Hilariously billed as a “child-friendly” event by Inertia Entertainment, the Dying Fetus show at The Opera House ended up being less of a concert and more of an audio endurance test as some of the metal scene’s heaviest bands took turns bludgeoning listeners’ eardrums. Featuring co-headliners Thy Art Is Murder and Dying Fetus, it was a death metal mecca for all involved.
Openers Sanction and Enterprise Earth are cut from the same cloth, both breakdown-crazed deathcore fanatics. It was actually a good showcase of this aging genre’s different styles. Sanction took the bare-bones metallic hardcore approach, while Enterprise Earth wheeled off to the fifth dimension with guitar sweeps and taps worthy of Rings of Saturn. Of the two acts, Enterprise Earth looked to be having more fun. Guitarist BJ Sampson, in particular, was miles-of-smiles as he shredded his way through “Only Hell Will Release The Damned.” Sanction were armed with some bowel-loosening low guitar-tunings, but a slightly repetitive setlist killed some of their momentum. Breakdowns are fun, but it’s always good to have something else up your sleeve.
Rivers Of Nihil ended up performing without singer Jake Dieffenbach, due to problems at the border. In spite of this, the band managed to deliver the night’s most unique and memorable set. Their style truly defies description, managing to cram influences like Meshuggah, Opeth and King Crimson into a single song. There were strong hints of Tool in Adam Biggs’ bass noodlings, as well as Gojira’s later material on the bombastic “Where Owls Know My Name.” Punishing blastbeats gave way to laid-back smooth jazz solos on “The Silent Life.” It was truly magical stuff, and by the time they dropped “A Home” it was clear the band had won themselves a legion of new fans. Rivers of Nihil are a rare death-metal group that manage to turn their own genre on its head, twisting it in ways I’ve never heard or seen before. And they pulled it off without their vocalist!
Thy Art Is Murder have managed to rise to the top of the deathcore pile on the strength of a nearly flawless run of albums, and steady word-of-mouth praise for their live performances. This time last year saw CJ McMahon return to vocal duties, followed by the release of their highest acclaimed release yet, Dear Desolation. Tracks from across the band’s career popped up tonight, as a Grim Reaper-looking CJ incited the crowd to near-riot conditions during songs like “Holy War” and “Coffin Dragger.” The unsung hero onstage had to be drummer Lee Stanton, whose percussion acrobatics were nothing short of jaw dropping. Thy Art Is Murder have never been a band who takes themselves too seriously, as a mid-concert rant about CJ’s love of Drake and a callout to “the hot chick with the sexy curves” demonstrated. Who said death metal can’t be romantic? After a command during “Light Bringer” telling the audience to remove their shirts, any sense of seriousness was gone and Thy Art Is Murder fully raged like the partying spirits that they are. Check out an interview I did with Andy Marsh before the show here.
The amount of bands that have been doing this longer then Dying Fetus can probably be counted on two hands. The Baltimore bruisers have been pounding away for almost three decades, and tonight it showed. Dying Fetus rampaged through thirteen tracks of the purest death metal out there, with each slam reminding everyone in attendance that this is how it’s done. The amount of noise the trio kick up is pretty impressive, and John Gallagher and Co. are some of the most technically consistent metal musicians out there. It’s a shame that some of their mind-bending, bass-tapping sections were drowned out by an overly loud drum kit during the set’s first half. Once these sound issues were fixed, Dying Fetus hit their stride, thrashing through old favourites like “In Times Of War” and newer cuts “In The Trenches” and the aptly titled “Wrong One To Fuck With.” These guys might as well be death metal’s platonic ideal band.
By the end of the night, one thing was clear; death metal is far from dead. In fact, it might be on the verge of a resurgence. There was talent on display at this show from across the last three decades, showing that audiences may never get bored of having their craniums smashed in by some of the most brutal music on the planet.
Written by Max Morin
Photography by Vicki Mahony
*edited by Kate Erickson