These goregrind OGs are unquestionably the more extreme band on the bill, whether we’re talking artwork (peep the gloriously grotesque cover of their 1998 classic Gore Metal) or sheer sonic cojones. Their fast, dirty, and groovy odes to carnage and corpses are as catchy as the clap, and a hell of a lot more fun to discuss with last weekend’s one-night stand (“Oh, I love their Sarcofago cover!” “Me too! What’s your last name again, babe?”).
Formed in 1990, Exhumed have been slicing and dicing their way through the underground since before some of the other Summer Slaughter tourmates were born. Their infectious Carcass-baiting tunes and penchant for diabolical cover songs (their renditions of classic Amebix and Madonna songs are personal favorites) will surely set them apart from the tech-obsessed youngsters showing up for Periphery, and make many a Cannibal Corpse fan’s neck snap.
Their last record, All Guts, No Glory, was the band’s first collection of new material in eight (!) years, and to the great delight of gorehounds everywhere, was both a welcome return to form, and a ‘banger in its own right.
“Thanks! We were all really happy with it. It was weird, I kept waiting for the normal reviews we get that slag the band off as a bunch of derivative nonsense, but I didn’t really see any. I didn’t look that hard, though,” chuckled vocalist/guitarist Matt Harvey. He and his compatriots will be taking the stage far earlier than many an older hesher would like, but, there’s something in it for the kids, too.
“I really enjoy the challenge of winning over a new audience, I mean that’s why we’re doing this tour. I think anyone into any kind of classic metal will probably get where we’re coming from. It’s all about feeding off of each other’s energy – as Foreigner said, ‘We’ve got the amps, you’ve got the numbers, and there’s strength in numbers,’ ” Harvey mused. Words of warning to the initiated, though: There will be blood. “We each have our ways of getting the other pumped up, we’ve instruments to abuse, and the audience has necks to headbang with, voices to shout with, and pits and stagediving and such. As far as what we do … I would just say expect a racket, but a fun racket. Also, don’t stand in the front if you don’t want to get covered in blood!”
Perennial underdogs, cursed with bad luck, and still screaming for vengeance – Goatwhore are lifers in every sense of the word, and one of the hardest-touring acts in extreme metal on top of it. These NOLA-based hellraisers have been kicking around since 1997, and are going stronger than ever. They release a new record, ‘Blood For The Master,’ earlier this year via veteran indie Metal Blade, and as far as I can tell, haven’t been home since. Their live show, honed by countless shows and years upon years in the trenches, is a force to be reckoned with – all machinegun blasts and dirty Celtic Frosted grooves, delivered with surgical precision and just enough wild-eyed earnestness to keep you guessing (just how seriously do they take this whole Satan thing, really? Seriously enough). Leather, spikes, long hair, and mean mugs – Goatwhore look so metal it’s almost a caricature, but the hellish racket they emit is nothing but if not deadly serious. Like a good bowl of Louisiana gumbo, Goatwhore aren’t shy about mixing in a few different flavors. They spit out a thrashy amalgamation of black metal and death metal, with more than a few nods to the old-time rock’n’roll that the members love so much (try to catch a glimpse of drummer Zack Simmons’ Motorhead tattoo) thrown in.
The result is satisfying on an almost primal level. There’s nothing too complex, nothing progressive, nothing pretentious or overblown about Goatwhire’s music; it’s just solid, brutal, and catchy as the plague. Frontman Ben Falgoust’s scratchy roar has become one of extreme metal’s most recognizable, and his stage presence is unparallelled; the man is way too much fun to watch, and anyone with an appreciation for a fine-lookin’ Southern fella will have plenty of eye candy to keep ‘em satisfied.
Between the Buried and Me
A few years ago, Between the Buried and Me would have made at least a bit of sense on this lineup. Sure, they weren’t exactly brutal, or really “metal,” per se, but they at least had a grip on that hyper-technical metallic hardcore that all the kids were spinning out to in 2005. Their self-titled debut LP dropped in 2002 and launched the band into the limelight thanks to support from Lifeforce Records. Their next couple albums kept them floating near the top of the prog-metalcore heap, and ensuing support slots on the road with bands like the Dillinger Escape Plan, Horse the Band, Every Time I Die, and at Ozzfest 2006 kept them busy.
Fast-forward a few more years and a few leaps in stylistic evolution later, though, and BTBAM are looking to be the odd man out. Their progressive rock tendencies and metalcore roots are a far cry from the Meshuggah-lite or old school death metal of their tourmates, and while they’re sure to have a grip of diehard fans out in full force, that force won’t look too impressive when stacked up against the gym short-clad legions of Veil of Maya acolytes and thick-necked Corpsegrinder clones. The perils of diversification, I suppose. Their set will allow a breath of fresh air for fans and more open-minded or curious concertgoers – and a cigarette and bar break for everyone else. It’s a shame, because the band are nothing if not creative and proficient. Their next record’s due out on Metal Blade later this year so there will surely be new material to contend with, but here’s hoping they bust out some of those early 2000’s-era cuts to get some energy flowing and keep up with the Joneses.
Veil of Maya
Once upon a time, there was nu metal. That turned into metalcore, and now, djent is king amongst younger kids who are just getting into metal via less-than-orthodox avenues. Instead of Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden, today’s 16 year olds are getting into bands like Asking Alexandria and Born of Osiris – hyper-technical, off-kilter, vaguely prog-tinged, sorta-death metal with hardcore roots (and breakdowns – lots of those). We may as well call a spade a spade here, and default to the “deathcore” tag. It sounds like early 2000s metalcore has grown up, traded its skinny jeans for … more skinny jeans and a few pairs of basketball shorts, and bought itself a few Meshuggah records.
The result? Veil of Maya (and Periphery, for that matter). Solid riffs? Who needs ‘em! Catchy, cohesive song structures? Fuck ‘em! I’m surely missing something here; these bands are too popular for them to be as awful as my jaded old ears perceive them to be. I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would want to listen to music like this, though … but then again, the same could be said for Ride For Revenge or Cianide I suppose. At any rate, the venue will probably be absolutely swarming with teenagers when these guys hit the stage, to the assured dismay of the bar staff and delight of the merch sellers. A mosh pit will open up, stocked with swinging limbs and big brutish hardcore dudes. Some skinny kid will come stumbling out holding a torn napkin to his face, blood streaming down from a broken nose and already beginning to stain his Animals As Leaders shirt. It won’t be pretty.
Bottom line: If you’re coming to this stop on the Summer Slaughter tour to see any of the younger, techier bands on the bill, you’ll eat this shit up. If, however, you’re turning up to catch Cannibal Corpse, Exhumed, and/or Goatwhore, run for the fucking hills (or at least, to the fucking bar to numb the aural pain with a few shots of rail whiskey).