The 2015 Decibel Tour is still just under two months away, but it’s cold and terrible out (grim in a bad way), and you deserve some righteous news before the weekend. We have six outstanding, hand-picked regional openers who will get the party started in advance of At the Gates, Converge, Pallbearer and Vallenfyre’s trail of fire. Hopefully you’re lucky enough to be in the vicinity of one of these super-sized tour dates. Let’s get to know these animals.
San Francisco, CA
Saturday, March 28
At the Gates, Converge, Pallbearer and Vallenfyre have travelled a lot of miles in many directions on the extreme music spectrum. In an era where bands greedily mash genres into context-free pulp, it’s refreshing to hear one that manages their influences with grace and actual innovation. So, who better to open the San Francisco show than (deliberately) label-less Cormorant? “Diversity has always been a huge part of our sound,” says guitarist Matt Solis (one of team dB’s most productive editorial acquisitions last year). “It’s not out of the ordinary to hear melodeath, hardcore, OSDM and doom influences in just one of our songs! Plus, being from the Bay Area, we’ve played shows with all types of bands for all types of audiences, so we’re used to being the odd man out.” The San Rafael four-piece traded vocalist/bassist Arthur von Nagel for counterpart Marcus Loscombe in 2013, but didn’t lose a beat on last year’s third full-length, Earth Diver, which continues to broaden their never predictable/always arresting sound. “We’ve been incorporating a lot more doom into our sound in the last few years,” Solis says. “Maybe we could get together [with Pallbearer] for a Candlemass cover or something!”
Monday, March 30
Taman Shud, the title of this Vancouver, B.C. three-piece’s second full-length, may translate to “ended” or “finished” (it was written on a note in an unidentified, poisoned Australian corpse’s jacket pocket in 1949), but the blasting, unrepentantly dour death metallers are just getting started. Last June’s Profound Lore debut turned/twisted/decapitated heads with what we called “baneful guitars, blasting drums and grunted adoration for [Lovecraft’s] At the Mountains of Madness” back in the July issue. Guitarist/vocalist Sebastian Montesi is excited to bring “something entirely different” to a lineup that ping-pongs schizophrenically between melodeath, hardcore, old-school death metal and doom. While Auroch are understandably looking forward to sharing the stage with labelmates Pallbearer, volatility fuels them. “This past September, we played Incubate Festival in Holland, and of the 300 bands, only 30 or so were heavy metal,” Montesi notes. “We enjoy playing our music to a broad variety of people, and feel it translates well.”
Tuesday, March 31
Joe Axler has been a vital component of Seattle’s metal scene for over a decade—most prominently in Decibel-approved blackened death metal squad Book of Black Earth—but the drummer is taking a different approach with Theories: catastrophic deathgrind that has stolen its share of thunder opening for the likes of Cattle Decapitation and Pig Destroyer. And since grindcore is by and large absent on this iteration of the Decibel Tour, Axler’s looking forward to blasting early birds into submission. “I feel as though there are so many bands in the world and so many styles and subgenre styles of music that any time you go on tour or see a smaller tour package, promoters will fill the bill with every band in their respective towns that sound exactly like the touring bands,” the Queens native points out. “This gets so boring! This bill is extremely eclectic and is composed of all bands that I myself and the rest of Theories are fans of! It makes for the kinda show that we would wanna see, start to finish; we’re super honored to be able to be a part of it!”
Friday, April 3
The world is easily impressed by two-man bands “making as much noise” as a more conventional guitar/bass/drums/didgeridoo setup. In this case, the world is right fucking on. Denver duo In the Company of Serpents administer lethal doses of “grimy, viscous sludge” influenced by, well, basically everything grimy and viscous in our Top 100 Doom Metal Bands of All Time issue. Pallbearer may make you cry later in the evening, but ITCOS will make you cry for mercy. Frontman Grant Netzorg is most excited to see the “grim and driving” attack of pond-crossing savages Vallenfyre, but notes, “Every band on this lineup brings visceral, no-bullshit heavy music to the table, regardless of what genre they might be classified as. I think audiences are less polarized by genre these days as well; if it’s heavy and genuine, people don’t care as much what sort of bow you put on it, and this sort of lineup is a testament to that.” Expect paralyzing slow jams from last December’s EP, Merging in Light.
Thursday, April 9
Gorguts, Cryptopsy, Kataklysm, Beyond Creation: When it comes to death metal, it’s safe to say Quebec knows what the fuck it’s doing. So, no pressure on Montreal upstarts Phobocosm, who unleashed debut Deprived (Dark Descent) last September. Except we really mean that. The quartet eliminates all pressure by maintaining the lowest of low profiles, going only by their initials and embracing full immersion in their craft. But they’re not operating in a vacuum—they just sound like a vacuum, their relentless barrage more often than not bringing to mind the terrifying Portal. Guitarist S.D. imagines that Phobocosm will fit right in to the Montreal show’s lunacy. “I think there’s a significant dose of old-school death metal and doom in our sound, so at least a good portion of the audience shouldn’t really be taken aback by our performance and by our music. They might even like what they hear.”
Saturday, April 11
This Neill Jameson guy, he’s everywhere (ugh). Flip back a few pages for his caustic new monthly Low Culture column. Consult the Deciblog for his painfully honest missives about life as an independent record store clerk. Hit his Facebook page for deep thoughts on Deafheaven blankets. But you wouldn’t be exposed to all of that if it weren’t for the man’s music, and last year’s Transient (number 15 on our Top 40 Albums of 2014 list) is evocative of untraditional influences that far exceed that of the stereotypical USBM miserablist. So, he should be right at home opening the Philly show: “I’ve become tired of doing the same thing over and over for 20 years,” Jameson notes. “Seeing a bunch of kids in corpsepaint playing a sports bar behind a Bud Lite sign gets old after a minute. Plus, my own musical tastes are fairly diverse, which is showing through into my own writing, so doing a diverse billing can be exciting. Or tragic. We’ll go with exciting.” As for why the kids should show up early for Krieg’s set and not get stoned in the parking lot, “There’s a court a few blocks away so there’s a lot of police. Seeing us is a modicum better than getting arrested, I suppose.”