Summer Slaughter Tour 2016 – July 29, 2016 – The Chance Theater, Poughkeepsie, NY

Tuesday, 2nd August 2016

Having witnessed the 2013 Summer Slaughter festival and seeing this year’s line-up (the fact that it was in Poughkeepsie certainly sweetened the deal), it seemed high-time that a second round was in order. Many grump and complain each year about the line-up (metal fans are a fickle bunch after all), but one thing is easily mentioned about this year – they definitely kept the “death” in the metal, albeit in a number of different forms.

Starting off the day was local Middletown act Lung Puncture and not a bad way to do it. The “upstate special” as it will – death metal laced with some hardcore trimming – turned things up for the crowd, as a few members of the audience already began to partake in some moshing. Pulled away a few minutes before the end of their set for an interview, hopefully paths will cross again soon.

The first national act then followed, with Enterprise Earth pulling in a number of breakdowns through their set (a trend several more acts would follow), though originality seemed short on the menu. Much of the band’s twenty-minute set seemed like a blur of predictable breakdowns and barked vocals that just failed to leave much of a mark. Unfortunately, Ingested was plagued by some technical issues with the drumkit, truncating their 20-minute set into a 10-minute one. But they played their hearts out for those minutes, providing some technically-laced slamming death that felt entirely too short.

Things shifted back towards breakdown city with deathcore act Slaughter to Prevail, who went so far as to seemingly include breakdowns-within-breakdowns, taking already slow chugs and then further slowing things down to near absurd levels (again with the added fun of predictability). However, their live presence was strong, making the short set entertaining and the younger crowd very much into it.

Veterans Krisiun hit the stage next, which meant that the breakdowns were replaced by blastbeats – many, many blastbeats. Krisiun played as furiously as ever, with the first half of the set going at a frantic pace, and slowing things down a bit in the second half. The band was very thankful to the crowd, who showed some appreciation at the end of their set by giving them the first chant of the night, perhaps hoping for just one more song to extend their short set.

Coming hot off of their recent release, Revocation then proceeded to bring their high-energy death/thrash/etc to the stage in top form. A grand mixture of technical display and just plain fun hooks and riffs, they split their six song set into 3 from Great is Our Sin and some old favorites. Altogether too short, but they made it work – a rise in crowd action for certain, particularly on new cuts “Communion” and “Crumbling Imperium” shows that the band is truly ready for the next step. The band is most certainly ready for some full-blown headlining action.

Interesting at this point to watch the pit crowd in front, as it seemed to change hands as the deathcore and more traditional death metal acts took to the stage, and certainly the younger crowd flocked to the pit as Carnifex jumped on board. Vocalist Scott Ian Lewis definitely stood out with his rather goth appearance (in comparison to the t-shirt or wifebeater tops that made up most of the earlier acts), and had a good command over the stage, instilling many to get involved with the band’s act, be it shouting along “Hell Chose Me” or firing up the pit for a breakdown.

One of the evening’s highlights had to be that of legendary act Suffocation. Not having witnessed the act live in over 10 years certainly added to the flavor/anticipation, for which they did not disappoint. Ripping through some old classics such as “Infecting the Crypts,” “Thrones of Blood,” and “Pierced from Within” with the same passion and energy that they’ve always had only serves to continue their legacy. Seems the rest of the crowd was just as enthused as I, with the pit revving up and plenty of support after each song, even with much of the (excellent) setlist coming from their earlier years. A bummer that Frank Mullen doesn’t tour with them at this point, but Ricky Myers handled the job with plenty of precision and flair.

The last of the ‘core-driven acts of the evening was that of After the Burial. Lots of djenty Meshuggah-isms and breakdowns (of course) commenced, with the band playing with much enthusiasm. Some inspiring words also came from the act, who acknowledged how they were “finishing what they started” by playing Summer Slaughter this year, after the tragic death of Justin Lowe left them unable last year. An admirable way to move past what could easily have been a band-ending event.

Technical difficulties again riddled the stage, resulting in Nile playing a shorter set than planned. However, they put on an impressive display of Egyptian-themed death metal with all members seemingly still quite pumped despite the earlier technical hiccups, tossing a full set’s worth of energy into a shortened one. They ripped through 5 songs, ending with the set’s strongest point, the classic “Black Seeds of Vengeance,” to a sea of moshing and applause.

After a long day of death metal in all of its different incarnations, it was time for Cannibal Corpse to hit the stage. Embarrassingly enough, it’s been 16 years since this writer was able to finally clear out the schedule to see them again, but the wait just made it all the more sweet. No introductions, no chit-chat, no bullshit – Cannibal Corpse hit the stage and proceeded to decimate it. There’s a reason that everyone looks to the band to deliver the goods, and they do it with ease. In fact, they barely stopped for a breath for much of the band’s first few songs (though it may also have been a time-crunch issue), but they didn’t need to either. The sheer presence of the band was enough to put the audience into a frenzy as they went into both new and old tracks alike, from “Skull Full of Maggots” to “Death Walking Terror” to “Kill or Become.”

When the band did stop for a few moments, vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher entertained the audience with some quick quips, with one highlight occurring after someone shouted “Where’s Chris Barnes?” and he answered back with several amusing and snappy remarks. Ultimately a machine of maximum brutality and precision, the band’s 15 song set came to an end just as quickly as it all began, with some additional highlights to be had with “Devoured by Vermin,” “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled,” and of course, “Hammer Smashed Face.” Cannibal Corpse is a death metal institution, and they proved why they continue to be just as relevant today as they were at their beginnings with a set like this one. A top shelf performance! – Kyle McGinn

Hitting the Poughkeepsie, NY area on a prime Friday at the end of the month, the Summer Slaughter tour has been going for a decade strong, featuring the best in the death metal and its sub-genre extensions. We knew we would be in for a long day with doors opening at 2 pm and ten bands in the main outside of one local opener – beyond the fact that the venue has no food options for sustenance outside of a vending machine full of candy and chips, as no re-entries would take place. Protein bars to the rescue…

Middletown, NY’s Lung Puncture started the afternoon off with a quick hitting 25-minute set of old school death metal with hardcore inflections. A power trio, they set the tone for the balancing act between a lot of the younger generation ‘core’ bands and the more death leaning acts that would see saw for the rest of the day and night. “Slam Pig” and “Lung Puncture” gathered approval from the early patrons filing into the venue. Honestly the next band Enterprise Earth from Washington didn’t leave much of an impression, another deathcore group that could have been interchangeable with hundreds of other bands in that breakdown, scream-oriented template. Unfortunately, due to struggles in getting the right kick drum sounds, the next band Ingested would have their set cut to two songs – but what was heard from this UK death metal quintet will make many seek out more of their material.

Slaughter to Prevail would be the next standout act… not necessarily to the good. The singer would come out with a silly Halloween-oriented mask, while the drummer would often hit his double bass pedal so fast that his left foot would end up tapping things out sideways in addition to his normal forward proceedings. Featuring songs from their Chapters of Misery EP like “Crowned and Conquered” and “Hell”, straddling the deathcore/ straight death tightrope pushed more of the former and less of the latter, while the breakdowns got slower and slower, the guitarists stage moves got ridiculously ‘epic’ (taking crab crawls to doom speed levels) as the set drew to a close.

Boston-based Revocation have been impressive throughout their progressive thrash/death careers. Supporting the brand new Great Is Our Sin, the half-hour time slot isn’t for the weak or weary – the band choosing to showcase their insanely delectable abilities while still being catchy enough for plenty of pit action. Highlights include the fastest Revocation track to date in “Communion”, the first video cut “Arbiters of the Apocalypse” and early favorite “Dismantle the Dictator”. New drummer Ash Pearson fits in without missing a beat- speedy, technically as fluid as the rest of the members and also able to propel proper energy and groove if need be. Schooled musicians love the band’s intricacies, and yet they also know how to appeal to the average consumer – the true mark of moving up the ranks in a competitive thrash/death marketplace.

Carnifex signaled a return to the younger audience appeal portion of the show, preparing to release a new album in August entitled Slow Death. The vocalist Scott Ian Lewis wore goth-makeup and had a bedazzled, almost Road Warrior-ish outfit, encouraging a lot of circle pit action from the healthy throng in front of the stage. “Drown Me in Blood” and “Slow Death” may have gotten a lot of response from the teens and twenty-somethings, but again their breakdowns and similar screechy screams/growls left me yearning for food options and staff/security to re-think their no re-entry policies.

It’s been twenty-one years since last taking in the brutal, technical death metal sound of Suffocation – as Pierced from Within is still a favorite to spin in their discography. Guitarist Terrance Hobbs thrashes about like a man half his age (he’s 46), while Disgorge drummer Ricky Myers handles the vocals without missing a beat – appreciative and engaging as one for the crowd to dig into a set filled with classics like “Liege of Inveracity”, “Jesus Wept”, and “Thrones of Blood”, beyond the expected newer material such as “Funeral Inception” and “As Grace Descends”. Bigger pits took place as the band’s place in the death halls remains at the top – there’s a reason why many wish to clone their sound, but can’t quite come up with that specialness to stand shoulder to shoulder to these Long Island, New Yorkers.

Minnesota’s After the Burial came next. Beyond the numerous guitar changes, a strong sense of Korn and Meshuggah turned metalcore penetrated the band’s material. Considering they could have packed it in last year when guitarist Justin Lowe died due to a fall from a car accident, the healing that takes place by moving forward can be felt by their fans. Six hours in, patience for ‘circle’ action from frontmen was wearing thin, as one of the guitarists switched axes numerous times to embellish those brooding chord moments to set up the next slam-filled breakdown.

Nile would also lose a bit of their normal 40-minute set time due to technical difficulties with one of the microphones. As many know, the quartet have three vocalists (both guitarists and the bassist), but the exotic guitar chord sequences against the Egyptian lyrical themes intrigue me the most. When done right, there’s nobody that can touch them – and tonight they really excelled at their game. “Evil to Cast Out Evil” and “Black Seeds of Vengeance” appeased the fans, as active up front as they would be in the balcony.

Cannibal Corpse finished the night as the headliner for Summer Slaughter 2016 – not the first time for the band either. Wasting no time in getting down to business, the first seven songs come and go with nary a breather- and at least no stage patter from George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher. These veterans prefer to just crush through brutality, just what their fans desire in a live performance. Latter as things progress, an unfortunate heckler takes a pot shot at George’s ‘second to Chris Barnes’ status as a vocalist – only to turn things around on the man in question with the classic ‘go listen to another covers album’.

15 songs spanning ten albums in a little over an hour – newer songs like “Sadistic Embodiment” and “Icepick Lobotomy” fit nicely against the expected “A Skull Full of Maggots” or ‘a love song’ as Corpsegrinder put it for “I Cum Blood”. No nonsense death metal reigns supreme, and understandable to see plus hear why Cannibal Corpse should be in a hall of fame for their contributions to death metal. Closing with “Hammer Smashed Face” and “Devoured by Vermin” after much cajoling from the tired and weary masses a little after 11 pm, the Chance had that sweat-soaked look that left people drained yet satisfied, with the band thanking the patrons for their long time support of the death metal genre.

Summer Slaughter spans the death metal landscape for a wide variety of styles, and as such delivered again proof that the genre will not die. – Matt Coe

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Nile on Facebook
After the Burial on Facebook
Suffocation on Facebook
Carnifex on Facebook
Revocation on Facebook
Krisiun on Facebook
Slaughter to Prevail on Facebook
Ingested on Facebook
Enterprise Earth on Facebook
Lung Puncture on Facebook