Webster Hall has long been known for bringing in mainstream acts and hosting lavish dance parties, but fortunately for the metal faithful, who crammed in to the small darkened recesses of the joint (The Studio) there would be none of that as one of New York’s longest standing underground legends IMMOLATION played a rare NYC club date as the band prepares for their tour with VADER.
Upon arriving in the dark basement of Webster Hall, I witnessed openers DISMA, a last second addition to the show. Featuring ex-members of INCANTATION, and members from a slew of veteran underground bands, I had high expectations for the band, but sadly the performance and overall delivery was a bit bland. The sound didn’t help matters as it was pretty blurry and wasn’t particularly powerful. The band offered slow, plodding material much in the vein of INCANTATION and our evening’s headliners, but the songs weren’t especially memorable, and the heat of the venue only made the performance that much more sluggish.
Following up after DISMA came the sleek, polished sounds of ARSIS. Upon graduating from delivering DEATH-inspired material, Jim Malone and company have since opted to lift the shredding skills of CHILDREN OF BODOM, (as heard on their new album Starve for the Devil) making them an oddball choice for this show. After nearly dozing off several times during the previous set, the band’s hyper active noodling and busy fret work actually lifted the energy mode a bit. They had several of their fans out there pumping their fists with great enthusiasm as the band delivered several of their numerous crowd motivating anthems. IMMOLATION fans weren’t as easily sold, but begrudgingly declined to taunt the band of fret burners. The sound was also bad for them making it difficult for their songs to really cut through, but the band soldiered on well enough.
Finally the hometown (by way of Yonkers) heroes arrived unleashing “The Purge” from their latest effort, Majesty and Decay, before releasing spot on renditions of Unholy Cult and World Agony. Fortunately, the sound was finally crystal clear and cut through with great clarity as Bob Vigna‘s guitar acrobatics, disjointed, dissonant riffs and leads squeezed the life of any Christian foolish enough to venture in the vicinity. Bill Taylor‘s riffage perfectly complemented Vigna‘s organized chaos with an underlying crunching drive, and octopus-like drummer Steve Shalaty‘s intricate complex drum patterns kept the rhythm alive and pounding. Let’s not forget Ross Dolan‘s bludgeoning bass lines and throat scraping growls eithe, as the frontman was menacing throughout the set, but equally humble when expressing gratitude towards the fans for their 25 years of support. IMMOLATION focused a decent amount of time on tracks from their killer new Majesty and Decay album, delivering the title track as well as “A Glorious Epoch.” Classics from the band’s substantial catalog were brought out for the occasion as well, including “Burial Ground” from their debut, and “Father You’re Not a Father” from Close to a World Below. The band mixed and matched various tracks from their extensive discography before closing it out with a blistering version of “Passion Kill.” Another convincing performance from these death metal greats, easily wiping away much of the shred-first songs later mentality of most of the new death metal acts out these days in one quick and deadly blow. If you couldn’t make it out for this one, make sure to catch them on their tour with label mates VADER later on in the Fall for a textbook performance in death metal ass-kicking.