The Summer Slaughter Tour rolled into Philadelphia last week and man oh, man was it a doozy. Having had to miss several big shows this summer due to work I was waiting and waiting for this day to come. With my trusty friend and photographer Terry from Scenes of Madness by my side we were ready for hours and hours of extreme metal at the one and only Trocadero Theatre. With a line-up boasting such heavies as BEYOND CREATION, CATTLE DECAPITATION, THE ACACIA STRAIN, VEIL OF MAYA, BORN OF OSIRIS, and headliners ARCH ENEMY this was obviously gonna be a night to remember.
Since this was an all ages show I panicked as soon as I walked in and saw that my usual favorite spot was not designated for 21 and up.
No way would I be able to deal with all these youngsters running around without some cold beers, no sir. Luckily my fears were assuaged by the gentleman checking I.D.’s at the entrance to the balcony. We found a great perch up there which provided the perfect vantage point to watch the festivities. It was my first time in the balcony but it certainly won’t be my last. After two bands who I’ll just call BAD and WORSE it was time for BEYOND CREATION.
Hailing from Canada, the four-piece put on an intensive clinic on how to get amazing sounds out of their instruments. Vocalist/guitarist Simon Girard coaxed these otherworldly tones from his axe and bassist Tommy Dugas’ feel and groove was silky smooth as the band powered through “Omnipresent Perception” and “Earthborn Evolution”, the title track from the new album, as well as tunes like “Fundamental Process’ and closer “Coexistence” off of debut The Aura.
CATTLE DECAPITATION took the stage next, immediately launching into the one-two punch of “Manufactured Extinct” and “The Prophets of Loss” from their just-released album The Anthropocene Extinction. Not only is this record fucking amazing, live the songs were even better. Travis Ryan goes from the lowest of growls to the sickest of highs in a flash, and behind him the band just spits fire. A definite highlight for me was “Forced Gender Reassignment” from 2012’s Monolith of Inhumanity. This song just beats the shit out of you till you beg for more.
Now, admittedly I’m not the world’s biggest fan of THE ACACIA STRAIN. Some of their earlier stuff didn’t really thrill me, but I did enjoy the last record Coma Witch enough that I was interested in checking them out. And I have to admit their high-energy set was impressive. From opener “Human Disaster” to “Beast” to “Holy Walls of the Vatican” it seemed they’d never let up. And that’s what you want from a package like this, right? I would 100% definitely see them again next time they’re in town. Well done!
One thing I must mention too is just the absolute silliness of the guys who were hardcore dancing to the band. I don’t know WHAT the hell that happy horseshit is, but it really needs to stop. Not only do they look ridiculous, but someone is one errant kick away from getting a broken nose. And trust me, if I catch an elbow or foot, somebody’s gonna get hurt and it ain’t gonna be me.
Next up was VEIL OF MAYA, one of the more polarizing bands on this tour. The addition of new vocalist Lukas Magyar has been rather divisive, but lemme tell you something: he fits like a glove, especially in a live setting. The first two songs from new disc Matriarch “Lucy” and “Mikasa” were followed by familiar cuts “Punisher”, “Unbreakable,” and “[id]”, all of which were eagerly lapped up by those in attendance. Clearly no one in this crowd had any stupid issues to work through and were just there to rock with VEIL OF MAYA.
“Crawl Back” was sandwiched between new numbers “Phoenix” and “Leeloo” before crushing closer and one of my personal favorites “It’s Not Safe to Swim Today” brought things to a hellacious ending.
This was definitely one of the high points in an evening full of them. This band is firing on all cylinders and I fully expect them to be back on a headlining run before this tour cycle ends. I also have to give a shout-out to my new friend Evie, the awesome lady who watched our gear and held our spots while Terry and I shot and did an interview. Thanks, Evie!!
Hi! I hope this review finds you well. I think you guys are a great band. With that said, your lighting, or lack thereof is utterly distracting, and a photographer’s nightmare. I’m not sure what you were going for, but it really took away from a great musical performance. The look on Terry’s face when he came back up to the balcony was NOT a happy one. So how ‘bout you knock off that nonsense and let the world see you so us reviewers can get some good shots, hmm? OK…Good talk.
After the previous band’s lighting debacle it was time for a full-on metal show from the one and only ARCH ENEMY. I’m only gonna say this once: I LOVE Alissa White-Gluz fronting this band. She is perfect in every way and knows how to galvanize a crowd. Newest album War Eternal is a monster home run, fuck what anybody says. The intro music of “Khaos Overture” from the Khaos Legions record played over the P.A. which quickly gave way to “Yesterday Is Dead and Gone” from the same album, a fitting opener, and one HELL of a statement if you ask me. Alissa prowled the stage, owning it, while guitarists Jeff Loomis and Michael Amott, drummer Daniel Erlandsson, and bassist Sharlee D’Angelo shook the place to its very foundations, tearing through title track “War Eternal” followed by “Ravenous” (Gods, I love this song!!) off of Wages of Sin.
The group was off and running and there was no stopping them. “Stolen Life”, another new one totally rocked balls, then Doomsday Machine made the first of two appearances with “My Apocalypse”. Khaos showed up again with “Bloodstained Cross” before we were treated to a double-shot of War Eternal numbers, “Never Forgive, Never Forget” and “As the Pages Burn”. Anthems of Rebellion’s “Dead Eyes See No Future” was one of the set highlights, no question, and final new tune “Avalanche” practically leveled the joint. Set closer “Nemesis” was an absolute fireball, and those of us who bravely hung in for the whole show loved every minute of it. I can’t believe I never saw ARCH ENEMY till now…Dumbass me!! When all was said and done you couldn’t get the smile off my face.
All six bands brought their fucking A-Game, making Summer Slaughter hands-down THE best tour of the season. Both Terry and our new friend Evie had as much fun as I did, and the three of us need to do this again soon. Now, bring on next year!!
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO
LIVE PHOTOS: SCENES OF MADNESS PHOTOGRAPHY