2014 has been quite a year for live shows so far. I have seen a ton of great bands, and we still have two months to go. But there was maybe only a handful that I REEEEALLY had to see or die trying. The first one that comes to mind is PRIMAL FEAR. The second would be OVERKILL, obviously. And the third would be the one and only DECAPITATED who were in Dallas for one night only. Rest assured I was gonna go THROUGH anyone who got in my way once it was announced. Plus it was my first chance to scope out the brand new Gas Monkey Live which opened not even two weeks prior. And what a gorgeous venue! I also had a bit of a guest list issue at the box office, and this really cool employee named Chris (big dude) came out and got me all straightened out, so kudos to him for going above and beyond. As an added bonus, Austin Texas’ own AMERICAN SHARKS were the show openers. I’ve been a fan since my dear friend Caitlin (Hi, bestie!) over at The End Records turned me onto them last year…double score!
The SHARKS came out and gave a highly-charged 30 minute set featuring such rippers as “Iron Lungs”, “Indian Man”, and “Satan’s Overture Pt. I”. Singer/bassist Mike was also very funny and engaging whenever he addressed the crowd and his between-song banter garnered many laughs. Other highlights included “XVI”, “Demon with a Glass Sword” and set closer “Overdrive”. Their songs are very much in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it vein, but their energy is palpable and infectious and it’s safe to say they walked away with some new fans that night. Had a chance to meet Mike after the gig and he’s just a great guy, so catch these boys when you can.
Ohhhhhh boy, you know what’s next. As soon as DECAPITATED’S backdrop was unveiled my face lit up like Cinemas one, Two, Three, Four, and Five!! And when they plugged in and played it was absolute mayhem. The band chose to go with a trio of older tunes to start things off, and first one up was “Lying and Weak” from 2003’s The Negation, followed by two from the 2006 record Organic Hallusinosis in “Day 69” and “Post(?) Organic”. Vocalist Rafał “Rasta”Piotrowski didn’t sing on those albums but he sure as shit made them his own, just like he did at last summer’s Bloodstock. The command this guy has of a stage and a crowd is really something to watch. It’s like there was never any singer in this band before him, that’s how much he owns the material. Guitarist Vogg churned out riff after head-smashing riff and watching his hands made me dizzy. I was floored.
Here’s the strange thing: As into it as the crowd was, it wasn’t until the band launched into songs off of just-released new album Blood Mantra that they went truly apeshit. I have seen some insane circle pits in my day but the ones that kicked up during “Veins”, “Blood Mantra”, and “The Blasphemous Psalm to the Dummy God Creation” were the stuff of legend.
Even more awesome? EVERY time someone went down they were instantly helped up by two or three people. That’s the metal community for you, guys. I also have to say that drummer and newest member Michał Łysejko absolutely fucking slays on every one of these songs and his mate in the rhythm section Pawel Pasek is a wall of sound thicker than a side of beef, most notably on “Dummy God Creation”.
The sonic tapestry woven by him and Vogg on “Nest” definitely shifted the pit into fifth gear, and it was at this point I noticed some gal tossing aside guys twice her size like it was nothing. Hats off to her, she went hard! Rasta was everywhere at once too, gesturing, pounding his chest, and letting his dreads fly all over the place. The guys left the stage for a minute and when they came back “Exiled in Flesh” and more of Vogg’s ten-ton riffs damn near put a hole in the ceiling. Of course they saved the best for last with “Instinct”. I thought the roof might cave in from all the intensity both onstage and in the crowd and I was swept up in it, too, yelling my ass off!
When all was said and done I couldn’t believe the pummeling I just witnessed. This performance only solidified the fact that DECAPITATED are not only one of my favorite bands, death metal or otherwise, but live they can throw down with anyone and probably make most of them look sorry. I don’t care what you have to do; if and when they come back to the U.S. in 2015 you do whatever the fuck it takes to get there. As great as they sound on tape, that is NOTHING compared to DECAPITATED live. One of the best shows of 2014, no question.
LIVE PHOTOS: GUZPIX