Friday November 13 at the Phoenix Theater happened to be the perfect day for an all around behemoth of a metal show. Arriving early to the Phoenix Theater, there were already plenty of people lining up for the show and looking eager to get inside. This was a truly solid line-up featuring Hate Eternal as the headliner along with supporting acts Misery Index, Beyond Creation, Rivers of Nihil, Aenimus and Aberration. Anyone who went literally received their money’s worth in brutality and ear bursting riffs. Hell, my ears are still ringing...
Beginning the show on the side stage of the Phoenix was Sonoma County’s own, Aberration. One could tell the members in the band looked thrilled to be opening this awesome show. Once on stage, they pounded away at some wicked tracks and maintained a fierce edge the entire set. However, the other members could not compete with singer James Owen, who poured out almost every ounce of energy he had during the set. He was running around trying to the get the crowd moving while maintaining a strong vocal delivery. Although their set was not exactly long, I think the band was able to start the night off right and feed the early concert attendees’ a good old helping of melodic death metal.
After the Aberration’s set I decided to quickly go and get something to eat since I was extremely hungry. Luckily their was a Chinese restaurant a street over and I was able to order my food to go, so I would not miss the next band’s set. Upon returning to the Phoenix I came just in time for Rivers of Nihil’s first song. Finding a suitable place to eat, the top of a skateboard ramp on the side of the venue with a perfect view of the main stage, I was able to enjoy my food while Rivers of Nihil offered sounds of technical death metal brilliance. The band’s musicianship was extremely impressive and the compositions were crushing. The double riff assault from Brody Uttley and Jon Topore was in full effect the entire set. Bassist Adam Biggs was head banging constantly and drummer Alan Balamut was locked in behind the kit. Singer Jake Dieffenbach sounded great too as he growled his way through songs from the new album, “Monarchy,” which I made sure to buy before the night was over.
Rivers of Nihil finished their set to a thunderous applause from the audience and then concert goers huddled around the side stage for the third act, Aenimus. Another Sonoma County act, Aenimus tore through a set of technical slamming pieces. The band had a very modern metal/deathcore sound that is very popular I have noticed these days. Although I am not a particular fan of this style of metal, I will say that I respected the musicianship and passion the guys showed up on stage. Just like their fellow local act Aberration, Aenimus did a great job representing the Sonoma County Metal community.
When talking to a few people at the show about who they were interested in seeing, it seemed that the night’s fourth act, Beyond Creation, was a reoccurring answer. The technical progressive death metal musicians from Québec, Canada have been making a name for themselves as a band with unbelievable talent. Sure enough I witnessed that first hand when they began tearing away at their first song. The entire group played with amazing precision and sounded as though they were playing thousands of notes per second. I mean, the guitar tapping dual parts to the complex scale runs were out of this world. Lock me in a room for one-hundred years I do not think I would even come close to the skill level of Beyond the Creation’s two guitar players. Arguably one the most impressive technical live sets I have seen. The crowd was seriously losing their shit after each song!
While still trying to figure out how Beyond the Creation could be so damn musically insane, the fifth act Misery Index began setting up. The death metal dudes from Baltimore have been around since the early 2000s and continue to put out releases that receive fair praise. I thought they played a decent set and their drummer sounded really good behind his kit of double bass drum destruction. Also, the pit was getting more intense and that seemed to be accomplished by the band’s very straightforward hard hitting style of riffs. My only critique would be that the singer kept referring to the crowd as, “San Francisco.” Now, this can be an honest mistake since San Francisco is not too far from Petaluma, but I still felt like he should have known exactly where he was playing. Bit of a Spinal Tap moment one could say.
The final act of the night was Hate Eternal who were definitely an act I was anticipating on seeing along with a decent amount of other people at the Phoenix. Erik Rutan after leaving Morbid Angel formed Hate Eternal, and in my opinion is keeping the old school technical extreme metal formula going strong with each new release. Also, Erik’s other two band members are also very accomplished musicians with Hannes Grossmann on drums and J.J Hrubovcak on bass. Once they tore into the opening song, all hell broke loose on the venue floor. People were head banging furiously at the front of the stage and the mosh pit was an all out metal maniac zone. Hate Eternal did an awesome job balancing old songs with new songs in their set list to which fans seemed pleased no matter what. During the set Erik even dedicated a song to those who had lost their lives in the Paris, France terrorist attacks which happened the day of the concert. Overall, Hate Eternal was one of the most solid sounding live acts I have seen. The way that they conducted themselves on stage as players is something young metal bands should take note of if they want achieve a truly brutal and accomplished sound.
What more can I say about this concert? ...If you were in the Sonoma County and did not show up you really dropped the ball. Each of the six bands did not disappoint and the crowd was always demonstrating why metal fans are the most passionate music fans. From the young fans, to the old fans, and to the fans who walked around eating Chinese food, the metal community came out in full support at the Phoenix Theater. Hopefully there will continue to be more concerts like this one to come!
|Rivers of Nihil|