The Decibel tour is always a must see event when it tours around the US every year, previous incarnations have seen the legendary likes of Carcass, At The Gates, Abbath, Obituary and Kreator play alongside a stellar cast of established and up and coming metal favourites.
2019s tour was no different but whereas previous tours mixed up different metal styles, (At The Gates/Converge/Pallbearer for example) this year’s tour kept it strictly bloodthirsty with a pure death metal bill and adds two legendary bands in the shape of genre royalty headliners in Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel, who top a tantalisingly brutal bill alongside two of the freshest death metal bands on the planet, Necrot and Blood Incantation.
We caught the tour when it stopped at the PlayStation Theater in New York City in what has to be the heaviest bill to hit the Big Apple in some time and since all four bands have a fearsome reputation in the live arena, it was with great anticipation we entered the venue to anticipate the impending deathly aural chaos. The venue is just off Times Square and while the bright lights shone and busy crowds of sightseers went about their business, the metal hordes descended upon The PlayStation Theater and with a more than healthy crowd from the very start, Blood Incantation opened up the nights festivities and proceeded to play a short but precise and savage set that started the night off well. The Denver band wanted no time in showcasing their take on death metal with an astral twist, with material from their debut album Starspawn making up the bulk of their set before the band finish with new song “Slave Species Of The Gods”, and if this song is any indication of the new material, then their forthcoming second album is going to be both storming and a firm favourite for Blood Incantation fans.
Necrot were up next and the Oakland band have been making waves both in death metal circles and beyond for some time now and their appearance on the Decibel Tour was definitely highly anticipated. It’s safe to say that they didn’t disappoint in the slightest and also that the future of death metal is in safe hands with these guys. The band also played a short set but, like Blood Incantation, they made the most of it and went for the jugular from the get-go, ripping through tracks from their debut album Blood Offerings like The Blade and Empty Hands and selected tracks from the EPs Into The Labyrinth and The Abyss with aplomb and made a big impression on the New York crowd. Necrot certainly kept the energy levels raised right up and are definitely on the ascent in the metal world with their tight and focussed death metal.
When it comes to forces of nature in the death metal universe, then the mighty Morbid Angel are right up there with the best bands that have come out of death metal and they were treated to a heroes welcome as soon as they hit the stage. As co-headliners of this tour, they lived up to their billing and delivered an epic set that took in all stages of their career and despite the lineup changes the band have faced, this was as tight and well executed as you would expect from such a legendary band and they played an immense set, with all members firing on all cylinders with ease.
Morbid Angel kick off their set with material from their last album Kingdoms Disdained and fire through the first four numbers of their set without pause and these songs show exactly what a formidable frontman, vocalist and bassist Steve Tucker is and how natural it is for him to be back fronting the band.
Tucker jokes to the crowd that he wouldn’t have believed he’d be seeing death metal in a place like this and the two thousand fans in attendance respond in kind before the frontman dedicates “Nothing Is Not” from Formulas Fatal To The Flesh to NY death metal legends Suffocation who are in attendance and the track is played faultlessly with stellar performances in particular from guitarists Trey Azagathoth and Dan Vadim Von.
From then on, Morbid Angel delve into their back catalogue to the delight of the New York crowd with songs like “Day Of Suffering”, “Abominations” and “Unholy Blasphemies” from Blessed Are The Sick and “Blasphemy” from Altars Of Madness getting roars of approval and the pit going mad when they are played. Further shoutouts are dedicated to the opening bands as they are hailed as the future of death metal and this just adds to the celebratory atmosphere in the air. The Morbid Angel deathly groove is out in full force tonight and the band are simply mesmerizing in their delivery and as they finish off their set with “Architect And Iconoclast” from their last album sandwiched inbetween the Covenant classics “God Of Emptiness” and “Blood On My Hands”, it is clear that New York has witnessed a death metal masterclass.
A lot of metal bands would struggle to follow such a performance but Cannibal Corpse are such a legendary death metal band and a force unto themselves, that they bulldoze this last set of the night and unleash utter brutality as only they can and this is as much of a hometown show for the Buffalo band and what a way to do it, in front of thousands of metal maniacs.
As soon as they hit the stage with George Corpsegrinder Fisher headbanging in his own inimitable style, as the band start the carnage and he proves once again that he’s one of, if not THE best frontmen in the history of death metal.
Like Morbid Angel, they start their set with a flurry of new material from their latest album Red Before Black as circle pits erupt immediately and crowdsurfers rain down from all angles with the opening “Code Of The Slashers” and albums title track being particularly vicious.
What follows is a lesson in death metal, and that means straight headbanging madness and some of the finest dm tracks their has ever been, delivered by a mean and lean Cannibal Corpse armed with a precise and tight sound that makes their aural violence sound even more joyous.
Tracks like “Evisceration Plague”, “Scourge Of Iron” and especially an immense rendition of “Staring Through The Eyes Of The Dead” are treated like long lost friends and the crowd goes even more berserk as the set rages on. Cannibal Corpse have been aided on this run by the addition of guitarist Erik Rutan and he puts in a storming performance alongside the rest of the band, with the likes of The Wretched Spawn, “Devoured By Vermin” and “A Skull Full Of Maggots” being expertly performed to the delight of the audience.
Corpsegrinder is a man of few words, doing his talking as he roars out the bloodthirsty lyrics but does say a few words when passionately thanking the audience, fellow bands and crew for making the tour such a success and as this is Cannibal Corpses last night on the Decibel Tour (Fellow NY death metallers Immolation took over for the rest of the tour after tonight) they certainly went out with a bang. The band finish their set with “I Cum Blood” and “Make Them Suffer” before Fisher teases the audience and asks them if they want to hear more before “Stripped, Raped And Strangled” and the inevitable brutality of “Hammer Smashed Face” ends an immense set by these legends in the game and a phenomenal night of death metal.
As Cannibal Corpse leave the stage to deafening cheers, it’s safe to say that the crowd have had an unforgettable night witnessing the past, present and future of death metal and proved without doubt that it has been the heaviest bill that New York City has experienced in some time.