About a month ago (4/20/2012), The Decibel Magazine Tour stormed through Seattle's El Corazon. The tour package featured Polish black metal powerhouse Behemoth's triumphant return to a North American headlining position, and saw support from a fine crop of equally talented opening acts. The support bands were of a top notch caliber, and varied perfectly in scope and style from pentagram touting, torch burning Watain, to the 70's sounding Devils Blood. The tour's openers really knew what they were doing.
The night kicked off with an unmemorable, local opener and less than impressive crowd, who seemed more interested in frequenting the packed bar than they did to see a local opener slog through sloppy dissonant metal. The Devil's Blood hit the stage to a more filled out crowd to much excitement and enthusiasm from the crowd. The band, which features a female lead vocalist, all sauntered onstage covered in fake blood and playing a slew of guitar riffs that seemed to be more at home within a bad 1978 acid trip than a heavy metal show. I must say however, that the band ended up winning me over with the vocalist's impressive range to a fifteen minute jam session in the middle of the set. This was a band that truly knew how to get a crowd warmed up and ready for a night of metal. If you have a couple of bucks I highly suggest picking up the band’s latest release "The Thousandfold Epicenter".
Following The Devils Blood, Insolitude took the stage. To me this band felt too tired and played out, and sort of an off fit for the tour. The band again had the whole mid to late 70's swagger going on, but in no way did they fit this tour. The lyrics they were singing and the imagery of the band itself all felt overworked, and like they just didn't know quite what they were all about. I really feel like they were added to fill space on this lineup, and not due to the fact that they really had a draw for the tour.
Watain took the stage at around 9 at night. I must preface the performance review by divulging that I had found out earlier in the day that the band would not be able to use the real dead animal heads that they normally take on the road with them because EL Corazon had deemed it as too much of a health risk to have a rotting animal carcass onstage. I was sort of thinking that this band was going to be a shock and awe campaign of laughable imagery and stage props. However, the band took the stage to thunderous applause looking like they had just crawled up from the deepest pit of hell and planned to bring everyone inside the venue back down with them. This band had burning candles and oil lamps onstage and they ripped through a setlist mostly heavy on songs from their 2010 release "Lawless Darkness". When the band launched into "Reaping Death" the crowd broke out into a decent sized mosh pit and seemed amped as all hell for Behemoth to finally hit the stage. Being that open flames are not allowed in such a small venue, it was a bit laughable when midway through the set a roadie came out and snuffed out the oil lamps, which prompted the band to stop the set, grab a lighter from the crowd, relight them and play on. The band sounded great, but would have been a bit more well received if they would have toned down the theatrics and focused more on the music itself.
Finally around 10:30, the mighty Behemoth took the stage to a now packed house, to chants of "BAH HE MOTH". I confess I was a bit nervous to see how this band would carry a live performance. Lead singer Adam "Nergal" Darski was diagnosed with severely advanced leukemia and was not expected to survive after a successful bone marrow transplant. The singer has since gone on to regain his strength, and resume a full touring schedule. I wasn't sure going into this show what level he would be playing to so shortly after enduring such a massive illness.
The band came onstage and immediately launched into their biggest single, "Ov Fire And The Void," from their most current studio album "Evangelion". The crowd went absolutely apeshit and the band themselves exploded with a passion I rarely see within the genre of metal. This was a band that not only is back, but is back with a vengeance and stronger than they have ever been before. To my astonishment each song somehow got better through the hour and a half set. While working through the setlist, the band was sure to include its most popular songs such as "Demigod", and my personal favorite "Slaves Shall Serve". Midway through the set Nergal thanked the crowd for coming out and loudly proclaimed "Tonight is a night we celebrate freedom". Not once within the band's set did the intensity ever slow down. The band was perfect, lock and pin tight, and had some of the best sound quality I've ever heard within a small venue setting. The encore was a visual feast. As if the black and white corpse paint wasn't enough, all the members quickly covered themselves in fake blood, and Nergal donned a steampunk inspired crown of thowns.
The band announced it had one final song. They dropped the lights, and upon bringing them back up slowly lurched into "Lucifer" with Nergal now wearing the trademark mask he has worn in numerous videos and onstage performances. The nine minute song was a more than welcome way to end one of the most flawless metal sets I have ever seen. Behemoth is back, and more focused than ever. Anyone that has ever thought that they are not one of the top contenders in the metal genre is sadly and hopelessly mistaken.