Friday, March 28, 2014

The 2014 Decibel Magazine Tour: Carcass/ The Black Dahlia Murder/ Gorguts/ Nausea and Noisem @ The Observatory, Santa Ana. 3/25/14.

This tour was destined to rule from the onset. Three of the four bands on the package (Carcass, Gorguts and Noisem) released albums that made my best of 2013 list last year, the other has been one of my favorite live bands for the past decade, and we Southern California blokes got local grind legends Nausea thrown onto the bill as a special regional opening act. This show felt like a late Christmas gift or something.

Noisem kicked things off with a thunderous wall of sound. These Baltimore lads may be young (comprised mostly of teenagers) but seriously, they fucking rip. After a pesky van accident on their very first national tour caused them to miss their last Southern California show, the Noisem boys came out swinging as the first act on this stellar bill. Their old school thrash/ proto-death metal sound coupled with their youthful energy onstage made me feel like I had stepped into a legit time warp. By the end of their set I'd say they gained more than a few new fans.

Los Angeles grindcore legends Nausea immediately followed and brought an air of precision that took me totally off guard. Not that I expected them to be sloppy, I just don't recall them being so locked when I caught them opening for Nasum a few years back. Like last time, the highlight of their set was the batch of Terrorizer songs they played off World Downfall (best grind album ever?).

Next was Gorguts, the band I was most excited to see. They've been gone for more than a decade and returned with Colored Sands, one of the best albums of 2013. I wasn't too familiar with the band before talking with Origin drummer John Longstreth a few years ago when he informed me he would be drumming on their come back album. Well, as fate would have it, Longstreth's commitments to Origin yanked him out of Gorguts before this tour rolled out but luckily, his replacement behind the kit was pretty phenomenal himself. I was curious how the surreal/eerie vibe from the album would transition into a live setting but Gorguts pulled it off masterfully.
The crowd went absolutely nuts for band, with mosh pits and crowd surfing galore. Unfortunately, the band suffered some technical problems toward the end of their set and had to pull the plug on their performance a bit early, which meant no old Obscura material for their die hard fans. Alas. Hopefully they come back before 2024.

Although a popular metal band in their own right, The Black Dahlia Murder were the odd ones out on tonight's bill in the eyes of many. They lack the "old school" and "underground" cred most the other bands on the lineup bathe in so some people scoffed at a hugely popular modern band like TBDM joining the package as main support to the headliners. It's funny however, because the lineage between Dahlia and Carcass is pretty obvious, they borrowed heavily from the melodic death metal framework Carcass laid down on albums like Necroticism and Heartwork. TBDM's vocalist Trevor even has the Tools of the Trade artwork tattooed on his arm for Christ's sake! Either way, I saw no problem with The Black Dahlia Murder's spot on this tour. In fact, judging by the crowd's response it seems like they basically stole the show. It was like a never ending flood of crowd surfing during their set. The security staff was beyond occupied which meant the photographers in the photo pit were getting smashed left and right by human projectiles coming over the barricade. Like last time, the band played mostly all new material from their last two albums which got older TBDM geeks like myself a little butt hurt. They still put on a killer show and seemed to have most everyone inside the venue in the palm's of their hands (the bitter metal elitists probably went for a smoke outside).

Finally, there was Carcass. Metal/grindcore pioneers and the dude's behind one of the great comebacks of recent memory. Their first album in 17 years turns out to be killer and their rejuvenated lineup is powerful enough to appease the jaded old-schoolers and young, extreme metal upstarts alike. I have to admit, I was never a huge Carcass fanatic before their reunion in late 2000's. I was familiar with their work and enjoyed that reunion gig even though half the band was comprised of Arch Enemy, but I gotta say last year's Surgical Steel album and this current lineup is better than anything I expected from the band. Funny story, Carcass' current drummer, the inhuman machine named Daniel Wilding auditioned for The Black Dahlia Murder like seven years ago but didn't get the gig. Now he's in Carcass and headlining above them. Crazy.

Quite the rare show, where I arrived on time, enjoyed every band, didn't get ridiculously sweaty or injured and even bought some merch. Thanks Decibel. You've just guaranteed another years subscription. 

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