Friday, October 30, 2015

Concert Review: Vital Remains at the Phoenix Theater

Photo of Sepulchre

    Sonoma County Metal and Hardcore really brought something satanically special to the Phoenix Theater last night. Six bands who all offered some extreme headbanging and mosh pit forming music took to the stage for one epic show. Ever since the show was announced, I had been anticipating the chance to see and hear these six bands decimate the Phoenix Theater with their sheer brutal force. Sure enough, they did just that last night and really gave the crowd a show to remember.

    When arriving at the venue I could tell everyone was in good metal spirits. I was glad to see a decently sized turnout that seemed to grow as the night progressed. The six bands billed were Sepulchre, Barren Altar, Embryonic Devourment, The Kennedy Veil, Necronomicon and the headliner...Vital Remains. Being an old school death metal band that has released a fair amount of albums, one would expect Vital Remains to attract more older metal fans. However, there was a mix of old and new fans with one fan being twelve years old. Another example of parenting done right by having your kid listen to awesome extreme music like Vital Remains.

    Kicking off the show on the side stage of the concert venue was Sonoma County’s young ambitious progressive death metal trio, Sepulchre. Having seen them three times before, I was thrilled to see them open this show. There was a decent amount of people who came early, so Sepulchre was greeted with a loud response once they tore into their first song. Playing in a lower tuning to add an even heavier tone to their songs, the band threw down some thunderous jams. Introducing two new songs, “Iniquitous Indiscipline” and “Immolated Conscience,” the guys seemed to be having a grand old time on stage and the music flowed naturally. I really want them to keep exploring their musical creativity, because the new material sounds great. Of course, “Destiny Destroyer,” is a song they should always keep around since the riffs in that song, especially the guitar solo, literally annihilate my mind every time.

    Second up and switching over to the main stage was Embryonic Devourment from Willits, CA. This technical death metal group really put on a blazing set. Their drummer seemed as if his mind was specifically programmed to perform technical blasts on his kit. The guy was sweating profusely by the end of the set! Overall though they delivered an extremely tight sounding performance. The bass player/vocalist was running around the stage banging his head, while the guitarist shredded his way on an amazing looking white guitar. The crowd was definitely beginning to come alive and the front of the stage maintained a passionate amount of energy during the band’s set.

    Once Embryonic Devourment finished their last song, everyone’s attention went back to the side stage where the third band had already set up and was ready to go. Taking the third slot was, Barren Altar, a blackened death doom band who puts on one haunting ritualistic display of soul crushing music. I could already smell the incense burning towards the end of Embryonic Devourment’s set, and by now Barren Altar had the candles out and were ready to destroy. Once that first riff hit with a force like two planets colliding, I felt instantly drawn to the heavy doom atmosphere. The band’s singer would hit himself with the mic before unleashing a brutal growl to cover the sinister slow compositions. Their final song, which was well over ten minutes, featured some brilliant dynamic parts. I saw the band put on a great set about a month ago, and somehow they were able to execute an even better one last night!

    After Barren Altar finished, the final three bands all performed on the main stage. Fourth up on the night was, The Kennedy Veil, who are one of two bands on tour right now with Vital Remains. The Sacramento, CA based band received plenty of roars from the crowd when they started their first song. They played some technical slamming death metal riffs and sounded pretty solid. Also, the singer maintained great stage presence by constantly interacting with the crowd. He had a strong death growl too, so the brutality from their songs never ended. I think the band has a good formula going, but I would like to hear maybe a little more variation in their songs.

    Once the Kennedy Veil walked off stage, the Phoenix staff and next band were ready to set up. Necronomicon, from Eastern Canada, was a black metal trio who at times conveyed some death metal elements. Dressed as traditional black metal warriors with corpse paint similar to that of Immortal, the band delivered a true frost bitten brutal sounding live show. I especially liked when the guitarist and bassist would headbang in unison. The drummer was wearing chainmail and perfectly playing intense blast beat rhythms. During the band's entire set the audience was going crazy and throwing the horns up. I think the crowd appreciated how far this band had come to play and the black metal style that they have made for an epic live set.

    Finally, the blasphemous death metal lords in Vital Remains were ready to give the concert attendees at the Phoenix Theater a lesson in satanic death metal. I swear, once the band hit the stage and began their first song, the energy in the place was massive. The band’s singer kept trying to get the crowd more ravenous and by the end of the night people were dog tired from all the headbanging and moshing. Vital Remains band simply sound great the whole time on stage. Their lead guitarist was shredding through quick scales and played with tremendous fluidity. To cap off the night, the band was able to create a wall of death and towards the end of their set the crowd began ripping apart a bible that some fan had brought.

    Truly an extreme Thursday night of heavy metal music at the Phoenix Theater. All six bands deserve tremendous respect for their hard work on stage. Of course, the fans deserve credit for coming out and giving their full support. I really hope we see more shows in the same vein as this one. Also, I hope more Sonoma County metal fans continue to find their way out to these awesome shows. More metal maniacs equals larger pits of moshing chaos... Hey, beats going to church! \m/

Photo of Necronomicon

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review that gives readers what you experienced last night at the Phoenix. Sounds like a memorable night for Metal in Sonoma County.