Dec 132022

(Our Denver-based contributor Gonzo was in the right place at the right time for the Denver edition of the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest on December 2-3, and kindly provided us the following glowing report, complete with pairings and tqsting notes.)

Few pairings are quite as fine as loud music and weapons-grade fermented beverages.

And perhaps no publication has a better grasp of that fine tandem than Decibel, one of the few print magazines in heavy music that’s still going strong. Fortunately for those of us in the Rocky Mountains (and a good chunk of intrepid travelers), the good folks at Decibel announced this year that they’d be bringing their celebrated Metal & Beer Fest to Denver for the first time.

After soldiering through a glorious 48 hours of incredible music and outstanding ales, IPAs, stouts, lagers, porters, and everything in between, I can confidently say Decibel found the perfect location to invade for this festival. If only my eardrums and liver would agree.

photo by Matt Darcy

First thing’s first: I gotta give credit to Albert Mudrian and his magicians at the magazine for curating such an ambitious lineup for this. A healthy amount of local talent was showcased, both in the beer and music department alike, along with heavyweights Cannibal Corpse headlining the first night of the festivities. That’s not aiming small, by any means – it’s a pretty confident way of saying “we’re gonna sell this motherfucker out and we damn well know it,” and that prophecy was most certainly fulfilled.

Right upon walking into Summit at 6 pm after scrambling to finish work last Friday, the festival’s setup was impressive – a few of the guest breweries had taken over some taps in the main bar in the center of the venue, with several others peppered throughout both floors. Midwest malt maniacs 3 Floyds and War Pigs were the must-try choices down below, set up conveniently adjacent to the libations from local heroes Black Sky and Trve. Others, including Wake, Bone Up, Metal Monkey, and Brimming Horn Meadery rounded out the brew options on the first level of the venue.

Upstairs, more brews were to be discovered – Adroit Theory and Soundgrowler were lurking up there, pouring some limited-release gems that I knew I’d get into soon enough. And early arrivers would have the added advantage of a perfect view to the stage with unlimited pours of said gems. It’s hard to imagine a more ideal setup for two nights of shows.

As if that wasn’t enough, the merch selection was positively insane. Nuclear Blast, Metal Blade, Dark Descent, Profound Lore, Translation Loss, and indiemerchstore were peddling merch. Not only were all bands sporting their finest offerings, but Cannibal Corpse even featured a “Mile High Mutilation” concept shirt that was made exclusively for the festival. The army of zombies running down a mountain while feasting on the human flesh of skiers was all I needed to see to promptly say “shut up and take my money.” (What can I say, they didn’t make it this far without knowing their demographic.)


Kicking things off musically were In the Company of Serpents, the first of two Denver sludge trios that’d be warming us up from the 20-degree temperatures outside. The boys in Serpents always manage to fill a stage with more sound than should be conceivable for three humans, and tonight was no exception. “The Fool’s Journey” and “The Chasm at the Mouth of the All” laid some serious heavy groundwork for the rest of the evening. Their hypnotic set went by all too quickly, paving the way for Oryx to sonically bludgeon the rest of the onlookers who were already piling in.

Pairs well with:  Abyss Vienna Lager, Black Sky Brewing

A nice crushable wheat ale that could easily be mistaken for a Kolsch, this is a local staple.


When Oryx took the stage, bassist Eric Dodgion bellowed “we’re here to blow out your fucking eardrums,” and the next 25 minutes confirmed he wasn’t blowing smoke up anyone’s ass. The band’s glacially slow acid-washed sludge was just as potent as any 12% imperial stout you’d ever be brave enough to try, while drummer Abbey Apple pummeled the kit like it just insulted her mother. Listening to Oryx live is like walking through a lake of molasses while trying not to drown. The end of their set confirmed: We’d seen some of the best of the mile-high metal scene over the past hour.

Pairs well with: Stout O))), Trve Brewing

A smooth but sludgy dark brew that’s best enjoyed one savory sip at a time.


The first difference I noticed about the lineup at this point: Speed. The tempos of both ITCOS and Oryx were consistently down near the pace of the monstrous entity that persistently stalks the characters in It Follows. That would change the instant Black Anvil came on next.

Launching straight into their brand of blackened thrash, the New Yorkers were the first to get a pit going for the weekend. Their razor-sharp riffs drove a heavy gallop that punctuated their setlist for the evening, much of which featured cuts from their latest opus Regenesis. “29” and “8-bit Terror” brought enough vitriol to blacken the heart of anyone in earshot, earning enthusiastic hollers and many horns thrown.

Pairs well with: Barrel-aged No Light Ever Imperial Stout, Bone Up Brewing

A beer as dark as Black Anvil’s corpse paint, this one was made in honor of the album of the same name by Glacier, but I’m reasonably sure they wouldn’t mind if Black Anvil takes over as a surrogate pairing for this festival.


With Immolation coming up, the old guard of death metal would soon be presiding. That’s another noteworthy element of this finely tuned lineup: It highlights both the old and new school of the best of modern metal. Immolation’s newest album Acts of God, though, has both the fury of their ’90s heyday and still ranks with the best in the business after more than 30 years strong.

Watching Immolation live is basically giving these guys carte blanche to scramble your brain into a fine red mist. Packed with dizzying time changes and angular riffs that sound like they were snatched up from the bowels of the underworld, there’s a reason why Acts of God has already showed up in a litany of top-10 lists from this year, including Decibel’s. The band front-loaded their setlist with a healthy portion of songs from the album, but also treated us to a murderously good rendition of “Dawn of Possession,” the title track from album #1, all the way back to 1991.

Truth be told, it’s held up pretty well after three decades.

Pairs well with: Barbarian Haze IPA, 3 Floyds Brewing

A glorious blend of new age alchemy and old school hop flavor, this is 3 Floyds’ glorious take on a hazy IPA.


After Immolation was done shaking the building to its foundation, Swedish black metal mainstays Dark Funeral would offer no respite. Instantly whipping the beer-addled festivalgoers into a frenzy with “Unchain My Soul,” the first foreign band to hit the stage on Day 1 of this festival skipped the “fuck around” stage and went straight to “find out.”

As expected by anyone who’s familiar with Dark Funeral, our dark lord and savior Satan would make his presence felt during this set, with song choices such as “Nail Them to the Cross” and “Let the Devil In” clawing their way through the speakers. Vocalist Heljarmadr even led the crowd in a spirited call-and-response chant of “Hail Satan” for good measure. Really, what’s not to love here?

Pairs well with: Skaterade Red Lager, Soundgrowler Brewing

The red tint of this highly drinkable lager makes Soundgrowler’s Skaterade the only logical choice while watching Dark Funeral put the “fun” in “funeral.”


It was almost 10 pm at this point and we’d already seen five bands decimate the stage at Summit. Day 1 of this festival had gone off without a hitch. Somewhere behind me, Decibel editor-in-chief Albert Mudrian was probably emailing every venue in Denver about hosting this thing next year. There was already a collective feeling of “when, not if” when it came to that kind of thinking. The momentum we’d already experienced was enough to carry this festival well into this night and the next, and nobody here at this point would’ve expected this to be a one-hit wonder. The scale of this was already too grand to write off as just an experiment.

photo by Matt Darcy

And whenever Cannibal Corpse comes to play, it’s not a question of shit hitting the fan – it’s how much shit will hit how many fans, and how much of it gets thrown by people-turned-flesh-eating-zombies in the pit.

Right when the Florida legends ripped open the pit with the opening salvos of “Scourge of Iron,” we saw our first flying beer of the evening. Personally, I was surprised it took that long.

In typical form, George Fischer went full Corpsegrinder and continued to put on a master class in how to interact with a crowd. “THIS SONG’S FOR ALL THE LADIES OUT THERE,” he roared, getting a good shout back from several female voices throughout the audience. “Yeah, don’t get too into it, you might be running for the door after you hear the song title,” he said. “THIS ONE’S CALLED – FUCKED! WITH A KNIFE!”

The pure, concentrated fury that Cannibal Corpse unleashes during a live set has very few equals. The fact that they can also breeze through an 18-song set as effortlessly as taking out the garbage is equally awe-inspiring. Corpsegrinder and company tore through “Skull Full of Maggots,” “Evisceration Plague,” “The Wretched Spawn,” and “I Cum Blood” with deadly precision. Their set was the only appropriate way to put the final nail in the coffin for the first night of a festival that I sincerely hope becomes a yearly tradition here.

Pairs well with: Zombie Dust Pale Ale, 3 Floyds Brewing

The drink of choice for when the undead armies start looting your house and eating your corpse.


  1. Fvck this sounds awesome. Lucky dog.

    • It was indeed amazing – just as great as the one I went to in Philly a few years back. (Which I’m now just realizing I forgot to mention in the fucking article.) 😛

  2. Nice write up. Jealous, am I!

  3. One of the year’s highlights of posts! Great read.
    Gonzo’s liver and eardrums, indeed

    • Well that’s pretty much the best comment ever. Needed that today, so seriously – thank you.

      Also holy shit I love your username.

  4. Zombie Dust is fucking delicious. I really hope you got to see Thantifaxath on Day II. One of the best live acts in my opinion.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.