On one of the coldest nights of this young 2016 I waited. I waited in line outside Voltage Lounge, a venue I fell in love with last year, to see the one and only DECAPITATED, my favorite Death Metal band…period. My partner in freezing was the lovely and talented Kelly Sharadin who took the awesome photos you see before you. She is one of THE best people to see a show with because her passion for the music is neverending, and she’s also a hell of a photographer. As an added bonus, our old friends in COGNITIVE were also on this bill, as well as locals DISGORGEMENT, who I had yet to hear, but was excited to see based on other friends’ recommendations. And speaking of friends, quite a few of them from this Philly scene were out showing support, including Scruffo and Mykel from CORPSE HOARDER (remember that name…trust me), which is always great to see.
Getting the night started was DISGORGEMENT. Playing songs from their crushing self-titled EP (buy it HERE) the band definitely pulled no punches and was pretty much in fifth gear their entire set. Vocalist Jon Hatred is a madman and he left everything out there on that stage (notice the band shirt he’s wearing?). You best believe I will be catching these boys again live, hopefully sooner rather than later. Their combination of ferocity and groove is something any Death Metal fan can get behind quickly.
Up next was COGNITIVE. As some of you might remember I was absolutely floored when I saw them open the Devastation On the Nation tour last year. They set the bar for intensity and performance that only one other band out of six on that bill was able to match. So needless to say I couldn’t wait to see them again. Picking up where they left off, the boys tore into “In the Form of a Drone” and “Fire From the Sky”, once again taking that bar and elevating it even higher. Other killer cuts included “Regurgitated Existence” and “Cut the Fuck Up” before the unveiling of a new track “Tyrant of the Barrens”, definitely one of the night’s best. Jorel Hart (vocals), the guitar duo of Harry Lannon and Rob Wharton, drummer Mike Castro and bassist Ian Bainbridge showed everyone in that room exactly why they are rising stars of the genre. For more on them, check HERE.
After a couple of Citywides it was time for me to see DECAPITATED for the second time in just over a year. This gig was circled on my concert calendar for a long time. The fact they were headlining only sweetened the deal for me. Kelly had yet to see them so I knew she was in for a treat as well. Wasting no time they quickly hit us over the head with five tracks from latest album Blood Mantra, starting with “Exiled In Flesh” and “The Blasphemous Psalm to the Dummy God Creation”, a one-two punch if ever there was one. Vocalist Rafał “Rasta” Piotrowski prowled the stage back and forth whipping his dreads around like weapons all while delivering an insane performance behind the mic. I’ve said before what command he has of a stage and a room and this night was no exception.
Guitarist Vogg always manages to coax the most unique and bruising tones from his axe, which is especially evident on “Veins” and title track “Blood Mantra”. At Voltage the riffs from these two simply ripped through the walls and probably smacked a few passersby on the street! “Nest’ is one of my Top 5 songs from the band and when they launched into it I screamed just a bit louder than everyone around me. The machine gun rhythm section of Michał Łysejko and Pawel Pasek are one of the most dynamic in metal and they go from “semi” to “full auto” on this tune alongside Vogg.
The band then visited previous albums including a pair from Carnival Is Forever with “Homo Sum” and “404” back-to-back, as well as “Post (?) Organic” and “Day 69” off of Organic Hallucinosis, driving the crowd wild as each one started. But the biggest noise up to that point was reserved for “Spheres of Madness” from the Nihility record. Easily one of the best songs in DECAPITATED’S arsenal it served to bring the house down with authority. And if THAT wasn’t enough, it was time for one more new body blow with “Instinct”, another favorite of mine, and judging from those up front and near me in the balcony, a lot of other people’s, too!
All told this was one Hellacious night of Death Metal. The chill outside was no match for the searing heat inside Voltage Lounge. Booking manager Sean Salm really put together another fantastic package for metalheads, and I will be at many more of his shows. Young guns DISGORGEMENT and COGNITIVE showed us how brutal they can be, and that they can hang with the veterans. Meanwhile, DECAPITATED did what they always do: DESTROY LIVE!!
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO
LIVE PHOTOS: KELLY SHARADIN