Irving Plaza was packed to the gills, but evidently not sold out. As I walked upstairs to the venue, Animals as Leaders were starting their sound-check. They were my first objective. Along the way I stopped at Decrepit Birth's merch table, and found Bill Robinson manning it himself; naturally, he's really nice guy. I took the opportunity to pick up a copy of the band's excellent new album, Polarity. I really love buying an album directly from the band.
Animals as Leaders put on a fantastic set of instrumental, spaced out, progified tech-metal madness. The sound was gorgeous, and the packed crowd was surprisingly receptive to the band. Tosin Abasi rocked an 8-string guitar and perfectly conjured up the atmosphere of the band's superlative eponymous debut. Animals as Leaders have something great going on, and the organic flow of their tunes brings to mind the insane perfection of a band like Gordian Knot. I couldn't see if there was any pit action from my vantage point, but the crowd really seemed to appreciate the band's unbrutal inclusion in the bill. Folks around me were bobbing their smiling heads and more than a few were weediling the air-guitars.
The set was unfortunately short, but certainly satisfying. Summer Slaughter is clearly a well oiled machine for time slots, with gear for each subsequent band lined up like a conveyor belt on one side of the venue. I ran into Axl and Vince from MetalSucks between sets, and honestly, can you think of anyone more fun to hang out with during a Carnifex set?
I don't really have anything (positive) to say about Carnifex other than that much of the young crowd enjoyed their performance. I did not. I bid adieu to Axl and Vince to hit the floor again for Decrepit Birth. The band threw down an awesome mix of new and old tracks while Bill Robinson whipped the crowd into a frenzy with his gnarly dreads. The man's paradoxical but intelligent philosophy came through loud and clear in his stage banter, exhorting a peaceful brutality from the crowd.
I wasn't super pleased with the sound for Decrepit Birth's set, but Matt Sotelo's celestial solos rang out loud and clear. Only a tiny bit of the melodic power of the new Polarity material was lost to the mix. Bill Robinson tempted madness by offering free copies of the new album to the first three crowd-surfers who could defeat security and make it up on the stage. The result was a tsunami of bodies on top of the crowd. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the wave did not wash up onto the stage; security won out. As a consolation prize, Bill Robinson tossed a copy of Polarity out into the crowd. It was a nice gesture.
I definitely want to see Decrepit Birth again, and I'll get a chance soon enough. The band announced they'd be hitting the road with Suffocation in the fall. You won't want to miss that one. It would have been nice to see the resuscitated incarnation of Decapitated, but I had to hit the road. My metal interlude was a win. I departed Irving Plaza and started the short walk to Webster Hall.
To be continued...