Show Review: Thy Art is Murder, Kublai Khan, and More at The Forge in Joliet, IL

Justice for the Damned kicked off the night after making a small jump across the pond to tour the states for the first time. Hailing from Australia, Justice for the Damned bring a brutal, soul-crushing sound that is the perfect opener for Thy Art is Murder.

Borrowing elements from metal, metalcore, and death metal, JFTD create a riff-laden and bone-busting sound that is reminiscent of early to mid-2000’s deathcore while still bringing new, fresh, modern twists. If you’re a fan of bands similar to old Parkway Drive, Kublai Khan, Malevolence, or Desolated, they are the perfect new band to check out.

I AM brought that Texas heat with them to Joliet. An incredible modern thrash band, I AM take the best elements of thrash and modern hardcore to create a sound holistically their own, known simply as, Texas death. What makes I AM even sicker is how you can see and hear their southern metal roots in their music and on-stage presence and charisma. Chock full of groovy riffs, face-melting solos, and southern metal grooves, I AM are a band who have continually gotten better and better each time I see them.

One of death metal’s newest modern juggernauts, Undeath, demonstrated why they are one of the best new metal bands helping lead this recent revolution of death metal alongside bands like 200 Stab wounds, Sanguisugabogg, etc. Simply put, Undeath are fun. Everything about them screams, “Let’s have a good time while rocking out to heavy riffs and gut-wrenching vocals.” You know, what metal is really about.

Undeath’s uniqueness doesn’t end here, though, because it wasn’t too long ago that they would have probably  suffered from heavy scrutiny by the metal community for not being “true death metal.” Due to this, Undeath have made it a primary point of their live performance and musical styling to make sure fun and enjoyment is at the center of their music, which carries a sense of irony to it as they sing about the horrors of death, destruction, and violence. Featuring the best elements of death metal—massive riffs, gory lyrics, blast beats, and fat breakdowns—Undeath bring crafty songwriting to the table alongside the token elements of death metal. I’m glad this is my third or fourth time seeing Undeath, and I hope it isn’t the last.

Texas heavyweights Kublai Khan, took the stage to deliver the most engaging and bludgeoning set of the night, prompting security to warn press in the photo pit of the on-coming flurry of crowd surfing that was about to come over the barricade once they started. I’ve seen Kublai Khan a few times over the years, and it’s incredible to see their continued growth with each tour in real time. Kublai Khan is here to take over, and they want you to know it.

Chock full of bone-rattling power, pummeling hardcore riffs, and intense vocals paired with brutally honest lyrics it makes sense why they resonate with listeners. It’s exactly this realness and down-to-earth approach Kublai Khan has is why they continue to grow musically and expand their fan base with each release and tour. Even after being a band for over a decade, Kublai Khan aren’t afraid to take on new challenges or switch it up, while still staying authentic to themselves. If you haven’t had a chance to see or check them, there’s no better time than now.

It’s always a bit of a double-edged sword when you go to a celebration tour for a specific album because you’re so excited to see an iconic record be played in full, but you’re also probably going to feel really old the whole time. Regardless, seeing Thy Art is Murder play their breakout record in full was a surreal experience, especially considering its massive impact when it first came out. It also fully sank in how this was one of those records for so many people that really pushed them into enjoying metal music more overall.

Hate is one of the best records to come out of the mid-2000s deathcore wave because it had the necessary brutality while adding technicality and complexity to the mix to create something new and unique authenticity. It was so sick to see songs be played live that are rarely played anymore or only ever played as an encore (if you’re lucky), such as “Reign of Darkness,” “The Purest Strain of Hate,” or “Vile Creations.”

It doesn’t end here, because even seeing songs that may not be crowd favorites at the time, but have become favorites by many fans, played live makes you appreciate them in a new light, especially in the context of the songs being 10 years old. Songs like “Dead Sun” or even “Doomed From Birth” held the same intensity as the fan favorites. Albums like Hate and bands like Thy Art is Murder really did carry the torch for so much modern metal today, and tours like this make you appreciate them in a new light. While it may be the perfect music for the end of humanity and the coming apocalypse, it’s also music that has united and empowered metal fans across all genres for a decade.

Thy Art is Murder

Justice for the Damned



Kublai Khan

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