Friday, April 19, 2013

Suffocation @ The Vex, Los Angeles. 4-16-13.

Oh, the death metal show. It's been far too long since my last excursion into the extreme metal underworld. Back in the day, I'd spend all my extra cash on tickets, merchandise and gas for concerts, attending two or three a month. Ah to be a carefree youth again. Now I'm older, and poorer, and have different priorities in life...I can't believe it but this was my first metal show of the year and it's mid April!

So Suffocation are back with a new album and new drummer. I've lost count how many times I've seen this band over the years but it really doesn't matter, if you like metal, when Suffocation plays you go. End of story. They brought some rad opening acts along for the ride this time around. California's own Exhumed, Jungle Rot, and up-and-comers Rings of Saturn rounded out the bill. As much as I love Exhumed, I'd say Jungle Rot was the most solid of the tour's openers. Their brand of simple, thrash influenced old school death metal got a huge reaction from the crowd, prompting cheers and mosh pit violence alike. Exhumed was fun, but their sound was thin compared to Jungle Rot and just weren't as tight musically either. Bonus points for the chainsaw/blood and guts routine onstage though. Rings of Saturn...they have heart but really need to practice more. The brand of technical death metal they, try, to play is reserved strictly for the big dogs. Maybe in a couple of years they'll progress to the point where they can comfortably play this style of music but as of now, it just a tad bit too advanced for them.

Enter, Suffocation. The big dogs. After several hours of blast beats, booze, mosh pits and a surprising number of hot girls, New York's finest export took the stage and it was as if none of that other crap had transpired. Instant Men In Black mind wipe. They opened with "Thrones of Blood" off Pierced From Within and I was home again. Standing along the right side of the stage, watching these death metal veterans bashing out old favorites and new songs alike, the audience screaming (and pitting, and stage diving, and...), it reminded me why I got into this crazy metal stuff in the first place. It's just so damn fun. Watching these guys play their brand of "fuckin brutaal" death metal as front man Frank Mullen would say, is like watching a hoard of charging rhino's solve rubicks cubes as they pummel every and all creatures in their path. The music is so complicated, so cartoonish-ly heavy and violence inducing, you can't help but marvel and smile at the end result. Especially when a band can pull it off live as masterfully as Suffocation has been doing for more than 20 years. Their new (old, long story) drummer Dave Culross is a fucking beast of man. He can adapt his playing style to fit all their old material crafted by original drummer Mike Smith (who is rad as hell in his own right) but all the new songs that he wrote (as well as the jams from the Despise The Sun EP from his previous, brief stint in Suffocation) are just on a whole other level.

I'm glad Frank Mullen joined the tour for their West Coast dates. Dude has a family and full time job and can't tour with Suffocation all year anymore. Sure, the dudes they have filling in for him are monsters themselves (John from Dying Fetus, Bill from Decrepit Birth) but Frank IS Suffocation. It just wouldn't be the same without him and his weird faces/onstage rants/awesome NYC accent. Did I mention I love this band?


  1. This show most certainly wouldn't be my kind of thing music-wise but it definitely looks like a heck of a lot of fun man, these shows must be absolutely insane!

  2. Glad the show was epic. It seems kinda insane that your first metal concert of the year came in April but as long as you're still going, and enjoying yourself, you're still not too old.

  3. Yar, that's something neat, if nothing else. Condolences on the first show of the year being in April..but hey, it's better than in May!

  4. Man, I still haven't gone to any show. So you know, lucky you. I'm glad you enjoyed it, I'm just not so glad I wasn't there. It sounds amazing.