Suffocation, Kataklysm, Jungle Rot – October 8, 2014 – Altar Bar, Pittsburgh, PASaturday, 11th October 2014
Strangely dubbed the “Carnival of Death” tour, a moniker that was most certainly used in the early 00’s when nu metal was all the rage, the pairing of Suffocation, Kataklysm, Jungle Rot, Pyrexia, and Internal Bleeding provided a sort of mini Summer Slaughter, if you will. Then of course, there were two local openers slapped onto the bill, upping the total to seven bands with a 6:00 PM start time on a weekday…sheesh. (Even the teenager version of DR would have difficulty with such a long lineup in a condensed amount of time.)
Having missed the two local openers, Victims of Contagion and No Reason to Live (the latter of which who may or may not feature a bunch of dudes this scribe used to play with), the slam-happy action of Internal Bleeding certainly didn’t provide much in the way of visuals (read: short-haired older dudes), but their moshable, instant blend of New York death metal (a recurring theme for the night), coupled with cuts from their first album in ten years, Imperium, provided some of the evening’s more brutal moments. The same couldn’t be said for fellow New York running-mates Pyrexia, who even with the aid of Internal Bleeding vocalist Keith Devito for one song, (note: Devito also did time in the band) suffered from a poor sound job, and didn’t land very many of their simpleton chunk-down parts.
Far and away the most simplistic band on the bill, Milwaukee’s Jungle Rot are probably the best-suited for the live arena. Touring in support of their 2013 Terror Regime album, the band were the first to receive any sort of appreciable crowd reaction, as the swelled dude-to-chick ratio found suit to mosh, push, and shove during the meaty happenings of “Terror Regime” and “Worst-Case Scenario.” In fact, Jungle Rot are a bit of an odd phenomenon – a rare band whose overriding degree of basic death metal translates as well in the live environment as it does on disc. In respects, Jungle Rot are the American Bolt Thrower. Surely the band would be fine with such a comparison.
Canadian hyper-blast veterans Kataklysm were up next, making their first appearance in Pittsburgh in ten years. As evolved and straightforward as the band’s sound has become, there’s still a degree of technicality and recklessness to be found, especially when drummer Olivier Beaudoin gets a-moving with those patented blasts. But, the Canadians are still about the song and choruses, whether it’s on the enduring “Illuminati,” newer “Animals,” or even the venerable “Shadows and Dust.” And being that this tour had a slightly nostalgic bent (as admitted by all parties involved), Kataklysm even dug back into their first album, Temple of Knowledge for a song, although DR missed the name of said song thanks to conversation with one of the numerous drunkards in attendance. However, no Canadian death metal band packs as much bang for the ‘ole buck in the context of song-oriented death metal. Plus, the frontline of vocalist Maurizio Iacono, guitarist J-F Dagenais, and bassist Stephane Barbe still headbang like it’s 2004. Don’t ever slow down, Kataklysm.
An 11:00 PM (or so) start-time for Suffocation was really pushing it for some, prompting a minor portion of the crowd to duck out early. DR was almost an exception to this, making it through the band’s first half-dozen songs. Benefitting from the best sound of the night (and rightfully so), Suffocation have a more versatile catalog than meets the eye. Frankly, some of their reformation cuts like “Dismal Dream,” “As Grace Descends” and “Purgatorial Punishment” have as much gusto as veteran, indomitable jams such as “Effigy of the Forgotten” or “Catatonia.” Plus, watching frontman Frank Mullen twitch and make utterly-animated faces is sometimes worth the price admission. In close second is Terrance Hobbs’ skullet + glasses combination, the ultimate in “I play in a classic death metal band, so I don’t give a fuck.”