I arrived at the Blender Theater shortly as Canada’s AUGURY hit the stage (I’m not sure how ROSE FUNERAL sounded or fared in front of the packed Blender crowd, they could have been atrociously bad or phenomenal, but I’m sure they have a myspace for you to check out).
AUGURY specializes in sweeping guitar runs, overly technical passages, and competent albeit somewhat bland song structures that neither offend or impress. A tour with THE FACELESS would be ideal, as both bands keep their performances extremely stiff, yet tight, setting up an evening of music appreciation as opposed to rocking out in any way. Drummer Robin Stone of THE AMENTA filled in admirably on the kit filling in for the recently departed Antoine Baril for AUGURY and the band managed to be unimpressive yet solid at the same time.
Up next was THE AMENTA from Down Under making their U.S. tour debut. Offering up industrial-tinged blackened death, the Aussies blasted their way through material from their excellent Occasus debut as well as offering up some tracks from follow up, n0n. Vocalist Cain Cressal does the psycho singer thing well, contorting his face in any number of weirdo positions as the band plowed away through their set.
WARBRINGER arrived next much to the delight of numerous pre-pubescent attendees who have no interest in “the old man thrash” sounds of classic bands such as DARK ANGEL, SLAYER, or EXODUS, and have instead opted to be wowed by a band stealing riffs from the aforementioned. Nevertheless, WARBRINGER received strong support as the kids chanted the band’s name with great enthusiasm. While I’m still not 100% sold on their “Johnny-come-lately new thrash on the block” sound, the band has improved significantly since their early tour with NILE, and kept the crowd rocking throughout their short set.
Santa Cruz, California isn’t known for being a hotbed of death metal talent, but ambassadors DECREPIT BIRTH made a strong case for the SC scene as they unleashed a strong set of punishing tracks that flip flopped between material from As Time Begins and Diminishing Between Worlds. Unlike some tech-shred bands that focus entirely on out-teching one another (and in the process lose some grit), DECREPIT BIRTH keeps the fury intact, balancing intensity with technical skill. Charismatic frontman Bill Robinson (who looks more like a member of BUZZOVEN than a death metal singer) kept the audience engaged as the band continued their onslaught. They even previewed a track that they will be on their next album, but unfortunately the title escapes me as it was mumbled by Robinson. Nonetheless it offered up a nice preview of what’s in store from this promising band next year.
Poland’s VADER finally arrived on the scene, and despite the seemingly endless amounts of line-up changes throughout the band’s career, frontman/guitarist/mainman Peter has soldiered on. And for this tour at least, he brought along the very capable Vogg from DECAPITATED.
Despite some shaky sound issues with the venue, the band worked through the classic “Sothis,” with Vogg being able to adjust and nail a lead shortly after a frantic roadie handed him his replacement guitar in mid-song. “Rise of the Undead” from their new Necropolis album kept the proceedings moving along nicely. The band unleashed a plethora of classics from the deep VADER catalog. “Wings,” “Carnal,” “Silent Empire,” “Black to the Blind,” all turned Manhattan into a pit as the band methodically and surgically drove the point home. Apparently Peter had been battling sickness, but based on his fluid solos, crunching rhythms, and throat-scraping vocals, you’d never know the difference as he and band delivered the metal goods with nary a misstep. But Vogg was the highlight of the show as he ripped through the leads like a man possessed , boding well for the future of DECAPITATED. VADER closed out the set with “Dark Age” before heading in to a mini-encore with tracks from The Art of War EP .
Once again, Vader displayed why almost 30 years later, they still deliver the pinnacle of Polish death metal and still possess enough firepower for many more killer tours down the road.