Florida invented death metal — arguably the most cartoonish (and excellent) order of heavy metal sub-phylum. Saturday night, South Florida metal fans were treated to a performance by the blasphemous kings of death, Deicide.
As the trusty Kreator DVD, played at just about every heavy metal show, kept the Culture Room’s screens busy, the black shirted masses kept the bar tenders busy. The patio area hosted what appeared to be a Florida death metal reunion of sorts, with Deicide’s vocalist/bassist Glen Benton appearing in a jovial state. He wandered about, shaking hands with people like Hate Eternal drum hero Derek Roddy, and stopping to sign the interior lining of a fan’s patch-encrusted jean vest.
The show’s opening acts included locals Murder Suicide, a band named Ebullition, and of course, the kooky old-school death metal heathens of Hellwitch.
Hellwitch’s performance mirrored what we witnessed when the group opened for Obituary recently, except the Culture Room provided them with a beefier sound. I’ve taken a new stance on the “scary voice” lead singer Patrick Ranieri uses to address the audience between songs: The voice is simply a part of their shtick, and something that has been a part of their act for a very long time, and as such we suppose it garners a bit of respect — if only for the bullheaded avoidance of following trends. (Though I still found his on-stage pill popping to be in bad taste, especially in the state that has as many pill farms as death metal bands.) After Ranieri called the audience a bunch of “sick fucks” (not the first time), he said something in his “scary voice” about “all of the freaks from Hialeahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!”
Up next, Ebullition proceeded to play what sounded like the same riff for its entire set. While fans normally enjoy that in the context of stoner metal, it was obviously not the bands intention to have every riff sound the same, and the unfortunate one that they chose to beat into the ground was borderline nü-metal, just with death metal vocals applied on top.
After everyone waited patiently for Ebullition to wrap things up, it was finally time for Deicide to lay siege to the Culture Room. The crowd started to mosh before one note was played, and Benton’s arrival was met by a sea of horned hands. As the band, which includes former Cannibal Corpse guitarist Jack Owen, ripped through a balanced set of classics and new songs, the audience grew more and more energized.
Benton’s guttural yelling alternated with blood-curdling high-pitched howls over the band’s whirlpool of metal. As the man’s eyes rolled into the back of his head, the stage lights danced off the still very clear inverted cross branded on his forehead. The blast beats and shredding guitars of songs like “When Satan Rules His World” crawled up the walls to the ceiling, where the sound rained down on the thrashing audience like an acid assault. A man flew from the center of the metal whirlpool at point, flying through the heavily layered crowd and ending on the step next to the bar, a victim of a pit that had grown so violent it was now expelling the weak.
Regardless of how intensely Deicide played its blasphemous material, Benton took the time to confide in the audience that he receives the same satisfaction being on stage as they do in the crowd. He took the opposite approach to Hellwitch’s between song banter by breaking the metal fourth wall and coming off as, well, kind of a fun guy when saying things like, “I’m just doing the devil’s work, man. Somebody’s gotta do it!”
As Deicide kicked into the song “Death To Jesus,” Benton looked a bit like Lemmy’s kid brother: the guy saddled with the burden of trying to one-up the original heavy metal badass. The two men both play similar roles in their respective bands, and they both command a stage in a very similar manner. But Benton has always been known for trying to push what is and isn’t acceptable in extreme heavy metal.
The show served as a reminder of what might be Florida’s greatest gift to music — aside from Tom Petty — and the reunions taking place backstage and on the patio emphasized just how long Deicide has been doing what they do: bumming out your parents, and playing death metal better than just about anyone else.
–By David Von Bader