Last Sunday, in the sweltering heat in Hollywood, around a thousand black-shirt clad longhairs in spikes and tight jeans, stoners, death metalheads and thrashers in denim bombarded the House of Blues on Sunset for this year's installment of the Summer Slaughter Tour, an extreme metal package bill that has been wreaking havoc across the country since 2007.

The tour crosses North America over the course of four to six weeks and boasts some of the best caliber extreme metal artists. This year's all day juggernaut featured the reformed death metal band Decapitated from Poland, Northern California's metal core heroes All Shall Perish, The Faceless, the Red Chord, Decrepit Birth and Colorado's maniacal stoner jazz/grind core unit Cephalic Carnage among many others.

We got a chance to speak with several bands before the House of Blues show, which was the tour's second stop. The festival ends August 23, in San Francisco.

Sunday July 18, 2010

House of Blues Sunset

Vocalist Bill Robinson of Santa Cruz Death Metal band Decrepit Birth; Credit: Evil Alex

Vocalist Bill Robinson of Santa Cruz Death Metal band Decrepit Birth; Credit: Evil Alex

Most in the crowd were there to witness Decapitated, a death metal band from Poland formed in 1996 who disbanded after a 2007 tragic car accident in Russia that left founding member, drummer Vitek Kieltyka dead. But Vitek's brother, founding guitarist Vogg reformed Decapitated in 2009 and resurrected his original death metal vision.

The band's closing set Sunday lasted just over an hour, and included songs mostly from the band's albums Nihility and Winds of Creation. Decapitated proved to those in attendance that they deserve to be considered among death metal's elite, much like Cannibal Corpse or Morbid Angel.

Understandably, Vogg is reluctant to talk about his personal grief. “Its life and you go on, but yeah that shit happens and I just get through he difficult time anyway I can. I just go on — I've been doing this for almost 15 years now. But I'm enjoying it very much right now;. The two shows so far have been packed!”

The new line up of Decapitated, features Vogg on guitars, drummer Kerim Lechner, vocalist Rafał Piotrowski and bassist Filip Hałucha. “We look forward to this tour, and getting better making more of a live connection live,” Vogg said. “But definitely after this tour for a short period we want to write new material.”

“We try to do the best shows we can every night. We get one hour for the show we want to put 100 percent into each live show. We love death metal that much. We can't wait to see all of our fans and friends out on the road thanks for the support over all the years!” Vogg said.

Northern California's All Shall Perish are no stranger to touring on metal tours. The band recently completed a 4 show mini West Coast tour with the legendary Danzig. The deathcore band from the Oakland area consists of vocalist Eddie Hermida, guitarists Ben Orum and Francesco Atrusato, drummer Adam Pierce and bassist Mike Tiner.

A year ago, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammet named-dropped All Shall Perish, which stunned guitarist Orum.

“He said we had one of the top 20 albums of the decade which was unbelievable,” Orum said. “As a metal guitarist he is a huge inspiration for us growing up and it was cool that we got to meet them at a show front row the last time they played!”

All Shall Perish's 30 minute set on Sunday was at times, reminiscent of Death, Opeth and even Cryptopsy, and from the first song to last, the metal core kids were slamming and karate chopping away in the circle pit.

Also from Northern California, from the 420 mecca of Santa Cruz, Decrepit Birth were one of the highlights of the show, mesmerizing the crowd with a melodic blend of technical death metal madness in the vein of extreme masters like Necrophagist, Dismember or even Nile. The band features vocalist Bill Robinson, guitarist Matt Sotelo and bassist Joel Horner.

The band's new record, Polarity, is due out on Nuclear Blast on July 27, 2010. On this album the band is “sticking to that progressive thing and sticking to the thrashy heavy head banging riffs.”

They tour in a van,rather than a luxurious tour bus, and are proud to proclaim their fondness of cannabis. “We love to smoke weed, and from up North people are way more laid back about it, most people do blaze,” Sotelo commented.

Live, the band focused its 25 minute set with songs off of Polarity and Diminishing Between Worlds. The dreaded Robinson seemed possessed at times with caustic growls amid melodic guitar work, thrashy riffage and uber fast blast beat drums. Fans ate up the madness and head-banged so hard you could feel it.

With the cannabis theme in full effect, Colorado's stoner grind core madmen of Cephalic Carnage unleashed their dark, heavy yet humorous amalgam of death metal, grind core, black metal, jazz and even jazz onto the House of Blues, and took many by surprise at the vast heavy sound.

The punishing riffs and crushing textures of harsh vocals, thrashy drumming and robot-like precision had fans on edge and would certainly please those into Napalm Death and Dillinger Escape Plan. Cephalic Carnage played songs from the new album, Misled by Certianty, due out August 31.

“This album is by far the most refined, diverse and intense we've ever put out,” Schendzielos said. “I think it's the best one by far, but we play a set list with old and new songs. “We will play the essentials for the fans on this,” Schendzielos said.

Other highlights of the festival included The Faceless, a melodic death metal core band from Encino, California with a massive following. Their critically acclaimed album Planetary Duality (2008) chronicles an esoteric conspiracy involving shape-shifting reptilians planning to enslave humanity.

Also of note: The Red Chord a thrashy grind core/hardcore band from Massachusetts, and Vital Remains, a blackened death metal group focused on two things: death metal and hating Jesus. These Christian bashers once featured legendary death metal vocalist Glen Benton of Deicide on their 2003 record Dechristianize. Think Satan, upside down crosses, head banging, and blasphemous yet indecipherable lyrics.

With Summer nearly half over, all in all this turned out to be a raging day full of extreme metal's best contemporary offerings.

LA Weekly