On March 9th the Decibel Tour landed in Massachusetts, so close to me that I just had to go no matter the circumstances. With many thanks to the wonderful folks of Earsplit PR and the opportunity I’ve had to write for Metal Utopia, I was put on the guest list and given a photo pass for the event. The Palladium is where all the action was going to take place; a fairly sizeable city, Worcester, MA is its home right on the main street with surprisingly easy parking. Right inside the venue splits into an upstairs where there is a small bar, a small, but not tiny, stage, and a loft area above. Below was the main stage which is an excellent place for this kind of meeting of death metal greats; more than enough space for the mass of humanity that will no doubt arrive, and the main-stage in the venue is multi-level, giving everyone a clear view of the action with plenty of places to comfortably lean and enjoy the show.
The festivities began with some acts in the upstairs venue; Afterimage, Begat the Nephilim, Beneath the Machine, and Screams of Hockomock. Each band played a few songs and were talented within their respective sub-genres, with Begat the Nephilim standing out for me as the most impressive. After these opening acts, everyone was moving downstairs to the main stage area. I made my rounds, collecting more merch than I walked in expecting to get, then I headed down to find a nice spot near a wing wall at stage left. My fiancé and I found the best spot in the house, especially considering I had a photo pass; I had a direct line of sight to the photo area and was able to head in and out as needed thanks to the Palladium’s staff.
Up first was Blood Incantation and I feel the need to open this with a confession, I went to see them; I saw them once in Worcester last year at a different venue and I was floored. I’ve been a fan since discovering Starspawn, and going back to get their EP as well, but I had no idea how incredibly well their long songs translate live. At the Palladium it was no different, watching them and viewing the audience is like seeing a magic trick being pulled off; the whole crowd undulates and moves as if under the control of the atmospheric/technical death metal these masters execute. The performance was nothing less than flawless and I honestly didn’t expect anything else; every song was incredible and the ebb and flow of the momentum moved through the crowd like a wave.
Necrot was next up on the stage, and the three-piece sounded much larger than their light line-up; a huge flag hung in the background lending to the larger-than-life image of the whole, as they pounded and roared through the audience. I was familiar with them from their latest album Blood Offerings, so I was prepared for some fast and aggressive death metal; what I was pleasantly surprised by was how fantastic they were, firing of every riff, pound, and blast with unreal precision. The whole band was incredible to watch, but I have to point out how Chad, the drummer, never stops moving; I’m amazed I managed to get any pictures of him that weren’t a complete blur. After getting a few more pictures, and thoroughly deafened, I retreated back into the crowd to enjoy the rest of their set.
A flag was raised on the backdrop, and two screens were placed in from of the cabs, all to set the stage for Immolation; the third act up, and the first of the classic death metal acts on this night. The band entered to a thunderous roar from the entire crowd, a collective sound nearly rivaling the loudest noises heard that night. Without much wait, and minimal introduction as none was necessary, they began their brand of steamrolling death metal. Some of the deepest riffs, subterranean bass lines, unearthly growls, and cement shattering drums came blasting forth; it is an interesting experience, having your cloths react independently to the sheer force of the music. Every song was better than the last, piling the expectations for the next absurdly high, and yet Immolation demolish that puny assumption while crushing you into a fine smiling dust. I got to interact briefly with Ross while I picked up a large patch, and it is worth mentioning how incredibly kind and genuine he is on top of being an outstanding death metal front-man.
Slightly obscured by Immolation’s flag, you could see the bottom of the huge creature that adorned the cover of the latest full-length; the smoke, the lower torso and a menacing hand, the rest hidden until the flag was completely revealed. A bearded demon rising from the earth with the remnants of society still on its shoulders; Morbid Angel entered the stage and the place erupted, incoherent shouting from all corners, a mass rush to the front as everyone awaited the first note. This classic death metal act has undergone many line-up changes since beginning in ’83, but this was my first opportunity to see them live, so I can’t compare. Morbid Angel immediately show why they are a classic, everything their cranked out was death metal perfection; switching guitars between songs, playing the deep cuts as well as the more well-known tracks, Morbid Angel was here to please the fans. The staying power of this band was also on full display, from the immaculate show they put on, to the talents of the individuals, it isn’t any wonder that they have been around so long.
The Decibel Tour was a great event from the bottom up, everyone I encountered by way of the staff was very nice and helpful, and all of the attendees were ecstatic to be there. The bands are all preposterously great and well worth your time and effort to go see them; Blood Incantation is on a list of bands that I’ll go see every time they are near, and now so are Necrot, Immolation, and of course, Morbid Angel.