Words & Photos by James Alvarez
Morbid Angel and Suffocation are two of the most celebrated death metal bands of all time. Revocation and Withered have released some of the raddest metal records of the last decade. All four bands, touring together on one bill? That’s a no-brainer as far as metal shows are concerned. Morbid Angel’s triumphant, uh, rebirth tour [more on that later] rolled through Los Angeles’ Regent Theater last weekend and is easily a contender for concert of the year.
Withered opened the night with their pulverizing blackened death metal assault. Their music is heavy, chaotic and borderline creepy. Taking elements from a plethora of metal subgenres and mixing them into a dystopic whirlwind of noise, Withered’s set at The Regent was a masterclass in atmospherics. The band spent the evening headbanging in the shadows, conjuring sonic spells through the PA to the delight of everyone inside.
While Withered’s music is dark and murky, Revocation’s high octane thrash inspired tunes are nothing short of dazzling. Imagine Individual Thought Patterns era Death jamming on some Rust In Peace era Megadeth and that’s Revocation’s blindingly fast technical attack in a nutshell. The crowd inside The Regent went bonkers as the band ripped through modern day classics like “Scorched Earth Policy” and turned the crowded floor into a giant circle pit on multiple occasions.
The mighty Suffocation were up next. Promoting their brand new album, …Of The Dark Light and boasting a slamming new lineup, this latest incarnation of New York’s favorite/heaviest sons proved that Suffocation are pretty much unstoppable. Their setlist was filled with classics and some killer new songs as well, but it really didn’t matter, Suffocation could have come out and played the phone book and the sold out crowd inside The Regent would have moshed to it. The band’s new live vocalist Kevin Muller had a ton of energy onstage and packed a ferocious death metal growl to boot. His New York accent even felt reminiscent of original Suffocation growler, the legendary Frank Mullen. The band’s new drummer Eric Morotti is a total shredder behind the kit, handling the crazy fast/technical parts from the Dave Culross era with ease. Terrance Hobbs’ guitar solos were spot on the entire night, and watching bassist Derek Boyer literally break his neck all night still boggles the mind after all these years. “Liege of Inveracity” was the absolute highlight of the evening, because it’s the heaviest song in the universe the final breakdown groove never gets old. Ever.
Finally, the return of the unholy Morbid Angel was upon us. There’s been a little drama in the Morbid Angel camp as of late, with a new rival squad of Morbid disciples led by ex-frontman David Vincent playing the band’s classic 1980’s and 90’s catalog, having recently entered the game. Well, Morbid Angel went on and thrived with Steve Tucker fronting the band the first time Vincent left in the 90’s, and if their uncanny performance at The Regent is any indication, they’re ready to do so again. Playing only material from Tucker’s tenure with the band [songs from Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, Gateways to Annihilation and Heretic exclusively], Morbid Angel all but crushed The Regent to pieces. Morbid Angel have been killing it for over thirty years now and have a diverse and kind of rabid fan base. There’s an entire generation of Morbid Angel fans who came on board during the Tucker years who haven’t heard these songs in forever. Needless to say, the crowd inside the venue was pumped. Tucker’s voice shook the walls and legendary guitar wizard and band leader Trey Azagthoth’s otherworldly playing shattered psyches. From the opening notes of “Summoning Redemption” it was clear that the kings of death metal were back. Long live the morbid kings.
Morbid Angel Tour Dates:
Jun. 20 – Phoenix, AZ – Marquee
Jun. 21 – Albuquerque, NM – Sunshine
Jun. 23 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues
Jun. 24 – Austin, TX – Grizzly Hall
Jun. 25 – Houston, TX – House of Blues
Jun. 27 – New Orleans, LA – House of Blues