Article by: Colton Davis
Photos by: David Rubene
While most of us celebrated Easter by going to church or having an Easter egg hunt, there was a devoted group of fans that went to see The Decibel Magazine Tour 2015 at Mill City Nights. Vallenfyre, Pallbearer, Converge, and At the Gates started the tour in Los Angeles and are making their way east. Many bands would have opted to have Easter Sunday off, but this crew of hardcore artists chose to play on- proving that the only thing more metal than having a heavy metal concert is having that concert on Easter Sunday.
The night started with Vallenfyre, a super group started as a side project for Paradise Lost’s Gregor Mackintosh. They awoke us from our Easter Sunday stupor with hard lag beats and tortured squeals of the guitar. It rang through the venue like a prayer. The same way that athletes pray before a game, everyone was pulled into the moment and given that last calm breath before the ensuing storm. Before you could even utter “grace” the group plunged into a classic metal sounding thrash that lasted the rest of the set. Rising guttural howls ripped through the speakers while swaying guitars pumped out chords. Mackintosh was slightly subdued, as he had suffered a knee injury earlier in the tour while in Seattle. It restricted some mobility, but whatever might have been lost in movement was certainly made up for in playful banter with the crowd. Mackintosh was cracking jokes and did a great job getting the crowd going early on.
Up next was Pallbearer and the Arkansas natives kicked off the set directly following sound check. Its lack of introductions and formalities were fitting because their set was a slurred time warp, each song oozed into the next with pleading vocals and drawn out guitar. Five-minute jams dripped into the crowd like syrup on Easter Brunch pancakes. Without any breaks between songs the crowd was entranced by the crawling rhythms. They seemed like they could only muster the will to bob their heads in unison. Nothing seemed to stop the steady power that Pallbearer was emitting. Bassist Joseph D. Rowland was front and center often with his chest pulled to the sky as if he were some morbid puppet with the strings tied to his ribcage.
With the stage bathed in red, Converge came out swinging. Thrashing and raging lead singer Jacob Bannon left no corner of the stage unexplored. A relentless drum kit accompanied a furious guitar and powered the night in a new direction. Pallbearer may have put the crowd into some form of trance, but Converge seemed to grab them by the throat and shake them into instant mosh pits. The crowd was alive and so was Bannon. His maniacal expressions commanded the audience to get moving and everyone responded well. While they radiated visceral energy they had a strong set that showed off their variety and experience.
The night’s headliners, At The Gate, must have felt that they had something to prove. The Swedish group took the stage quickly, demonstrating muscle and finesse. A monstrous drum kit was set in the back of the stage, but it was certainly showcased. Its punishing fills and rolling rhythms were perfectly accented with skilled guitar work from Anders Björler. The rest of the band was at the front of the stage in an almost challenging way. Lead singer Tomas Lindberg wove in and out of his band mates as he interacted with the crowd. The group played a variety of songs from their catalogue, including older ones like “Raped By the Light of Jesus” from their 1993 album “With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness”. There was an effortlessness that many other bands struggle with. Their veteran status on the metal scene was easily seen within the crowd as well. The fans were obviously overjoyed, and At the Gates saw it as well; no matter how dark they got, the band members kept holding back grins during their set.
This tour works because of the eclectic mix of metal. There was something for everyone and each band was not afraid to be themselves. While no band played poorly, each band built on the previous set and created a unique energy and pulsating excitement for our headliners. The Decibel Magazine Tour’s next stop is The House of Blues in Chicago on April 6th. For more information about the tour check out their website.
Want to keep up with the bands? Follow the links to their websites.
At the Gates- atthegates.se