Vader – September 20, 2013 – The Oasis Bar and Grill, Charleston, SCTuesday, 24th September 2013
The US incarnation of Vader’s “Back to the Black Tour,” consisting of six bands looking to mercilessly pummel Charleston back to the colonial period, descended on the Holy City (irony duly noted) for a night of nonstop extremity. A few lingering sound issues, however, as well as a rather lackluster turnout, kept the night from reaching its full potential.
A small crowd consisting of no more than 50 people on the floor at any given time mostly stood and stared at the opening bands (with the exception of a few faithful headbangers along the front of the stage), which consisted of local act Coffin Syrup; the often brutal, sometimes technical, but overall derivative Extremely Rotten; and Colorado brutal/tech deathers Execration. The crowd began to liven up when the death/thrash quintet of Sacrificial Slaughter took the stage, the undeniable hook of the more direct, thrashier song structures proving too much for even noncommittal headbangers to resist, even though several monitors decided to go on strike sporadically throughout the set.
Main support came from death metal veterans Vital Remains, who largely stole the show from the perspective of crowd reaction. Opener “Icons of Evil” saw the first pits of the night break out, and subsequent slayers “Hammer Down the Nails,” “Descent into Hell,” and the epic “Dechristianize” kept the night’s energy at its apex with frontman Brian Werner commanding the crowd like a sadistic drill sergeant, overshadowing the misfortune of lead guitarist Aaron Homma’s solos being lost in the mix.
Poland’s death metal giants Vader took the stage right at about the witching hour, and from the opening strains of “Sothis” to the final throes of closer “Wings,” they showed why they are still a force to be reckoned with in the extreme metal world. No instrument was lost in the mix this time around, though. Peter’s sledgehammer vocals effortlessly battered through the flurry of tremolo-picked strings and blast beats, and both his and Spider’s leads were clearly audible amid the cacophony. As a unit, the band exhibited flawless synchronization, never missing a beat even when faced with the sudden stops and tempo shifts in numbers like “Carnal” and the classic “Chaos.” They also culled songs spanning the entire spectrum of the Vader catalog, bulldozing their way through a 45-minute sonic assault consisting of, in addition to the aforementioned tunes, “Dark Age,” “Decapitated Saints,” “Come and See My Sacrifice,” and “Return to the Morbid Reich.”
The only complaint that can be made about Vader’s set is in regard to the crowd, which unfortunately reclaimed its complacency after about the first six songs and stood stationary for the rest of the performance; even the faithful headbangers along the front of the stage had seemingly given up the ghost, which just doesn’t do justice to a band with such esteemed standing as Vader. Perhaps the most disappointing moment, though, was when Vader wrapped up with the closer, “Wings,” and Peter announced that they would see us next time around.
The crowd all-too-cooperatively offered a smattering of applause and quickly made its way to the nearest exit. Not so much as one person in attendance stayed at the front of the stage, chanted the band’s name, or showed any indication that an encore was in order, and subsequent research into this tour shows that Vader had at least been returning to the stage each night to perform “Helleluyah,” and in some cases even a cover, but such was not the case in Charleston.
Overall, the night was an enjoyable one for an extreme metal fans as, sporadic sound problems notwithstanding, virtually each band was at the top of its game. Newer bands like Execration and Sacrificial Slaughter showed that they can recreate the punch and tenacious delivery of their studio work in a live scenario, and any metalhead would be well served to see them when they come to town. Likewise, death metal heavyweights Vital Remains and Vader showed that they still have what it takes to hang with the younger generation of musicians and that they are still more than relevant in the style of metal they were instrumental in forging over two decades ago.
However, the poor attendance figure (even by underground standards) and the general lack of crowd participation and energy for much of the evening surely didn’t make the bands feel as welcome as they should have been, and also explain why Charleston only gets shows like this once every few years. As much as this reviewer would like to believe that Vader will return to his town in the near future, he’s realistic enough to understand that a roadtrip will most likely be required.