LIVE REVIEW: Reader DC Isenberg Hits Up Metal Alliance 2012 — March 18th, Charlotte, NC

Heavy Blog reader DC Isenberg hit up this year’s Metal Alliance Tour this past weekend, and asked if we’d like to see a recap of the show. Naturally, I was interested, as I couldn’t attend the show for myself. Check out his account of the Charlotte stop of the trek.

When I saw the lineup for this year’s “Metal Alliance Tour” including headliners Devildriver and supporting acts The Faceless, Dying Fetus, Job For A Cowboy, 3 Inches of Blood, Impending Doom, and Wretched, I crossed my fingers hoping the tour would make a stop somewhere in the Carolinas. Sure enough, this monster of a metal tour made a stop in my town of Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday March 18th, 2012 at Amos’ Southend, a local favorite venue of mine.  With seven bands on the bill, this package seemed like a mini-Summer Slaughter Tour that was sure to win.

The first band of the night was Charlotte, NC’s own, Wretched.  This group of talented young musicians has their own unique approach to the death metal sound that really shines in a live atmosphere.  It had been a few years since I saw Wretched live so I  had forgotten what to expect from them in a live setting, especially with current vocalist Adam Cody.  They played a strong opening set for such a heavy hitting lineup, putting a good amount of energy into the  hometown crowd so early in the night.  There aren’t many things in a live concert that top witnessing the energy and devotion of fans for their hometown bands.  In fact, I was able to witness a particularly special display of a fan’s love for Wretched, as a young girl got on stage and brutally growled a majority of the last song of the set.  Who said chicks can’t do death metal vocals?

Christian deathcore band Impending Doom were up next.  I’ve seen quite a few Impending Doom shows over the past couple of years so I knew what to expect from them.  One thing I was interested in hearing was a song or two off their latest album, Baptized in Filth.  This album has a very strong sound and just begs to be heard in concert.  That sound was heard quite well as the band shook the venue with the lead single, ‘Murderer.‘  Breakdowns continued as they went on to play a  mix of songs from all their past three albums.  Although Impending Doom is not particularly listed under bands I like to see live, their sound is becoming slightly more crushing and enjoyable in a live setting.

Candian metal masters 3 Inches of Blood took to the stage playing their signature style of metal reminiscent of dragon slaying and online role-playing-games.  3 Inches of Blood were one of many in the group of what I like to refer to as “Bridge Bands” that were certainly heavier than the Nu-Metal that got me into heavy music, but less interesting compared to the likes of experimental and progressive artists I listen to today.  Nonetheless, they have managed to keep to their own sound live over a number of years, with Cam Pipes’ distinct high shrieks always putting a smile on my face.  3 Inches of Blood managed to keep the crowd alive and going right into the night’s next act, Job For A Cowboy.

Every time I’ve seen Job For A Cowboy live, they always bring it hard.  These Arizona desert death metallers can rile up any kind of metal crowd, whether it be touring with the likes of prog masters Between The Buried and Me, or death metal giants Cannibal Corpse, they know how to get a crowd moving.  Their set opened with crowd favorite ‘Entombment of a Machine’ as fans let out the signature horror-like screech.  Newest member Tony Sannicandro really shined with face melting  guitar solos played with spot on precision.  For the most part their set consisted of material from Ruination and a new song ‘Black Discharge’ from their upcoming album Demonocracy, out April 10th on Metal Blade.  Job For A Cowboy had one of the tightest sounding sets of the night.

The night was beginning to reach the main reason I was excited for this show, The Faceless.  But first was old schoolers Dying Fetus.  I will say this now, I am not a big Dying Fetus fan.  I respect the fact that they have been a band for almost as long as I’ve been alive and had a major influence in the growth and evolution of death metal, but their sound is not my cup of tea.  I saw them a few years back on Summer Slaughter but they didn’t really do anything for me.  This time however, their sound was much more thunderous.  The crowd was really into them as they kept the energy level high throughout the entire set.  The entire time they were playing I couldn’t help but get excited the next act, and before I knew it, Dying Fetus was on their last song and The Faceless began to set up.

This was the main attraction that brought me to The Metal Alliance Tour, as I’m sure many others.  I have had the privilege of seeing The Faceless live on many occasions, and their sound gets better every time — but what I was really interested in witnessing this time around was the inclusion of their three newest members, Evan Brewer on bass, lead vocalist Geoffrey Ficco, and just-picked-up guitarist Wes Hauch.  Surely a lineup change like that would bring new life to a band’s performance, and it certainly did.  The most notable of the differences was new vocalist Geoff.  This man not only brought that demon-vocal sound of The Faceless, but also brought along an incredibly strong stage presence.  His presence is definitely fitting for a band of their style.  Not much can be said about new axe slayer Wes Hauch except that he seemed to have a strong grasp of both new and old material. The highlight of the set was certainly through the performance of a brand new song.  This song had a much more progressive feel to it than previous material, with Michael Keene opening with clean vocals sung against almost pure silence.  I am even more excited from this song for the long awaited release of their new album.  Although witnessing the energy level of their new vocalist and a new song, I was a bit upset over their performance.  They were dealing with technical difficulties all throughout their set with Macbook problems cutting their set severely short.  For all the problems they dealt with, and a fresh lineup only a few days into tour, they managed to close the shortened set strongly with crowd pleaser, ‘Xenochrist’.  The Metal Alliance Tour was coming to an end as headliners DevilDriver stormed the stage with fury.

DevilDriver are a band much akin to Lamb of God in terms of live presence.  Their music just sounds more explosive and heavier live than on record, which is what any good metal should sound like. They have one of those American metal DGAF attitudes on stage and frontman Dez Fafara sure knows how to preach it.  The Southern California metal veterans pummeled the crowd with songs covering all five albums for nearly an hour.  It was great to see a band with as much moving power as DevilDriver keeping the crowd relentless after going through the mayhem of the six bands before them.  One of the main reasons I love seeing these guys is because of that brutal energy they bring to a live atmosphere, encouraging crowd participation with circle pits and crowd surfing all over the place.  DevilDriver were a great band to close this monster of a metal tour and never disappoint live.

The Metal Alliance Tour was a great showcase of different types of metal bands all sharing the stage for their passion of playing music.  I was not terribly disappointed in any of the nights acts, although more pf The Faceless would have been nice.  If this tour makes it’s way to your city, I highly suggest you attend a show near you; this is not a tour to be missed.

The remaining dates for Metal Alliance 2012 are below. Make sure you don’t miss it!

03/20 Baltimore, MD – Sonar
03/21 New York, NY – Gramercy Theater
03/22 Danvers, MA – Palace Ballroom
03/23 Montreal, QC – Club Soda
03/24 Toronto, ON – Opera House
03/25 Columbus, OH – Alrosa Villa
03/26 Joliet, IL – Mojoe’s
03/27 St Paul, MN – Station-4
03/28 Winnipeg, MB – Garrick Centre
03/29 Regina, SK – Riddell Centre
03/30 Edmonton, AB – Edmonton Events Centre
03/31 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theater
04/01 Seattle, WA – Studio Seven
04/03 Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theater
04/05 Oakland, CA – The Pound
04/06 Pomona, CA – Fox Theater
04/07 Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theater
04/09 Denver, CO – The Summit Music Hall
04/10 Omaha, NE – Sokol Auditorium
04/11 Des Moines, IA – 7 Flags Event Center
04/13 Memphis, TN – New Daisy Theater
04/15 Lawrence, KS – Granada Theater
04/16 Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom
04/19 Dallas, TX – House Of Blues
04/20 Austin, TX – Emo’s East
04/21 Houston, TX – House Of Blues

– DC

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