On November 23rd five of metal's heaviest hitters descended upon Seattle's well known venue, El Corazon. An assembly of performers from every corner of the globe, coming together to show everyone that here in Seattle the death metal scene is alive and well. While I can't say that blood rained from the Heavens and the dead rose to devour human flesh, I can certainly say each band melted their own fair share of faces.
I arrived at El Corazon just a few minutes after the door opened (7 pm). For those who've never visited the place, the outside looks like a black, nondescript building, except for the overhanging black and white sign signifying the name. To my surprise there was absolutely no line to get into the venue. I was greeted by courteous security, and after a quick frisking I entered the building.
Once inside I quickly realized why there was no line to get in. Standing before me was only about 15 people; A handful clusted at the front of the venue, huddled around center stage, and the rest standing disinteresting at the back near the merchandise, behind the floor partition. Sleeveless jean jackets, pinned on patches, and long wavy hair seemed to be the standard of dress. Feeling slightly out of place with my cropped hair, Nike cap, and Slipknot jacket, I made my way across the floor to the beer garden. After flashing my ID, I was quickly in and ordering a reasonably priced Jack & Coke, watching the first band setup on stage; and hey, the bar even took plastic!
The show started right on time at 7:30. Augury took the stage in front of what were perhaps 20 people at the time. I had been under the impression that Swashbuckle was to take the stage first, however I found out later that due to custom issues, the Canadian band was unable to make it. Due to reasons unknown, the drummer from The Amentia picked up the stick that evening to complete Augury’s lineup. Despite the minimal crowd and the fact that at times there were more heads banging on the stage than in the crowd, Augury did a great job kicking the night off.
Next up came the Australian band The Amenta. While Augury did well, it was The Amenta who truly started the show. Wearing evil glares and wolf grins, faces painted with a black, greasy substance, The Amenta’s stage presence commanded attention. At this point the crowd was continuously trickling in, and with horns in the air and heads banging in unison, they were definitely starting to get into it. By the end of the The Amenta's set, the first instance of moshing had begun, setting the tone for the rest of the night.
Between sets I was able to chat with some of the other patrons. All were in good spirits and were having a good time. One cited that they came early because of The Amenta; otherwise they wouldn't have shown up until Decrepit Birth. After grabbing a $3.00 beer (good, considering you'll pay $8.00 at the larger venues), I turned to the stage as Warbringer came on.
An old-school thrash band straight from great state of California, Warbringer sounded like a cross between an old (old!) Metallica and Slayer. Smoking riffs and machine gun style double base drums set the tone for some hardcore moshing to take place. Prior to Warbringer, the pit was rather timid; moshing was only seen once at the end of The Amenta's set. However with them on stage, explosive shoves from the mosh pit was growing more common.
My favorite aspect of Warbringer's performance was the guitarist's antics. Positioned at the left hand stage, he teased and goaded the audience, inviting them to participate. At one point he hopped off stage and took his solo to the crowd. Spinning in a slow circle, some of the more enthusiastic patrons bowed, fingers wiggling, beckoning the music from the guitar. However, like all good things, Warbringer's set eventually ended.
Next on the set list was Decrepit Birth. Being my first time seeing them live, I was somewhat surprised at the vocalist's appearance. A mane of dreads crowned an older man (late 40s?) who was small in stature but could growl with the force of an impending earthquake.
Looking around from the front of the pit, the crowd had grown substantially. Moshing was a constant occurrence, driven by the relentless windups delivered by the band. Heads were banging to the beat, hair flying in all directions. While an awesome sight, I'll admit that getting hit in the face with hair started to grow slightly annoying; but no harm no foul, right?
Decrepit Birth ended their set with the vocalist diving off the stage into the pit. Funny, because by doing so he made good on a threat he gave the crowd a bit earlier. For being such a small guy he can sure bust some heads!
By the end of Decrepit's show, the venue was packed! The beer garden was full, the main floor was packed, and even in the back elevated section people were looking over shoulders. A chant for Vader began building as the lights went out and figures drenched in a red light took the stage. At the sound of the first note, the crowd erupted in a way that only a death metal crowd can.
Vader's set list seemed endless. Jam after Jam came and went, but at no point did they lose their momentum. They played a good mix of older and newer songs, my personal favorite Necropolis. For a four piece bands, their stage performance was great, at least, from what I caught during the upswing of my banging head.
Perhaps my only disappointment for the evening was that Vader performed only one encore. Sure, it was almost midnight on a Monday, but after five hours of pummelling death metal, half the crowd was not even aware of where they were. None the less, the show was great and El Corazon did an awesome job facilitating such a spectacular line up.