GIG REVIEW: Whitechapel, Cattle Decapitation, Goatwhore & Allegaeon Live at The Fillmore, San Francisco
Record labels are a reason we get a chance to experience so much music from various corners of the world. They play an important role in the life of an artist/band and are the ones who are responsible for distribution, merchandising, and most importantly, touring. Speaking of record labels, if you follow metal well enough, you would certainly have heard about Metal Blade Records. They are one of the mammoths of the scene, well known for having some of the best bands under their umbrella.
Metal Blade are currently celebrating their 35th year of existence by bringing together some of the best of their roster in a full-fledged tour of North America. The lineup comprises the best of various worlds such Tech/melodic death metal masters Allegaeon, Thrash/Death hordes Goatwhore, and the sick technical death metallers Cattle Decapitation, headlined by the deathcore stalwarts Whitechapel. A late addition to the lineup was heavy metal band Necromancing the Stone.
Because of the crazy Friday evening traffic on my way to San Francisco, it was inevitable I was not going to arrive on time. Sure enough, I ended up missing the set by Necromancing the Stone which I was in fact very much looking forward to. I however managed not to miss a band I had looked up to ever since I had heard their album ‘Formshifter’ – Allegaeon. What an amazing set they played – it was pure technical brilliance. They had got the evening going and the crowd had begun to fill up the grand Fillmore. Their set was highly engaging and was a respite for me – a person who was craving some good live metal (kudos to those retards who got the Marduk show cancelled).
Next up were the very well-known band from New Orleans, Goatwhore, who have over time gained a successful cult status for their unique sound that combines the elements of death, black and thrash metal. Known for their characteristic old-school feel, they were clad in bullet belts and denim, ready for the attack. Few seconds into their set, a huge circle pit was formed, sucking in everything and everyone in its wake. Bodies seemed to be flying, while others seemed to have been caught in a headbanging frenzy. Vocalist Ben Falgoust did an amazing job as a frontman, engaging the crowd constantly. The overall sound of the band was innately tight and entertaining. I can’t believe this is coming from me who is not much of a thrash enthusiast, but I have to admit that I did enjoy their set.
The time was now. After somehow missing all their shows in the last two years, the moment which I had been waiting for had arrived. The pioneers and game changers of the Technical death grind genre, Cattle Decapitation, were upon the stage to unleash hell and spread the sickness. The lights went dark, a tremolo-picked riff rode on a low-tempo beat, the horns went up, and then came in the infamous pig squeal in its contained form. It was the opener track “Manufactured Extinct”. Within the flap of an eyelid, the tempo had increased by six folds and so had the speed of the raging circle pit. Humans felt like mere insects being crushed under the hammers of the inhuman blast beats and the punishing groove. It felt like aliens had descended on earth to play one of the sickest sets I have ever experienced live. Travis Ryan’s vocals, which traversed from growls to pig squeals to i-am-not-sure-what-to–call-it vocals, added great dynamics to the overall sound. While you though it could not get even sicker, they churned out classics such as “Your Disposal”, “Apex Blasphemy”, “Forced Gender Reassignment” and “Pacific Grim”. The huge size of the circle pit had forced chaos on the front rows where I was standing – at times, it even felt like the front rails would break off. I have no more to say, and will leave the brutality to your imagination.
After the extremely body-battering set, I decided to go buy some merch and then enjoy the rest of the show from behind the pit. The stage was being setup for the headliners Whitechapel. Bluntly speaking, the Deathcore genre is something I have never been able to connect to sonically. While I might have a certain liking for a small number of bands of this genre, I find most of this music relying completely and only on breakdowns, which turn out to be monotonous and without soul. Over a period of time, this was one of the reasons I have not checked or to rightly put it, maybe missed some good music – Whitechapel being one of them. Hence, putting such thoughts to rest, I cleared my mind and got ready to enjoy the last set of this beautiful Friday evening,
I stood there for the end to begin. Darkness yet again descended one last time for the evening. The sounds of low-tuned guitars were evident, and there was a lot of palm-muting. Some great structured drumming, and some good vocals were in there as well. It took me a while, but I have to agree that it was a great and entertaining live experience. I even found myself nodding my head in rhythm to their music a lot of times during the set.
Now coming to the crowd – they had gone insane, getting the biggest pit of the evening in motion. Crowd-surfers were having a great time, and the entire arena was enjoying the set to their fullest. The crowd seemed to be comprised of a large number of fans that shouted slogans of “Whitechapel! Whitechapel!” between each song. Whitechapel played almost an hour-long set, which was an epic conclusion to an epic evening.
Metal Blade’s 35th Anniversary tour and its stop in San Francisco was a celebration of the diverse varieties of Metal it has housed for more than three decades. It showcased some great talent in the form of a melodic tech metal by Allegaeon, a raw and gnarly old-school attack by Goatwhore, sickening brutality by Cattle Decapitation, and sheer deathcoresque brilliance by Whitechapel.