Published Jun 01, 2003Underground powerhouse Relapse Records' annual Contamination tour featured some of their most promising up-and-comers. Openers Dysrhythmia had the tough task of setting the pace, which they took an admirably shot at. Dysrhythmia impressed with their vocal-less jazz/prog/metal hybrid, sounding akin to all the progressive interludes from early technical death metal. But vocal-less metal is a tough sell, and despite the three-piece throwing themselves into their performance, Dysrhythmia will be known as that weird art metal band with no vocals until they grab a singer. Uphill Battle followed and live, all the death/grind nods to Carcass and their early '90s ilk are far more pervasive than the technical Dillinger-isms of their debut. They were sloppy at times, but their triple-vocal attack and lack of central image were refreshing. Loaded with potential, give Uphill Battle another record or two and they'll be awesome. The End doesn't need another record to be great, taking the stage and playing some new songs that showed they haven't been just basking in the glory of signing to Relapse. While the End's newer material is darker, less frantic and more building, they seemed unusually subdued, perhaps because the cramped stage offered little room for the five-piece to get their riot on. Mastodon followed and was unquestionably the crowd favourite. One of Relapse's best, Mastodon is dark like Neurosis, frenzied like Today is the Today (featuring former members), Southern like Skynyrd and utterly crushing. Moshing and attempted crowd-surfing followed as Mastodon unleashed tracks mainly from Remission, and closed with a Thin Lizzy cover. The crowd thinned like a balding metaller's hairline as Cephalic Carnage hit the stage, but they were here to grind regardless. A little sloppy, but having the best stage presence of any "grind" band, Cephalic were a blur of insane runs, furiously complex grind and off-time pseudo-jazz progressions. However, the highlight of the night came when two metal guys started to go at it in the pit. After asking them to "chill," Cephalic broke into "Eye of the Tiger," to the amusement of the crowd, and the embarrassment of the yeah-men, stopping the fight before it could begin.