Swamp Leper Stomp Tour 2014
Death To All Tours
with Obituary, Massacre & Rivers of Nihil
November 21, 2014
Review & Photos by Monika Deviat
Swamp Leper Stomp ’14, is the latest edition of the Death To All (DTA) tours to cross North America. DTA features former members of Death, celebrating the life and music of Chuck Schuldiner. Joining DTA for the North American trek were a couple of Florida death metal legends; Obituary and Massacre, as well as new comers from Pennsylvania, Rivers of Nihil.
The music of Death and its founder have been celebrated many times in Calgary, Alta., independent of the DTA tours. For a few consecutive years a charity event known as Chuck’s birthday Bash was held in Calgary. Like many such events it was organized by fans and supporters of Death and Schuldiner and the funds raised went to Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. Eric Greif – manager and lawyer for many of the bands on this year’s tour – until very recently called Calgary home and became involved in the Calgary based event and with local fans and bands. The last time the DTA tour came through Canada it did not stop in Calgary but went to Edmonton instead, with many Calgarians make the trek North. On November 21, 2014 the Swamp Leper Stomp tour made its stop in Calgary at MacEwan Hall.
The local opener for the night was Reverend Kill. Unfortunately they started very early and we were not able to make it in time to catch their set. We were just barely in time to catch Untimely Demises’ set. The Saskatchewan band joined the tour for a few western Canadian dates. The venue was very slow to fill up but as people were arriving they came up to the stage to check out the death metal infused thrash act. The set was laden with riffs and Untimely Demise tore through their very short set with a good selection of songs to show the crowd what they were about.
Rivers of Nihil were the first band up from the full touring roster. Their debut release The Conscious Seed of Light [Metalblade,2013] caught the attention of many death metal followers and just before embarking on this tour the band released a music video for “Mechanical Tress”. Rivers of Nihil brought a darker and more technical sound. They played an intense and tight set with lots of windmills, licks and a few breakdowns.
The last time Calgary saw Massacre was actually at one of the Birthday Bashes. That show was a bit more intimate and fun for fans as it was held in a smaller bar venue and you could get right up close and personal to the band. The large stage seemed a bit empty as only vocalist Ed Webb was moving around very much. The set still had people nodding their heads to the faster and groove filled style of death metal.
Obituary took the stage in front of their backdrop which had been hanging during all the previous bands’ sets. The banner featured the remarkable artwork from the newest release Inked In Blood [Gibtown Music/Relapse Records, 2014].Their set heavily sampled from the new album of course but a decent amount of older songs from through the catalogue were included, such as the required classic, “Slowly We Rot”. Donald Tardy played solidly behind his drum kit and would occasionally stand up to salute the crowd with a raised fit. Terry Butler’s bass was powerful alongside Kenny Andrews and Trevor Peres’ aggressive guitar riffs. John Tardy’s vocals were full of fury and he was an imposing figure on stage. The new material went over well with the crowd and the band is still impressing fans with their mastery of death metal.
Finally it was time for DTA and the venue was packed with people who wanted to see and share in this tribute to Death. Greif came on stage to introduce DTA and say a few words about Chuck Schuldiner and the celebration and remembrance of Death’s music. Gene Hoglan who had just replaced Sean Reinert on drums for this tour was greeted loudly by Calgary fans when he strode on stage first. After a few dates, Reinert unfortunately could not remain on the tour due to health reasons. The remaining members walking on stage and DTA launched right into “The Philosopher”, wasting no time in trying to squeeze in their 90 minute set before the University venue’s curfew. This version of the lineup also featured Steve DiGiorgio on bass, Bobby Koelble on guitar and Max Phelps of Cynic standing in place of Chuck Schuldiner. If you’ve seen the show or talked to anyone that has, you’ll know Phelps’ playing and singing is uncannily similar to Schuldiner.
The selections of songs for the set spanned almost the entire Death discography. Fans especially responded to songs like “Overactive Imagination”, “Symbolic” and “Flattening of Emotions”. DiGiorgio took time between songs to talk to fans, thank them for coming and to say a few words about Schuldiner. The encore concluded with “Crystal Mountain” and “Pull the Plug” with the crowd singing along loudly. Fans left thoroughly satisfied after a memorable evening of excellent death metal acts and a celebratory remembrance of the legendary Death and Chuck Schuldiner.
Thank you to Concertworks for setting us up and putting on such an excellent event and also making sure all the bands got their sets in, especially DTA who ended right at the venue’s curfew.