Carnival of Death Tour – Suffocation, Kataklysm
New York, New York
October 3, 2014
Review and Photos by InfamousButcher
When I heard Suffocation was headlining the 2014 Carnival of Death tour, I started a circle pit in my own fucking living room! A fan since ’92, I’ve seen Long Island’s heaviest 8 times over the last 22 years, but never as a headliner for a good sized venue. With no new album to promote (the brutal and brilliant PINNACLE OF BEDLAM came out in Feb 2013), Suffocation (Suffo for short) had been asking fans what they wanted to hear, so visions of getting rare fan favorites like “Human Waste” and “Jesus Wept” with vicious pits filled my head! In addition, the Carnival of Death lineup was heavy on NY classic death metal with Pyrexia and Internal Bleeding on the bill, very cool! Let’s go infect some crypts people!
The venue tonight is the Gramercy Theater in New York City, a great place for a metal show. 2 years ago Obituary and Broken Hope did the Carnival of Death tour here (link to my review) and I’ve seen Anvil here too. The Gramercy holds about 1,500 people and has a large floor / pit area, stadium style seats in the back, and a downstairs section for merch and hanging out. Sound quality is good; a/c is ok, only issue is you can’t get anything to eat. Tonight’s show is close to sold out. Now the bad – the show got moved up tonight so it would finish by 10:00PM so the Gramercy could put on a fucking rave! Who the fuck ever heard of a metal show ending at 10PM on a Friday night? This total screwed me and a lot of other fans, I missed Internal Bleeding, Pyrexia, and most of Jungle Rot’s set because of the time change. I have one picture of Jungle Rot, it is below. Sadly, it seems the Gramercy is moving away from metal shows. This same month Deicide and Prong were originally scheduled for the Gramercy but got moved to crappy little Santos Party House (link to my review) so there is a trend here. It’s a damn shame because I like the venue.
So my night was off to bad start. The first band I got to really see was Canada’s Kataklysm, a tech / melodic death band that has been around since the early 90’s. I had a copy of their debut EP THE MYSTICAL GATE OF REINCARNATION and I thought it was brutal but kind of disorganized and all over the place. I never got into them after that. The lineup today is quite a bit different with the only original members being Maurizio Iacono (bass since 1991 / vocals since 1998) and Jean Francois Dagenais (guitars) and the sound is much more refined and melodic. Kataklysm took the stage around 8 and proceeded to blast us with “Like Angels Weeping (The Dark)” from IN THE ARMS OF DEVASTATION. Crowd response was intense, but the band’s style just isn’t up my alley. I’m a straight ahead old school brutal guy. Their set was very varied covering a good chunk of their considerable catalog. Musicianship was impressive and the band was tight and together. I just like my metal a little deathier.
Kataklysm set list
- Like Angels Weeping (The Dark)
- If I Was God… I’d Burn It All
- Like Animals
- The Ambassador of Pain
- Blood on the Swans
- The Awakener
- In Shadows & Dust
- Crippled & Broken
At 9:00, Frank, Terrance, Guy, Derek, and Dave took the stage and seemed a little perplexed at the early start time. Frank said he couldn’t believe fucking Suffocation was playing at 9:00 and had to be finished by 10:00! It just didn’t seem right. Then, Frank and co started things off with “Effigy of the Forgotten” which is akin to a pickaxe to the head! FUCK YEAH! Brutal, savage, and sick, slams a-plenty! Crowd went apeshit moshing and headbanging as Frank “chopped” away! We were off to a terrific start and then came the oldest Suffo song in existence “Catatonia” (THIS TORTURE INHIBITS MY LIFE!) and I was pissed I was still in the photo pit taking pictures! Save some of this classic brutal shit for when I get into the pit!
Suffo was not as on as I would have hoped, given this was the first show of the tour and it was in NYC, their home. Frank’s voice was on at times, off at others. A few times he was drowned out or just not loud enough. At 44 he is still able to deliver the ultra-guttural in spurts, but doesn’t seem able to maintain it through a full song anymore. Most of the set he sounded more like he does on PINNACLE OF BEDLAM or BLOOD OATH than EFFIGY OF THE FORGOTTEN or HUMAN WASTE. Sadly, Frank is phasing out of Suffocation. He has a day job now and does some shows with the band but never full tours anymore. Terrance and Guy still delivered killer riffs and solos, but the band just wasn’t as lethal and together as other times I’ve seen them. Dave Culross is a decent drummer but he still ain’t Mike Smith. Derek is a great bassist and his style of playing upright is really cool.
The set was different from the last few Suffo shows I’ve seen, but I was let down there weren’t more fan favorites, especially since fan suggestions were asked for. We got “Entrails of You” from the self-titled album and “Dismal Dream” from BLOOD OATH, but no “Jesus Wept”, “Human Waste”, or “Prelude to Repulsion”. Classic track “Liege of Inveracity” was sung by Ricky Myers from Disgorge who will be filling in for Frank on most of the tour. He did a killer job and was much louder than Frank, but it just isn’t the same. No offense to Ricky, but I don’t want to hear one of the best Suffo songs of all time sung by somebody other than Frank. Set staples “Funeral Inception” (GOD FORBID – GOD FORBIDDEN!) and “Pierced from Within” were solid and I enjoyed “Breeding the Spawn”, which was dedicated to the ladies! We got a triple shot of PINNACLE tunes, the best of which was “As Grace Descends” with its dissonant riffing. Suffo concluded their set with their usual crusher “Infecting the Crypts” (THRASHING THE TOMB TO REVEAL WHAT’S INSIDE!) and we all finished the night at 10 with a chaotic mosh pit!
Overall the show was disapointing. I missed a good amount of the show due to the early start time that was not communicated and Suffo just wasn’t the same. You have to understand, this is one of my favorite bands of all time and it really hurts me to say this but the band is changing and soon founding member Frank Mullen will no longer be in the band. It’s the end of an era that started in 1988. His vocal style, power, and humorous stage presence are irreplaceable. Even worse, Frank is slipping and just isn’t in the same league as vocalists like John Tardy and Martin Van Drunen anymore. Tonight was my 9th Suffocation show and I will see them in May 2015 for Maryland Deathfest XIII. Beyond that, I’m not sure what the future holds for this legendary band.
Suffocation set list:
- Effigy of the Forgotten
- As Grace Descends
- Funeral Inception
- Entrails of You
- Purgatorial Punishment
- Breeding the Spawn
- Pierced from Within
- Liege of Inveracity
- My Demise
- Dismal Dream
- Infecting the Crypts