Dying Fetus

support Psycroptic + Beyond Creation + Disentomb
author RUB date 15/10/17 venue VoxHall, Århus, DEN

The Fall vacation, for many Danes — students, at least — is almost upon us but before it starts on Monday, we are treated to a visit from some of the heavyweights from various styles of death metal. Dying Fetus are on tour promoting their most recent outing, “The Wrong One to Fuck With” and they’ve brought some interesting names from opposite sides of the world to support them: Australian acts Psycroptic and Disentomb, and the Canadian group Beyond Creation. Århus venue VoxHall is about half-full when the first band enters the stage, which is a pretty decent turnout considering this is a Sunday, and with the sound issues of my previous visit here still fresh in mind, I am hoping that the venue has managed to fix those by now.

All photos courtesy of Sebastian Dammark

Disentomb

All the way from the other side of the planet, this quartet from Australia plays brutal and technical death metal in the vein of Hate Eternal. They boast a very audible bass, fast drumming, blazing guitar and indecipherable vocals, making them a very fitting band to warm up the crowd for the main act. With his eager Aussie accent, Jordan James engages the crowd to ”get in the pit — don’t be a cunt!”, which instantly spawns a moshpit and some loud laughing. Sadly though, the right speaker is — just like my last visit — still an issue. Again, it is most audible when James makes banter in between songs or hits a high note, but also to some extent during the songs themselves. If one looks around at the faces of the crowd, it becomes evident that I’m not the only one bothered by it. This doesn’t stop the band from giving it their best though, as they continue to play without relent. Both the aforementioned lead singer and drummer Henri Sison look absolutely menacing, and add to the intensity with their huge physical appearance, with especially Henri coming across as a beast behind the kit. Both bass and guitar are played fast and with a high level of skill, and when coupled with the tight drumming and deep growls, the band’s soundscape makes becomes very brutal. As the sole guitarist, it is actually very impressive that Jake Wilkes manages to play at the speed he does, since it looks so demanding.

The overall sound is still marred by the scratchy noises from the speaker, but this is finally taken care of when Jordan switches his microphone with one from the drum kit, improving its sound quite a lot. Too bad that this wasn’t taken care of earlier, since at this point we’re reaching the end of a fairly short set. The crowd continues moshing but never really manages to take it to the next level and as such, Disentomb delivers a rock-solid show-off in brutal death metal, albeit with the problems with the sound becoming just a bit too much at times. Hopefully, the next band would be luckier.

Beyond Creation

Fortunately, It would seem that the sound issues are almost entirely fixed when the Canadian band Beyond Creation enters the stage. We now venture into a different kind of debt metal, compared to the previous band, with more progressive, albeit still very technical song structures making it more comparable to bands like Gorod, Obscura and at times even Between the Buried and Me. When the second song is aired, the crowd, which has grown noticeably in size now as well, answers with a loud cheer. It would seem that we could be in for something special this evening. But sadly, it only goes downhill from here; during aforementioned song, the sound of the lead singer and guitarist Simon Girard’s instrument vanishes altogether. And only adding to the frustration, there is no sign of anyone trying to fix the issues, not to mention anyone even realizing it! Even when Girard tries his hand with a solo, one can hear that his instrument is just hopelessly inaudible — and when a band relies this much on the dynamic of all of the instruments played together, this cannot and should not happen. Everyone continues to play like nothing has happened, and especially drummer Philippe Boucher is insanely tight. The majority of the audience doesn’t seem to notice the issues at all, and they continue to cheer every song aired. Meanwhile, a friend of mine has to actually leave the concert area, because he finds the sound mix to be so terrible — despite looking forward to this particular band the most.

By now I’m almost certain that it’s not going to get fixed, either — just as I realize that the volume on Girard’s microphone is also way too low in the mix, with backing vocalist Kévin Chartré completely overruling his voice when he joins in on the chorus. Finally, when there are two songs left, the problem is fixed. But to be frank, it has already ruined an otherwise promising experience. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get the sound mix right for a band of Beyond Creation’s nature. One can certainly live with a few hiccups at the beginning of a set, but when half of it is played with an inaudible guitar — not to even mention the other problems that happen during the gig — no way! Most of the crowd, on the other hand, seems to enjoy the show despite the many issues, so that’s something. And seeing this, the rest of the band continues to give it their best. Luckily, I know how well these guys can deliver, so I will most definitely check them out another time around. But tonight is just not their night.

5

Psycroptic

Third time’s the charm! Hopefully we will not have to suffer through any more problems tonight… and lo and behold!, as the Tasmanian technical death metal band Psycroptic starts things off with a massive blast, the sound is crisp at last! For me, this is the highlight of the evening, as their 2003 album “The Scepter of the Ancients” is one of my absolute favourites. The band is off to a good start and instantly gets the moshing kicked off. The technical prowess of the band is instantly recognisable, too, with all members really shining tonight. Just like was the case with the other bands on tonight’s bill, the level of skill is so high that actual movement is kept to a minimum and mostly consists of headbanging. And like Disentomb, Psycroptic’s singer Jason Peppiatt only focuses on vocals. This gives room for some movement and he occasionally storms from side to side or jumps up and down in an attempt to get the crowd moving. The audience, in turn, responds with moshing, headbanging and a couple of decently sized circle pits.

Around half way through the show, the only non-original member, Peppiatt, asks us if there’s any old-school fans around, as he would like to pick up the task of taking us back to their 2003 album — released before he was even part of the band. And with “The Colour of Sleep”, the floor erupts. This is (sadly) the only song aired tonight from that particular album, but it doesn’t really matter, because that makes room for a lot of the other great songs this band has produced over the course of its career. For example, the brilliant “Cold” from their self-titled 2015 outing has us all standing back in awe as just one opportunity to witness how many insanely good tracks they’ve written throughout the years. Personally, I would love to have seen more older stuff, but since the concert is played so tightly and enjoys such good sound, in fairness to the band one can’t really complain. Not only do they put on a good death metal show this evening, they also prove it is still possible to play with a flawless sound mix at Voxhall — something that I was seriously starting to question after my recent experiences.

8

Dying Fetus

Just as it has been the case with every other concert I’ve seen with Dying Fetus, Sean Beasley, on bass, is placed on the left side of stage; John Gallagher, on guitar, on the right; and in the middle, Trey Williams sits behind his drum kit. The two standing musicians switch up the vocal duties as the songs progress, and then occasionally leave their microphone stands to bang their heads. So there’s nothing particularly interesting about that; what you see is what you get. What varies from time to time, however, is the setlist and how much the band is up for the task on the night in question. And luckily, it would seem they’re ready to spark one hell of a metal party tonight, with the setlist revolving around their excellent new album out.

As the new track, “Fixated on Devastation”, is aired and the words ”dance, Denmark, dance” are growled, a moshpit swiftly forms. Again, the sound is as crisp as ever, and when the band plays as tightly as they do, the crowd seems to be in for a treat. Already during the third track, it’s back to some old school again, with “Grotesque Impalement” aired to spark loud cheering. And by now it becomes evident that tonight’s setlist is a fairly even mix of both older and newer material, which is a bit unorthodox, given this tour was planned in support of the new album. The audience is both visibly and audibly into it as the fourth track is announced, with a massive circle pit quickly forming and loud cheers following in its wake. It would seem like the crowd’s energy has finally reached a climax. The set switches back and forth between old and new material, making the evening very diverse — fans, both young and old, should be satisfied.

As any Dying Fetus fan would know, the music doesn’t exactly lose pace over time, and every instrument continues its relentless pounding for the duration of the set. The machine Williams behind the drum kit is as tight as ever and I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t miss a single beat the entire concert; while the constant fretting of both guitar and bass is on a mesmerizing level. As “Subjected to a Beating” from 2012’s “Reign Supreme” is introduced, the floor erupts in a vortex of hair and moshing, superseding everything else seen this evening. The delivery of that song is just perfect, and truly underlines how well the entire setlist and gig have been until now. This makes it especially difficult to pick a ‘best’ for the evening, because the last two bands have both really delivered. Even though the second half of the night, without a doubt, has been the best, it’s pretty much a stalemate between Psycroptic and Dying Fetus, because both have managed to deliver that death metal party that we all came here for. Before Dying Fetus end their show, however, the audience seems to die out a bit — although Gallagher is not having any of it, demanding one last “ciiircleee piiiiiit!!!’’ to finish things oof. One cannot really blame the audience — this evening has really been a show of death metal force with a very high technical level, where one must pay attention to, or at least try to grasp the intensity and speed on show tonight. Sadly, not all has been pitch-perfect this evening, but with ‘Fetus ending on such a high note, I’d still say it has definitely been worth the trip.

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