After a killer first day of the Goregrowler’s Ball, it was time to return to the Korova for another helping of killer extreme metal. Day two was an excellent occasion that featured some of the best bands of the entire festival, and while every act was not witnessed (as is the case with most festivals), the ones that were witnessed were most entertaining indeed.
This reporter arrived bright and early after running some errands to arrive in the middle of a performance by Vex, one of the most interesting acts in the Austin scene at the moment. The band plays a progressive style of extreme metal that draws from black and death metal to present a captivating blend of styles that manages to remain coherent in its diversity, which is much more than I can say for many “genre-bending” newer acts. The song “Wasteland” is a particular highlight, with an epic tremolo-picked riff that is nothing short of mesmerizing. Certain songs contained a psychedelic vibe to them, presenting an air that no other band at the festival gave off. New vocalist Joe Jackson (also of Sakrefix) maintained his usual stage presence while guitar players Ciaran McCloskey and Michael Day unleashed interwoven guitar parts that made the Vex set one of the more enjoyable ones of the day, and they were only the first band! Thankfully, the rest of the day kept the positive energy going, making the second day of the Goregrowler’s Ball a fun one indeed!
Unfortunately, some set times wound up overlapping, so I went inside to watch Funeral Rites. The Texas death metal band did an excellent job of keeping the heavy vibe of the Goregrowler’s Ball running with plenty of intricate guitar riffs and bass parts. The band also performed at the Building Temples from Death fest in Houston, and their set was enjoyable both times (although the Temples of Death fest was not officially reviewed by this Examiner). The band features Luis Carlos on guitar, whom Houston metal fans will recognize as the brains behind the Adversary Productions, a killer booking company in its own right (rite?) while bassist Tony Rich (also of Bound in Flesh) tore things up on his fretless bass, which was fascinating to watch as a fellow bass player. Songs like “Seal of Lucifer” served as a microcosm of the overall sound of Funeral Rites, and the band served as a fine addition to the festival.
Grotesque Formation is always a solid band to watch, and the Corpus Christi TXDM-ers were in excellent form (no pun intended) on Saturday, ripping through a set of bone-snapping tunes on the outside stage that took no prisoners in the terms of bludgeoning the crowd. Grotesque Formation show their allegiance to TXDM well with songs that consist of blazing fast and deadly riffing along with pit-moving slams, and while it was still early in the day, there was already a decent crowd present that supported the band throughout their set. There was some very interesting bass playing going on to interlock with the action of the guitar and drums, while vocalist George Elizondo provided a savage gurgle that accompanied the music nicely. Any fans of Texas death metal would be advised to look into Grotesque Formation, and having seen them multiple times, this reporter can testify that they never let the fans down.
Due to not having eaten at any point in the day, we went to go get some food from a local shop and missed the next few bands. We got back in time to watch Chicago’s Cardiac Arrest.
Cardiac Arrest put on quite a show, with riffs in the classic death metal style of Autopsy and Divine Eve, with a few flashy guitar tricks that highlighted the set in a fascinating manner. This reporter first witnessed the band on the Campaign for Death Metal Purity tour in 2010, and they have maintained a level of consistent quality that made their performance an enjoyable spectacle both times they were seen. A friend of this reporter compared the band with Cianide, which seems to be accurate, and whether Cardiac Arrest was playing at a speedy tempo or a doomy dirge, the riffing was strong throughout their set. Vocally, Cardiac Arrest utilized a low but discernible growl that got the point across, and frontman Adam Scott did a good job of keeping the crowd entertained. Moreso than any other day of the festival, Day Two of the Ball seemed to represent a unity between the brutal style of death metal and the more classic style – with Internal Bleeding and Dehumanized sharing the stage with Funerus and Cardiac Arrest – with fans showing support for both styles of death metal, which as a spectator, was something to behold. Hopefully Cardiac Arrest will be back soon to tear up San Antonio, and if they do, all fans of the old-school are advised to witness the band.
Unfortunately, there were some delays that affected Hod’s set, although our local heroes of extreme metal persevered through it all and put on an excellent set that even included a new song – “And the Smoke Will Rise” – that will be included on the “Limb Splitter” compilation that will be released by Houston record label Ossuary Industries. The band’s new guitar player, Erika Tandy, handled the early material quite well and put her own touch on songs like “Demoralizer”, which is a perfect encapsulation of superb, old-school metal. Second guitarist Carl “Lord Necron” Snyder ran through a sea of riffs, highlighting his compositional talent while bassist Trans Am (also of Austin act Ancient VVisdom) energetically performed bass duties, speedily picking out low notes. Vocalist Vladibeer Reebs led the band through a short set of mostly new material, and while the circumstances were less than ideal, it was still a fine performance that got heads banging and pits forming. Hod plays around here all the time, so if you live in the area and haven’t seen them yet, attending their next show is highly advisable.
For more info: Part two of this story is posted here.