November 4, 2014 GWAR & Life of Agony takes over Rock and Shock 2014 Worcester, MA 10-18-14 w/ Carnifex, Darkest Hour, Decapitated, Dying Fetus, & Unearth
With one full day of Horror fun taking place up the road at DCU Center, Saturday night at the Palladium was an extremely energized affair on October 18th. Marking the second night at the Palladium, it was guaranteed not only some of the hottest Death Metal bands of today including Carnifex, Darkest Hour, Decapitated, Dying Fetus, and Unearth, but also promised to include Life of Agony and GWAR. With a tense and ebullient mood mounting, patrons rushed in to make sure they were in place for the long night of loud music and vital moshing.
San Diego’s Carnifex opened the night’s festivities with the down-tuned guitars and thundering vocals Death Metal fans crave. Carnifex embraces their sound, making music that they feel is about them, rather than going by any musical label. The result is pure Deathcore. Taking their name from an Old English word for “executioner,” Carnifex took the stage with their patented ferocity. Scott Ian Lewis’s vocals vibrate through the listener’s very core. Drummer Shawn Cameron slaughtered with his powerful, warlike blast beats. Both guitarists Jordan Lockrey and Cory Arford perfected the intense progressions that dropped abruptly with musical brutality. Fred Calderon strummed with relentless density on bass, turning the thumbscrews with every line. Their set included songs from three of their five albums: “Slit Wrist Savior,” “Lie To My Face” and “Hell Chose Me” from before the band’s year long hiatus, and “Dark Days” and “Die Without Hope” from their most recent album, Die Without Hope. Their three week European/UK tour starts at the end of November.
Switching over to a more concordant sound, Darkest Hour took the stage next. This D.C. band has been rocking the stage since 1995, recently releasing their more mature seventh studio album, titled The Human Romance. Vocalist John Henry and Guitarist Mike Schleibaum have grown on their twenty year journey, but that does not mean they have sold out or watered down. As a matter of fact, this maturity suits them, twisting together Thrash, Metal and Punk with a mellifluous sound both heavy and gratifying at the same time. John Henry’s versatile vocal chords can carry any sound the band decides to put out, while Travis Orbin’s drumming picks up and drops off the tempo like a cresting wave. Guitarists Mike Schleibaum and Michael “Lonestar” Carrigan take the cake on adaptability, going from strumming mournful chords to hyperactive, harsh riffs, all in the same song. Aaron Deal slashes through chords like they are carved out of stone. Also touring the UK and Europe this fall, Darkest Hour is not stopping any time soon.
Hailing all the way from Poland, Technical Death Metal band Decapitated kicked the venue back into high gear. Vocalist Rafal “Rasta” Piotrowski churned the crowd up into a froth, his waist length dreads whipping around his head like ropy snakes. Making this commanding music seem almost easy to play, Guitarist Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka, Drummer Michal Lysejko, and Bassist Pawel Pasek have an incredible control over their instruments and the sounds they produce. Lysejko’s blastbeat filled drumming crashed the eardrums like a sonic boom. Kieltyka’s fingers were a blur and Pasek carried them through with an ease most bassists can only dream about. Piotrowski growled and bellowed his lyrics to a sweaty, spastic crowd. Decapitated starts their latest tour for Blood Mantra, their newest album, in the North American Southwest this month with GWAR and Corrosion Of Conformity.
Death Metal band Dying Fetus was up next. Formed back in 1991, this Maryland band shows no mercy when it comes to performing. Rising to fame with their video “One Shot, One Kill” getting airplay on Headbanger’s Ball, Dying Fetus has gone through many changes over the years, with the only constant being Vocalist/Guitarist John Gallagher. Gallagher’s gnarly, guttural vocals caught the attention of GWAR, which lead to a North American tour with the costume-wearing thrashers in 2005. Drummer Trey Williams smashes the kit, his heavy breakdowns crashes through the listener’s senses. Sean Beasley’s bass ties the music together with the tightness of a wire garrote. Gallagher’s complex slam riffs worked the pits up into a flailing soup of skin and appendages. Dying Fetus starts their European tour in Belgium later this month.
Local band Unearth came back home to Massachusetts for Rock and Shock this year. Formed sixteen years ago in Wakefield, MA, Unearth delighted fans with a few songs from their newest album, Watchers of Rule, released nine days after the band’s performance at the Palladium. This blue collar, Metalcore band has toured with Headbanger’s Ball and re-recorded their song “The Chosen” for use in the 2007’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theatres soundtrack. One of the most put-together Metalcore bands of today, Unearth’s music gets in your head and stays there. Buzz McGrath’s and Ken Susi’s guitar riffs are heavy and melodic and they drive the songs more than any catchy chorus ever could. Nick Pierce’s frantic drumming slams into your brain like an adrenaline fueled nail gun. Bassist John “Slo” Maggard never loses momentum, building the songs brick by heavy brick. Trevor Phipps’ howling growls carry out over the crowd as he high fives crowd surfers on their way by the stage. Unearth has a North American tour starting in Pensacola, FL at the end of the month.
Life of Agony
An Alternative Metal band from Brooklyn, NY, Life of Agony stormed the stage over twenty-five years ago and has never looked back. Although they have taken a few breaks, the band members have mostly stayed the same over the years, with only drummer Sal Abruscato coming in a few years later in 1993. Their sound has changed, too – when lead singer Keith Caputo officially started going by Mina, her vocals shifted, going from a Layne Staley-esque bass to a more conventional Janis Joplin baritone. Joey Z. can really make that guitar whine and grind, while Abruscato pounds the kit with abandon. Bassist Alan Robert had not only kept tempo with Life Of Agony, but also performed the night before with Rocking Dead. The most recent break ended up March of this year, and now Life of Agony are planning a European tour, starting in the Netherlands, this December.
Headliner GWAR is an enigma inside a mystery wrapped inside a foam latex costume. The intergalactic space warrior Scumdogs are made up of some stellar characters that revolve around an ornamented, science fiction themed mythology. Formed in Richmond, VA, GWAR has been telling their elaborate story for over thirty years, with various characters from the Slave Pit, such as The Bezerker Blothar, Beefcake the Mighty, Balsac the Jaws of Death, Postulus Maximus and Vulvatron, among others. Known for squirting blood and bile onto their fans from various costumed orifices, GWAR continues to push the boundaries of both music and stage-wear. After the loss of singer/bassist Dave Brockie (Orderus Urungus) this past March, fans were unsure if GWAR would continue, but carry on they did, even going so far as to add a hologram performance by Brockie during their opening number, “Fly Now.” Beefcake the Mighty’s ditty, “Hate Love Songs,” was a highlight of the night. Even Oderus’ Cuttlefish of Cthulu (looking remarkably like a giant penis) poked his head out for a bit. After playing “The Road Behind,” the band offered up a cover of what they call the “worst song ever” – “West End Girls” by the Pet Shop Boys, and then gave us one last shout-out to Brockie with The Jim Carrol Band’s “The People Who Died.” This killer show, filled with music, monsters, and mayhem was exactly the send up that Brockie would have wanted.
The second night of Rock and Shock was a heavy, cagey affair filled with smoke, mirrors, and thunderous music. The tension in the buildup to GWAR’s performance was palpable, cranking fans up into a twisted, sweaty storm of head-banging and crushing mosh pits. Death Metal of every flavor was offered, giving the audience just a small taste of these historic bands.