very tasteful corpse paint, and when I say corpse paint I mean they looked dead with pale faces and dark sunken eyes, not trying to impersonate Kiss. Lastly, the two guitarists and bassist each had designs on the bodies of their instruments that made them appear to look like classical instruments with the wooden color and black clef marks. Each and every song that came out of the amplifiers and entered my ears continuously made me so angry that I never got around to listening to this band prior. Songs like ‘The Hypocrisy’, ‘Elegy’, and ‘Pathfinder’ had me itching for more and more as the set moved along and the crowd grew more and more hostile. The night for Fleshgod Apocalypse ended with the amazingly epic closer, ‘The Forsaking’, which left all wide eyed and mouths wide open in amazement at what they just witnessed. At one point, I turned to a friend of mine and proclaimed that I would go home, destroy my iPod, and start over with this band being the first to be uploaded. Just when I thought this night could not get any better, it was time for the main event.

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The foursome from Greece known as Septicflesh was here and ready to destroy what was left of the Middle East. Having just released their newest album, Titan, I was hoping for a few new songs and then a few goodies off of the past two releases. When the orchestration hit marking the beginning of ‘Vampire From Nazareth’, I knew we were in for a good night and so did the rest of the crowd behind me. The symphonic death metal gods played a great selection including: classics from Communion like ‘Anubis’, ‘Lovecraft’s Death’, and ‘Persepolis’ to favorites from Great Mass like ‘Pyramid God’, ‘A Great Mass of Death’, and the closer, ‘Five-Pointed Star’. The Cambridge audience was also blessed to hear two new tracks, ‘Order of Dracul’ and one of my favorites, ‘Prototype’. I was impressed to see how far Septicflesh have come in popularity these past few years as finally at my third show, this being the second headlining spot, the fans in attendance actually knew who they were. This time around, everyone around me knew most if not all of the songs and the accompanying lyrics to said songs. These guys have worked so hard to reshape themselves into the well oiled machine they are now and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Overall, this tour did have its changes and last minute cancellation/delays, but I was more than pleased to have been in attendance. One of my favorite bands today, Septicflesh, has started to receive the attention they deserve, Fleshgod Apocalypse smacked me right in the face for never listened to them prior, and Black Crown Initiate made a stand with their very unique style. I also can’t forget local openers, Forced Asphyxiation, now having seen them a second time since their opening spot with Aborted a few months ago, they have gained a fan in me! If you have yet to get out to this tour and a stop near you is coming up, I highly recommend you get a ticket, bang your head until your neck hurts, buy some merch, and enjoy one of the best shows you will see all year.

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Septicflesh Set List:

The Vampire From Nazareth

Communion

A Great Mass of Death

Order of Dracul

Pyramid God

Unbeliever

Prototype

Lovecraft’s Death

Burn

Persepolis

Anubis

Five-Pointed Star

 

Septicflesh on Facebook

Fleshgod Apocalypse on Facebook

Black Crown Initiate on Facebook

Forced Asphyxiation on Facebook

 

WORDS BY TIM LEDIN

PHOTOS BY CWS PHOTOGRAPHY