Published Apr 10, 2014Musical comebacks and reunions are taking place at an ever-increasing rate, and many fail, never managing to recapture the precise sonic alchemy of their origins. In 2013, however, two metal bands made returns after long periods of dormancy that were nothing short of triumphant: grindcore and melodic death metal pioneers Carcass from England, and Sherbrooke, QC's technical death metal monsters Gorguts. Their new records, each band's first release in 17 and 12 years respectively, took the top two places in Exclaim's Top 10 Metal & Hardcore Albums of 2013. And now, both of those bands are also a part of the 2014 Decibel Magazine Tour, currently cutting a swath of destruction through North America.
On the Montreal stop of the tour, Baltimore's thrash-death prodigies Noisem (neé Necropsy) did a solid job warming up the crowd. The members range in age from 16 to 19, and the technical skill that they're capable of at this stage in their careers is dizzying. When their songwriting chops catch up with their abilities, they're going to be a force to be reckoned with.
For Gorguts, this performance felt like coming home, the warmth between the band and the crowd something palpable. Their set was drawn heavily from their most recent release, the monumental Coloured Sands, though they closed with "Obscura," still one of the most stunning tracks they have ever composed. Their set was at once ferocious and beautiful, overwhelming and precise, displaying preternatural mastery of their respective instruments while also managing to capture a profound emotional authenticity in their performance. Gorguts being active again, pushing the envelope of what is possible within death metal, is a gift to the genre.
The Black Dahlia Murder seem very much like the odd band out on this tour. Their sound is located somewhere between melodic death metal and metalcore, replete with anthemic compositions, fist-pounding bridges and satisfying breakdowns. Their set seemed almost like an interlude, a palate cleanser after the complexity before and the intensity that was to come, but their sound came off the worse for it, almost comically simple. The band put on a solid, high-energy set, and the crowd responded favourably, but they could not reach the same level of transcendence as their tour mates.
From the moment that Carcass began "1985," the dramatic intro track from 2013's Surgical Steel, the entire crowd was completely captivated. Their performance was incredibly tight, with the easy, effortless grace of consummate performers. The chemistry between founding members Jeff Walker and Bill Steer is as solid as one would expect from a band that originated in 1985, and newcomers Daniel Wilding on drums and Ben Ash on guitar fit in seamlessly, bringing spectacular talents of their own to bear on Carcass' exceptional compositions.
The first half of their set deeply explored their 2013 release, with masterful renditions of "Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System" and "Unfit for Human Consumption," while later they began to delve deeper into their venerable back catalogue, with aching renditions of pieces from Heartwork and Reek of Putrefaction for tracks like "Genital Grinder." While they may gleefully explore the abject in their aesthetic, watching Carcass once again fully inhabiting a stage and playing the absolute hell out of their exceptional music is pure joy.