By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos & Oceano paragraph by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
This summer, Matt Martinez and I have been riddled with so many concerts, more than we have ever dreamed of. We have covered both our first festival (Blackest of the Black), and arena show (Stone Sour and Korn). Along the way, we got to attend a couple of album release parties, hosted by heavy metal ambassador, Jose Mangin, and chatted with some of rock ‘n’ rolls most glorious heroes, from Blacktop Mojo to Sumo Cyco. However, while it has been a fruitful season for us, summer has to come to an end, unfortunately. Luckily for us, we had the chance to cover one of the most coveted heavy metal touring festivals ever put together, The Summer Slaughter Tour, presented by Sumerian Films American Satan. It is a huge touring circuit, which features some of the most fearsome, guttural, extreme death metal bands today. There are ten groups to be exact, and their next stop was at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Headlining this year is The Black Dahlia Murder, celebrating the 10th anniversary of their 2007 release, Nocturnal. It was time to get extreme to the bone!
The show started around 2:30, but Matt and I arrived a little before 5:30, missing out on the first 4 acts. The first group we caught on stage, was the deathcore alien freaks, Rings of Saturn. This band has been gaining a huge reputation, for creating songs that center around sci-fi and the possible existence of extraterrestrials. Right away, I went out of my mind, and stomped my feet to their in-your-face deathcore sound. Promoting their newest release, Ultu Ulla, the boys from the Bay Area came in guns a blazing. Vocalist Ian Bearer rattles the showroom with his tenacious screaming. Playing 5 songs total, they performed 3 songs from their new record. From “Parallel Shift” to “Seized and Devoured,” it was never dull moment for these guys. Guitarist Miles Baker is a maestro on his guitar, riffing up some extreme solos. Drummer Aaron Stechauner was a one man wrecking crew behind the kit, delivering pulsating beats. One notable absence was guitarist and founder Lucas Mann, who unfortunately could not make the tour. There was no bassist up there, but that did not stop them performing perfectly. The truth is out there, and it is that Rings of Saturn killed it!!
Full Rings of Saturn slideshow below:
Up next, was the technical death metal giants Origin. I was impressed by their complex riffs and rhythms, and the crowd could not get enough. Promoting their latest effort, Unparalleled Universe, the natives of Topeka, Kans., swept us up with their signature sound. Frontman Jason Keyser is brute force on stage, with his death growls and snarly voice. I was taken aback by the sweep picking techniques, by guitarist Paul Ryan and bassist Mike Flores. It takes real skill and talent to pull off what they did. The blast beats by drummer John Longstreth, rocked the Grove of Anaheim to its deathly core. They fired away at the fans with songs of rapid proportion, such as “Cascading Failures,” “Diminishing Returns,” “Truthslayer,” and “Expulsion of Fury” to name a few. For 30 minutes, Origin took us on an adrenaline filled roller coaster ride. They make the difficult playing look so easy.
Full Origin slideshow below:
Continuing the slaughter was a band from Chicago, Illi., who call themselves Oceano. Fronted by their longest tenured member, Adam Warren, his stage presence reminded me of Derrick Green of Sepultura, a big unstoppable force, commanding the stage. He has a guttural screeching voice, which is similar to Eddie Hermida of Suicide Silence. Playing to the entire audience, were Scott Smith and Chris Wagner, who play lead guitar and bass respectively. Both members were constantly moving across each side of the stage, sharing the mic stands. They refused to be locked to one spot on the stage. The newest member was drummer Matt Kohanowski, who was keeping the beat perfectly for every song, but seems to still be finding his stage presence with the band. Oceano is promoting their newest album, Revelation, and performed two songs off of it, “Path to Extinction” and “Human Harvest.” Before ending their set, Adam made one last announcement, asking people to throw away their trash. It’s awesome to see a death metal band with a purpose to help the environment. Ending their set with “Dawn of Descent,” Oceano launched the crowd into a foaming frenzy, filled with headbanging and moshing.
Full Oceano slideshow below:
The Faceless of Encino, Calif. were supposed to hit the stage next, but they never showed up. According to some rumors, I have been hearing in the room, they have been having some tensions with their new drummer, but what do I know. It is disappointing when a group scheduled to perform does not show up. However, Matt was able to get one good shot of them, so enjoy it.
Following the Faceless fiasco, Dying Fetus ripped through our souls with their vicious performance. The masters of technical death metal and deathgrind enriched our heavy metal souls, with some heavy bass riffs by Sean Beasley, deafening, complex blast beats by drummer Trey Williams, and soul jerking guitar licks by sole original member John Gallagher. Not only can Gallagher riff it up, he has one of the gnarliest death growls I have ever heard come from a death metal singer. He is like a beast, roaring out to his loyal followers, as they charge into each other, with glorious thrusts. Having just released their latest album, Wrong One to Fuck With, they only played the title track off the record. With songs ranging from political unrest to violence, Dying Fetus gave the crowd an array of songs to beat their chests to, like “Justifiable Homicide,” “Killing On Adrenaline,” and “Invert the Idols.” Despite not seeing Faceless, Dying Fetus continued the mayhem.
Full Dying Fetus slideshow below:
The fans were angry, vigorous, and ready, when the Black Dahlia Murder took to the stage. The melodic death metal juggernauts had me swinging my head in a circular motion, during their entire performance. As mentioned in the beginning, they played the entire Nocturnal catalogue in celebration of its 10th anniversary. Vocalist Trevor Strnad screeches on all four cylinders, as he belts out the album’s classic tunes, from “I Only Worship What You Bleed” to “Deathmask Divine.” As he is roaring, he also is conducting with his hands, the band’s playing, and the crowd’s singing. Lead guitarist Brandon Ellis is the newest member, and he proves himself to be an outstanding master shredder. Combine that with rhythm guitarist Brian Eschbach’s heavy grooves, drummer Alan Cassidy’s thrashing beats, and bassist Max Lavelle’s monstrous licks, they collectively, easily reminded the fans of exactly why they are one of the most successful death metal groups of all time. After finishing the album, Black Dahlia Murder decided to serenade the unruly fans with “I Will Return” and a new song, “Nightbringers,” which will be featured off their upcoming release, Nightbringers.
Full The Black Dahlia Murder slideshow below:
The Grove had come alive with chaos and decadence, leaving the fans very satisfied. Death metal and deathcore ruled the night in Anaheim, especially with rapper Kendrick Lamar performing down the street, at the Honda Center. Every group brought out the best in all of us metalheads. While the music is very extreme and violent, every one of my metal brothers and sisters celebrated our love for this music. Black Dahlia Murder enhanced my love for death metal, and Rings of Saturn helped us embrace the unknown boundaries of heavy metal. Matt and I went home with sore necks, but also with excessive rapture. I will be returning next year, and it is my hope that the new lineup with be just as superior as this one was. To every band on the Summer Slaughter Tour, I salute you. Horns up!!!