Dying Fetus/Thy Art is Murder – March 15, 2018 – The Chance Theater, Poughkeepsie, NYMonday, 19th March 2018
Cutting into the death metal market from seemingly all sides is the current Dying Fetus and Thy Art is Murder co-headlining run. Hitting its first stop of a 5-week tour across the US (with one Canadian date in there) in Poughkeepsie, the grouping of slam, deathcore, progressive, etc is one that should make for some good crowd diversity. Such were this scribe’s expectations, which were well-met as The Chance began to fill with extreme metal fans.
Up first was the only local band on the billing, Nothing Remains, who began warming up the crowd with some of the ‘upstate special,’ meaning death metal laced with some hardcore for good measure. The type of sound that has always found a way to thrive in this area, and Nothing Remains was enjoyable enough as they ripped through their set with a good sense of humor and energetic performances. Next up was Long Island’s Sanction, who brought forth the night’s first foray into deathcore/metalcore territory. However, Sanction provided plenty of energy, and their personal take on the genre was one in which the breakdowns where deserved. Altogether brutal, the band left a strong impression, particularly in their ability to zip around the stage (especially their vocalist), and provided a solid reminder that the genre still has some life left to be found in it.
Rivers of Nihil served up the most different sound of the evening, with progressive death metal without a trace of ‘core to be found. The band played two tracks off of their now-released Where Owls Know My Name (“A Home” and “The Silent Place”), which played quite well. There’s just enough heaviness to please the live crowd, but plenty of intricacies and nuance for those who want to investigate further. The band rounded out their set with three older tracks (“Rain Eater,” “Reign of Dreams,” and “Sand Baptism”). Each time I’ve seen Rivers, they’ve seemed like a stronger and tighter band, and this was no exception. While a longer set would have been appreciated, with the current push of Owls, it’s only a matter of time before they are at top billing.
Reverting back towards deathcore, Enterprise Earth was the last of the support acts. A perplexing placement for this scribe, with their brand of deathcore seemingly almost by numbers – one could anticipate just about every movement and change (not to mention breakdown) to the point where the songs more or less blurred together. A slew of breakdowns encouraged a lot of pit movement by their fans, but ultimately left this scribe completely cold with their textbook-esque performance, even down to the hoodie-wearing vocalist engaging in plenty of faux-tough guy poses while growling near-incoherently.
The first of the co-headliners, Thy Art is Murder, emerged with a much more fascinating performance than one would have thought, given the near-hour long time frame. Not having witnessed the band since they were one of Summer Slaughter’s opening acts in 2013, it’s clear that the band has come a long way. Lots of stage presence and movement, but the strongest facet of their live show was just how hard the breakdowns seemed to hit right in the chest. A focus on their most recent material (4 songs from last year’s Dear Desolation and 3 from Holy War) made the set that much stronger as they as a band have become stronger in their writing in more recent years. Vocalist CJ McMahon was humorous and charismatic as frontman, with some amusing quips between songs and some genuine appreciation for the band’s success. After this most recent experience with the band, it’s very clear how they’ve been rising further in the metal circles in the past few years.
Last up was the one and only Dying Fetus. With only three members to grace the stage, it was pretty open up there, but certainly not within the pit, with fans continuing to furiously mosh and engage with the band. With 4 songs from last year’s Wrong One to Fuck With and 3 from Reign Supreme, the band still found time to go back and revisit some older material, with “Grotesque Impalement” and a few cuts from 2000’s Destroy the Opposition being some of the more memorable tracks from the evening. It also showed how strong and consistent their discography has over the years, precisely why the band has been able to stick around over the years. Their music is built for the live venue, with the focus on groove, but watching John Gallagher lay waste into some of the more intricate guitar riffs is equally impressive to watch. Indeed, Dying Fetus has not lost any ground whatsoever over the years, and tonight’s performance is proof positive that their brand of brutal death metal is just as relevant now as it has always been.