NOTE: This is part three of a three-part review of the Goregrowler’s Ball V. Parts one and two can be found here and here.
The one-man madness of Putrid Pile performed on the inside stage next, and generated one of the wilder pits of the night. Sole member Shaun LaCanne, armed with a guitar and a drum machine, tore up the inside of the Korova in a similar manner to Insidious Decrepancy, which is entirely a compliment. His ridiculously extreme vocals contained a jaw-dropping manner about them while he bashed out low-end riffs that stirred up the crowd to the point where every song was met with an enthusiastic response. His drum machine was mixed well in the sound department, and while using a drum machine is always a risk with a PA, it was executed flawlessly, and the sound managed to be full despite the presence of a single human on stage. LaCanne played a mixture of old and new material that put the “brutal” in “brutal death metal”, while his energy should also be commended, shouting tales of perversion into the mic while nimbly wielding his guitar to produce riffs and slams. It was great to finally witness Putrid Pile in a live environment, and I’m sure that the numerous fans that were watching and pitting it up would agree.
The brutal death metal assault continued with New York’s Internal Bleeding, who pioneered the subgenre along with the masters in Suffocation, who would perform the next night. As the band is widely credited with being one of the first bands to play the “slam” style of death metal, it was not unrealistic at all to see fans tearing it up during their set as each rhythmic chunk drove them into utter madness. The riffing and slamming were unrelenting in crushing fury, and the word “sickness” was a most apropriate adjective to describe the band’s set. The vocals of Keith DeVito were low to accompany the guitar playing provided by Chris Pervelis and Brian Hobbie, which was most brutal indeed. The rhythm section of bassist Jay Liff and drummer Bill Tolley drove many aspects of the Internal Bleeding sound, as the rhythmic slams are an important bass for many of their songs. Fortunately, they played tight in a manner of precision. While many bands on Sunday would play a similar style of death metal to Internal Bleeding, it was captivating to watch the style done by the masters themselves, as well as Suffocation’s performance that would close out the entire festival.
After Internal Bleeding performed, there was a slight turnover, and finally, the moment that this reporter had been waiting for since the age of fifteen had finally arrived, the arrival of the mighty Hirax to the stage. The veteran thrashers have never let their fans down, and their first appearance in San Antonio was nothing short of a momentous occasion. Vocalist Katon W. De Pena is a master of the stage, running around and passing off the mic to whoever wanted to sing along to songs like “Broken Neck” and “Assassins of War” while guitar players Lance Harrison and Mike Guerrero provided a mishmash of killer solos and riffs that brought the venue straight inot the eighties (in a good way, mind you). One highlight of the set was “Destroy”, which was extended from the studio version to great effect. Bassist Steve Harrison plucked out speedy riffs while drummer Jorge Iacobellis kept the beat to an energetic level. Stage dives commenced, which only enhanced the fun atmosphere of the performance, and there were circle pits aplenty. One particularly awesome moment came when Katon dedicated “Hate, Fear, and Power” to the late Jesse Pintado, formerly of Napalm Death. The song was introduced by a pair of guitar solos from Harrison and Guerrero which showcased technical flair, and led into the thirty-second song (yes, you read that right). Another great moment came when Katon unrolled a massive Texas flag around midway through the band’s set, which was quite a sight to behold! While the band did have to cut some songs from their set, the songs that were played were a fan’s dream come true, featuring songs from “Raging Violence”, “The New Age of Terror”, and just about any other Hirax release you could think of. In many ways, it could be compared to Ghoul’s performance at Rites of Darkness II last year, in terms of a thrash band offering a fun break from the more extreme genres of metal that dominated the fest (again, this is not a slag on those bands either). Afterwards, the band went around talking and partying with fans, which is always commendable and shows how down-to-Earth Hirax is. Hopefully Hirax will be back in 2012, and if their performance on Saturday is any indicator, it’s going to be quite the show!
Things were running a little late at this point, resulting in a thirty-minute Brutal Truth set. Thankfully, while the band didn’t get to perform for very long, they more than made up for it in terms of intensity, cranking out wretched grindcore jams that were noisy and vicious in execution (all of this is meant to be complimentary, for the record). Vocalist Kevin Sharp moved around in a manner similar to D.R.I.’s Kurt Brecht if Kurt Brecht was possessed, while veteran bassist Dan Lilker blasted out low-end riffs with his signature distorted tone. Lyrically, Brutal Truth tends to gravitate towards political or social issues as opposed to the gory subject matter of many other death/grind bands, and while politics can be an incredibly risky thing to put in metal, Brutal Truth do it well, and Kevin Sharp’s delivery of these themes is presented skillfully. Guitarist Erik Burke’s fingers flew as he picked at incredibly fast speeds without a break, and delivered perfectly when it came time for a crushingly slow riff to come in to snap a few necks. Drummer Rich Hoak is one of the best in the business, backing up the three other members of the band with an intensity that should be admired. Blindingly-fast parts were juxtaposed by colliding slow jams that were executed efficiently, and this contrast between fast and slow only enhanced the vibe that Brutal Truth was going for. Brutal Truth put on a superb display of sickening, socially aware grind that showed the young’uns a thing or two about how good grind is supposed to be done. It was a violent performance that left this reporter very impressed, and grateful for the fact that the band is back together after splitting up.
And thus ends day two of the fest. After some good food with good friends, it was time for rest in order to prepare for the final day of the Goregrowler’s Ball V.
For more info: A review of the last day of the fest will be posted tomorrow.