November 28, 2016 Carcass & Deafheaven Cut Through The Emporium Patchogue, NY 11-20-16 w/ Inter Arma
There comes a time where old meets new, and they unite for something truly unique. Resurging back in 2007 with sold-out reunion shows, British Metal icons Carcass have clearly been re-inspired and are providing a much needed shot to a stagnant Death Metal scene. Currently supporting their impressive 2013 album, Surgical Steel, much more than a nostalgic trip, it taps into the spirit of what made Carcass great, while adding something fresh to the sonic midden heap for which fans love them. Add live shows that still deliver a thrashing of epic portion, Carcass is nothing less than unstoppable. Then there is the more youthful American Metal band Deafheaven, who has steadily risen in popularity with each new album released since their formation in 2010. Combine the two together and it is a classic alliance of east meets west in the form of their co-headlining North American Tour.
A tour which also sees Inter Arma joining on, it kicked off on November 7th and comfortably landed down the 27th, leaving each venue in its path rattled to the core. Bypassing New York City for this run, the Metal smorgasbord found its way marching east toward the village of Patchogue out on Long Island. An unlikely place for such an event, The Emporium proudly hosted the evening of carnage on Sunday, November 20th.
The first band to kick things off was Inter Arma, a Post-Metal outfit from Richmond, Virginia that has built a reputation for a lot of touring and a very intense live set. This American jaunt with Carcass and Deafheaven sees them in support of their expansive 2016 record, Paradise Gallows. Comprised of three members of blackened Metal act Bastard Sapling, including Singer Mike Paparo, the band bled confidence as they launched into their set.
Nearly impossible to define, the band’s cavernous sound filled The Emporium with bursts of Hardcore and Doom, each angular foray into the sprawl ardently led by Frontman Mike Paparo. At times screeching, at others bellowing with bottom-end fury, his throat was matched by a shirtless T.J Childers on the drum kit. Much like sludgy Stoner band Kylesa, the rhythm section of Inter Arma pulses with power. Given to hypnotic sections of rolling drums and jamming instrumental fury, the passion of Paparo and the fierce drumming of Childers kept things interesting for the growing crowd of appreciative fans.
Watching Childers hammer the floor toms as silken riffs teased at the battery like waves licking the rocks of a stony shore went down with beautiful effect. Trey Dalton and Steve Russell handled their guitars with both ferocity and grace, weaving the sounds this transcendent collective has become known for into “Transfiguration,” “Paradise Gallows,” and “Archer In The Emptiness.” Though the set was only three songs in length, the band made it feel like seven or eight – in a very good way! Offering up a little bit of everything, Inter Arma allowed the Long Island crowd to peer into the spacey, ephemeral world in which they dwell. Judging from their response, they very much liked what they saw.
Coming up next were a band who, from their very beginning, caused underground Black Metal to get itself into quite a tizzy. Deafheaven formed in 2010 out of San Francisco, and turned heads a few years later with 2013’s Sunbather album. Influenced heavily by Scandinavian Black Metal, a lack of Satanism combined with a vividly pink album cover attracted hosts of young fans on the cusp of discovering the underground, while turning the stomachs of many a cynical purist. The dark interior of a crowded music venue, in this case The Emporium, would as always serve as a true barometer of what a band is actually made of; Deafheaven clearly is not concerned with keyboard jockeys.
Frontman George Clarke, with his shock of dark hair flipping in and out of his face, wore a jet black outfit and never stood still. His icy shriek populated the blasting parts of songs like “From the Kettle Onto the Coil,” while during the dream-like acoustic sequences on “Come Back” he moved about the stage like a man possessed. The popular “Dream House” was aired out, from the Sunbather album. Its furious pace and Black Metal trappings could not possibly fail to please fans of bands from Emperor to Wodensthrone.
The slower, instrumental breaks between the fast parts might have served to derail the momentum, but the charisma of Clarke made sure that was not the case. His intensity bled out into the crowd, and the riffs provided courtesy of Guitarists Kerry McCoy and Shiv Mehra created walls of tension and anticipation. Whatever one’s opinion of the band’s place in Black Metal is, it cannot be denied that Deafheaven live is a pretty solid affair. Now about a year into the touring of 2015’s New Bermuda, those gathered were clearly appreciative of their efforts on the stage this night.
Luckily for their fans, Carcass has made the trip over from their native England a few times since the release of their marvelous comeback album, Surgical Steel, including Maryland Deathfest in 2013, a tour with Slayer and Testament around two years later, and most recently with Crowbar and Ghoul. Enough times to whet appetites for more, but not overstay their welcome, as American fans often get over-saturated by some European bands, while hardly getting to see others that they love and pine for; such is life in the world of Visas and travel expenses. Carcass, however, has their business in order, and fans who know what is up understand that the revitalized veterans bring 150% effort to the stage every time they play.
This night at The Emporium would prove no different. Backed by their excellent digital stage displays, the band took their places while back-lit by a spherical orb of dissection and surgical tools. Setting the mood to the pathology report, mortuary coldness they created back in the early 1990s, the band took the stage to newbie “Captive Bolt Pistol,” Guitarists Bill Steer and Ben Ash playing tighter than a stainless steel clamp on a patient’s chest cavity. Jeff Walker’s snarl grated, as the plunk of his four-string hammered the crowd down front. Behind them all, Dan Wilding performed on his kit like the rapid-fire ace he is. The leads splattered the ear drums like the squelch of organs falling onto plates during surgery.
“Buried Dreams,” a sinister fan favorite from 1993’s Heartwork gem, elicited a healthy ‘hey, hey!’ chant in its intro. Boy, that album is 24 years old come 2017, and it literally could have come out last week, so well has it aged. So too has Guitarist Bill Steer come through the years well. The man who played on Napalm Death’s debut album, Scum, way back in 1987 was every bit as energetic as the younger Ben Ash at stage right. The double-bass battery had the pit churning, as Carcass hit up one of their finest songs, “Incarnated Solvent Abuse,” from 1991’s Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious album. That evil crawler never fails to go down a storm. The autopsy documentary intro sets the mood like no other introductory device, same as back in 1991.
Much of the middle of the set was comprised of material from the aforesaid Heartwork and Surgical Steel albums. Nary a drop in momentum could be detected, the new material proudly keeping pace with the old, with a synchronicity that is difficult to find among veteran acts. A foray into the elder days allowed Steer to get on the mic, adding his bowel-level vocals to Walker’s screech, as the band plied “Genital Grinder,” mixed it up with a bit of “Pyosified – Rotten to the Gore” before adding a dash of “Exhume to Consume.” The “Reek of Putrefaction” could be smelt by everyone in the hall on this night. Nimble is not the word, as each band member absolutely ripped through each chord, bass line, and drum strike with the precision of a scalpel through tissue.
The crowd chanted once again a rousing ‘hey, hey’ while Jeff wet his throat. Ash and Steer traded solos as adeptly as kids trading baseball cards on a summer day. “Keep On Rotting In the Free World” brought that Swansong era Death-n-Roll to the forefront, the band morphing from their Grindcore roots seamlessly, before diving right back in . . . the intro to “Corporeal Jigsore Quandary” built the anticipation up as Wilding came in on that cool-as-hell drum part – setting the table for the most melodic Grindcore song known to man. “Alright boys and girls, let’s see you bang your heads” prompted Walker. He was greatly heeded on this night, as always.
Wrapping it all up they ended with “Heartwork,” a ripping melodic Death Metal anthem which in of itself basically created the genre. Triumphant, masterful, a Carcass show is never a let down, and fans will wait for the boys from England to schedule another amputation soon.Photo credit: Ken Buglione Photography