On Tuesday of this week, my two NCS co-founders and I, plus other friends, attended the SUMMER SLAUGHTER tour stop in Seattle at a venue called The King Kat Theater. The doors opened at around 2:30 and the show went on until something like 11:30. I’d seen many of the bands before, the exceptions being Within the Ruins, Oceano, Powerglove, Six Feet Under — and the band I wanted to see most of all, Fleshgod Apocalypse.
When something is blatantly obvious, it’s best just to admit it. So yes, I admit, I’m a Fleshgod Apocalypse pimp. I’m talkin’ about the kind of BIG PIMPIN‘ that Jay-Z had in mind. I pimp FA at every fuckin’ opportunity I get here at NCS. So, it will come as no surprise that although I found something to like about most of the performances I saw, the highlight of the tour for me was FA’s set (followed closely by a skull-collapsing performance from Dying Fetus). I even got to meet three of the guys in FA and bore them with conversation after they played!
I also took a shitload of amateurish photos of FA’s performance, including the one up above and about two dozen more (the best of a sorry lot) that I’ve posted after the jump. But before getting to that, I have a few awards to hand out (also after the jump). And at the end, I’ve got a link to an audio stream that just appeared today for a new song from FA’s forthcoming album (it’s called “The Egoism”).
Best Drummer Attire: Powerglove’s Bassil Silver, who sported two of those flag thingies sticking up out of his back that you see on medieval Japanese warriors in Akira Kurosawa movies, but with skulls on top of the poles. They bobbed around as he hammered on his kit during Powerglove’s strange set. Awesome.
Most Geeked-Out, Non-Metal Metal Set of the Night: Yes, this award goes to Powerglove again. Songs performed, as best my friends and I could figure out: Theme song from the X-Men cartoon show, Megamen theme song, theme music from the Mortal Kombat game (before this one, the band passed balloon swords and mallets into the audience so that battle could be done along with the music), Tetrix music, and the music to Super Smash Bros.
Most Intimidating Frontman: Adam Warren (Oceano). Say what you want about Oceano’s music, the dude is a magnetic presence on stage. Refreshingly, he got this award without resorting (much) to the usual deathcore macho-posturing. I’m pretty sure he didn’t call me a motherfucker even one time.
Most Inhuman Drum Performance: This one is a tie between FA’s Francesco Paoli and Dying Fetus’s Trey Williams. If I’ve ever seen more blazingly fast yet tightly controlled drum assaults on stage before, I’ve forgotten it. Absolutely jaw-dropping shit. It’s possible these guys are cyborgs.
The Soldiering On Through Adversity Award: This one goes to FA. The band’s sound depends on the dual vocals provided by growler Tommaso Riccardi and operatic tenor Paolo Rossi. In the category of “shit happens”, Paolo’s mic suffered an irreparable failure almost from the beginning of FA’s set — but he and Tommaso just traded off on the latter’s mic, kind of like tag-team wrestlers. They didn’t miss a beat.
Well, enough with the awards. More about FA (yes, there will always be more). They played early, following only one local band and Within the Ruins. They’re not nearly as well known here in the U.S. as most of the bands on this tour. But they got a hell of an enthusiastic reception from the crowd, which built to a full roar by the time FA finished their way-too-short set.
FA are not the only band to incorporate symphonic elements into their music, but they’re the only band I’ve heard who meld them (and integrate them so ingeniously) with white-hot, blast-furnace, jet-fueled, technically demanding death metal. It was gratifying to find out that they pull off this feat as well on stage as they do in the studio. “Face-melting” doesn’t begin to do it justice.
With their down-at-the-heels baroque formal attire and their blackened faces, they generated a lot of curiosity before beginning. By the time they finished, they were generating lots of “Holy Fuck!” comments, and I heard people talking about them off and on the rest of the night.
Happily, it turns out they are really nice people, too. Without meaning to stalk them, I went out the side entrance of the venue (the one used by the bands to load and unload gear) almost an hour after their set to have a smoke, and there I ran into vocalist and lead guitarist Tommaso Ricardi, bassist and co-vocalist Paolo Rossi, and that inhuman drum machine, Francesco Paoli. They all professed to know and like NCS (which of course made me blush, even accounting for the possibility that they were just being polite), and they seemed to be enjoying the hell out of this tour. They spent the first 5 minutes apologizing profusely for the microphone difficulties during their set — not being petulant or pissed off, but actually apologizing for something that wasn’t their fault.
I spent the most time talking with Tommaso, and he couldn’t have been friendlier (very fluent in English, too). He does an effective job projecting a gruff death-metal persona on stage, but he’s got an infectious megawatt smile that was on display the whole time we talked. It really wasn’t an “interview” — I wasn’t prepared for one, had no tape-recorder, and was too much in fanboy mode to ask anything intelligent anyway. We talked about the tour in general (the band have been very pleasantly surprised at how many people seem to know who FA is and how positive the crowd reactions have been so far), Seattle’s music scene and history (Tommaso is a big fan of Eddie Vedder and hoped against hope that he might see him walking the streets), the beastly weather likely to be encountered on most of the remaining stops on this tour once it leaves the California coast, my adoration for FA’s music, and other similarly non-newsworthy topics.
In a nutshell, if you have a chance to see this tour, it’s definitely worth seeing. And get there early, because you don’t want to miss FA’s set, believe me. And now, here are some more photos. Just remember, if you think these are half-assed, you should see the 300 others I took which didn’t make the cut.
UPDATE: Well, what a coincidence. Today, Nuclear Blast has debuted another song from FA’s new album. The track is called “The Egoism” and you can listen to it by using THIS LINK and looking for the music player in the upper right quadrant of that page. Now, onward to the crappy photos . . .