Enfold Darkness / Inferi / Destroy Destroy Destroy / Sleep Terror / Suffocation
The Muse – Nashville, TN
Oh the woes of attending a non-air-conditioned club on a hot and humid summer evening in the south-eastern United States. A woe that appeared all the more painful due to the nature of this five-band concert in which four of the five scheduled performers were already known failures. So why not arrive late? Surprisingly, there is a definite draw to witnessing on-stage ineptitude: simply stated, when taking in the failures of misguided individuals, one seemingly gains a greater sense of appreciation for the accomplishments of truly successful people. Analogically (and mythically) speaking, the post-show feelings from attending such an event are like that of a man that cherishes more his stay in heaven because he has witnessed hell firsthand.
And so the hellions took to the stage, as the show began with what was apparently a “best of” offering from the middle Tennessee metal scene (at least, this author assumes so, given the fact that both Inferi and Destroy Destroy Destroy fulfilled the “local bands” role at the Nashville, TN stop on a Cryptopsy/Suffocation tour that took place last Thanksgiving). Sonically speaking, this pathetic triumvirate seemed content in pumping out ample amounts of regurgitated, sugary-sweet melodic hooks--as popularized by bands like Children of Bodom and In Flames--while also making sure to throw in one or two trite breakdowns/mosh riffs for all the scene kids sporting trendy haircuts and -core band shirts and the wiggers wearing wife-beaters and backwards ball-caps. Embarrassingly, all three bands displayed an egregious sense of showmanship, with Destroy Destroy Destroy--the last and least technical of the three bands--even going so far as to set up their own light/fog apparatus and dress their sword-wielding singer in a bullet-belt-supported loincloth and studded wrist-bands as a part of what appeared to be a calculated attempt to hide their musical inability. Not surprisingly, the between-song banter from these three scene-monkeys was spent either reminding the crowd to ironically “buy our shit” or simply slandering those of us in the audience that stood stoically, unimpressed with the silly stage antics and recycled Gothencore crap that these bands were attempting to pass off as purchase-worthy music. Essentially, the elated reactions from the hipsters and high-school kids that made up these bands’ small but loyal followings seemed to indicate what some of us in the crowd surely suspected: this group of musicians were not artists, they were performers attempting to hide their complete lack of artistic vision by pandering to the less-demanding audience members among us with their uninspired, overly simplified, and sickeningly saccharine melodies, Neanderthal mosh breaks, and superfluous stage-show.
Thankfully, there was but one musical element from the opening bands that would carry over into the first set from this tour’s two national acts: specifically, it involves the ease with which the majority of the audience members were impressed and pleased by not-so-simple acts of instrumental prowess. Of the three local bands, only Inferi seemed to possess the musical skill necessary to incite idiotic rushes of flailing fingers into the personal space of guitarists whenever a “shredding solo” or silly, sweep-picked/arpeggiated portion came up mid-song. With Sleep Terror, such moments did not simply occur in the middle of every song, but almost entirely throughout songs. For the uninformed reader, Sleep Terror, is the latest addition to a long list of trendy, highly technical, and “experimental”/”progressive” death metal bands who disguise their lack of true musical talent with a flamboyant, self-indulgent veneer of meaningless, musical complexity. To go into greater detail, this Seattle-based, instrumental duo typically juxtapose three different types of passages to form their songs: circuitous, highly hollow “death metal” riffs, haphazard “jazz” interludes, and humorously dumbed-down “mosh riffs.” Naturally, this mishmash of musical ideas is so spiritless and incoherent that the music itself should have no chance of impressing any listener that possesses a speck of intelligence and/or musical standards. But of course, with a musical approach that’s built around a “something for every-idiot” mantra, it was not surprising to see so many people speaking positively about Sleep Terror and/or rushing down to the merchandise table to scoop up a self-esteem-boosting CD/t-shirt in the post-set setting. With that said, this audience member has to admit that, if nothing else, it was somewhat refreshing to watch a pair of honest musicians perform a “metal” set with zero posing/posturing and some semblance of ambition, regardless of how horribly misguided that ambition is (as an aside, the character of modern metal is clearly on life-support when such a spiritless performance can elicit any type of positive response from an enlightened onlooker).
Performing last and representing the pinnacle of professionalism was the mighty Suffocation. Having just snapped two large bones in his right leg on the night of 6/6/06, the band’s bassist, Derek Boyer--who hobbled around the venue on crutches since he cannot and will not be able to walk for another month or so--impressively performed the entire set seated in an uncomfortable-looking stool-cum-chair, playing his bass in an upright, cello-esque style, with the base of its body resting on what appeared to be a cinder-block. Along with the audience, Boyer and his band-mates sweated through an hour-long set in borderline-unbearable heat, performing with a passion and sincerity that was noticeably absent in all three of the local acts. Ears throughout the venue were ringing with ecstasy, as Frank Mullen’s vocals felt much more forceful in this live setting than they have been on the last two Suffocation records, while the two remaining founding-members, Terrance Hobbs and Mike Smith, pounded out interlocking drum/guitar rhythms with a powerful precision. Hobbs in particular was a pleasure to observe, as his hands moved hypnotically over a sweat-soaked guitar while his head swayed and bobbed in-time to the intricate, percussive attack. While watching this ensemble perform, it was easy to see the shared, spiritual connection between each of the individual band mates and the energy waves emanating from the band’s various amplifiers--something that was sadly missing from their peers that night. Shameless, repetitive self-promotion, foolish rock-posturing, and other types of childish, on-stage behavior were appreciatively absent from Suffocation’s set. In fact, the lone flaw in Suffocation’s performance was the fact that their set list was seemingly too extensive, with only two/three songs each coming from the band’s “classic” albums (i.e., “Effigy of the Forgotten” and “Pierced From Within”), a single selection from the overlooked masterwork (un)known as “Breeding the Spawn,” and one/two songs coming from the band’s remaining, less-menacing material; ideally, songs from the band’s rushed 2004 release “Souls to Deny” should have been excluded, but then again, I suppose it is a bit of a bore for a band as long-running as Suffocation to play the same “classic” songs at every show for over fifteen years now.
As a humbled servant of God might return from a trip through hell with a hearty thanks to extend towards his overlord, so to must I offer my gratitude towards the saintly members of Suffocation; your presence at this show certainly shone the light upon all the unrighteous individuals in attendance (both on and off the stage) and was truly an inspiration to this devout follower of the true metal cause. Carry on, gentlemen. Carry on.