Death To All / Obituary / Massacre
Swamp Leper Stomp Tour
Best Buy Theater
New York, NY
November 30, 2014
Review by InfamousButcher, Photos by SheWolf
What is Florida Death Metal you may ask? It’s brutal music that originated in the swampland of Tampa, Florida some 30 years ago, savage, punishing, and uncompromising! For examples of this awesome genre, look no further than the 2014 Death To All Swamp Leper Stomp North American tour! Now in its 3rd iteration, the band that celebrates Chuck Schuldiner’s (Death) music teamed up with Florida Death Metal veterans Obituary and Massacre to bring us some fucking sickness! I love all of these bands so when the tour was announced I was stoked! Time to get infected with leprosy and become a fucking biohazard!
The venue for tonight’s show is the Best Buy Theater in Times Square. The 3,500 capacity arena is great for a metal show – large pit area, standing room balcony, and rows of stadium style seats in the back. The seats were closed off tonight as the event was not sold out; maybe 2,000 people came out for the show. Sound quality and acoustics are great, I’ve seen lots of good stuff here (Motorhead, Anthrax, Testament, The Black Crowes) and it’s always sounded great. Stage is large but not too high, so easier for photographers. No stage diving (bummer!).
Massacre goes way back, formed in the early 80s by former Mantas / Death members Rick Rozz and Kam Lee. Massacre is best known for producing one of the greatest death metal albums of all time, 1991’s FROM BEYOND. Also, several of their members were in Death during the LEPROSY and SPIRITUAL HEALING era. Massacre has recently re-formed with a new lineup consisting of original members Rick Rozz (guitars) and Terry Butler (bass) and new members Ed Webb (vocals) and Mike Mazzonetto (drums). They also put out a killer new album earlier this year, BACK FROM BEYOND. This is their first US tour in many years, so I was very excited to finally get to see this legendary band live.
Massacre took the stage and promptly dove into the old classic “Biohazard” (BLACK PLAGUE!) to commence the ass kicking! Ed Webb’s vocal style is similar to Kam Lee and vintage Barney Greenway (Napalm Death), basically if the Incredible Hulk could sing; this is what he would sound like! Rick can shred with the best of them and his screaming solos were awesome. The rhythm team of Terry and Mike were also impressive laying down the wall of sound foundation. Set highlights included “Defeat Remains” (WARRIORS’ HEADS BOWED IN SHAME FOR THEY HAVE FAILED THEIR KING!), “Dawn of Eternity” (I love the old shit! – THE FALL OF MAN IS NOW AT HAND!), and new song “False Revelation”. I enjoyed their set but wanted more. Only 6 songs were played, no “From Beyond” or “Corpsegrinder”, two of their best known and loved songs. Closer was a cover of Death’s “Mutilation” which was cool but this would have been better as part of the DTA encore. Rick and Terry used to be part of Death. Why couldn’t they join DTA onstage for “Mutilation” or “Corpsegrinder”? Unfortunately, it has just been announced that Ed and Terry have left Massacre, bringing an end once again to this great band. I am saddened by this news and feel fortunate to have seen them this one time. Hopefully they will return from beyond once more. On a happier note, BACK FROM BEYOND is one of the best albums of the year, pick up a copy if you like old school death metal!
Massacre set list:
Obituary is the epitome of Florida Death Metal – a bunch of redneck hillbillies playing low tuned, grinding guitars, straightforward hammering drums, and John Tardy’s unique piercing inhuman growls. I love it. Nobody sounds like them because they can’t be replicated. Thirty years ago in the Tampa swamps, the Tardy brothers (singer John and drummer Donald) got together with guitarist Trevor Perez to take what Celtic Frost was doing to the next level. There have been a few lineup changes over the years but those 3 members have remained intact and the sound has never changed. This is evidenced by their 9th album, INKED IN BLOOD, which was released earlier this year. Raw, angry, and grinding, the album has a lot of similarities to their classic 1989 debut SLOWLY WE ROT and their best album, 1990’s CAUSE OF DEATH. Obituary is the best live death metal band of all time, and I was very excited to see them perform some new material live.
The lights dimmed and the energy level shot way up as Obituary took the stage and started grinding away with instrumental “Redneck Stomp”. The circle pit started immediately and the carnage really started when John emerged from the stage corner and started growling his way through “Stinkupuss” and “Intoxicated” (YOU KILL YOURSELF!! YOU KILL YOURSELF!!). Guitarists Trevor and Ken (Andrews, full time band member since last year) just hit us with this heavy as fuck tone you could feel reverberate through your body. Donald and Terry (Butler, also of Massacre) carried the low end, delivering pounding drums and bass. FUCK YEAH THIS IS AWESOME!
John proved once again that he is the best death metal vocalist ever. Tonight, every ghoulish groan and growl was fierce, powerful, and perfect and he was never drowned out. His voice has barely changed at all over the last 25 years. John’s voice is so fucking loud at times he sings with the mic several inches away from his face. This is extremely rare, especially for death metal vocalists that usually look like they are eating the mic.
Set was a great mix of SLOWLY WE ROT and CAUSE OF DEATH material with 3 new songs from INKED IN BLOOD. Highlights included my personal favorite, “Infected” (Pit was insane for that one! TEARING RID YOU OF YOUR SKIN, INFECTION SOON SETS IN!), “Visions in My Head” (killer new tune!), “Inked in Blood” (heavy groove!), “Violence” (blistering fast new song!), “Chopped in Half / Turned Inside Out” (did a group headbang with like 12 people in the pit!), and Obituary’s signature legendary closer, “Slowly We Rot”. Pit was sick throughout as the crowd responded to the best band of the night. Obituary’s obliterating performance was phenomenal with flawless execution from the masters and we were all blown away afterward. They are a must see live band and all metalheads need to pick up a copy of INKED IN BLOOD, it’s my pick for album of the year!
Obituary set list:
- Redneck Stomp
- Immortal Visions
- Visions In My Head
- Chopped in Half
- Turned Inside Out
- Inked In Blood
- Slowly We Rot
DEATH TO ALL
The Swamp Leper Stomp Tour’s DTA lineup consisted of Max Phelps (Cynic) on guitar and vocals, Bobby Koelble (Death) on lead guitar, Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Sadus, Death) on bass, and Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Testament, Death) on drums. Gene is the replacement for Sean Reinert, who had to pull out of the tour due to physical injuries. Fucking killer lineup! Max handled the vocals last year and did an excellent job. Gene is among the best drummers in metal, Bobby is a unique guitarist and Steve is an incredible bass player. Let’s fucking have at it!
Opening song was “The Philosopher” from INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS and it was fucking brilliant! The crunch of the riffs by Bobby and Max was awesome, and Steve’s bass was cool and foreboding. Max channeled Chuck well in the vocal department as he growled with ferocity. After that we got a heavy, sick one – two punch from LEPROSY, the title track and “Left to Die”! FUCKING AWESOME! Steve played a 6 string bass throughout the set. HUMAN songs like “Lack of Comprehension” and “Suicide Machine” showcased his playing style and talent. Gene is a beast, his powerful blast beats and fills completely destroyed us. He is among the very best drummers in extreme metal and I am always awed when I watch him play.
The set touched on all 7 Death albums and was very diverse. Other highlights included “Spiritual Healing” (SPEAK NO MORE LIES! IT’S YOUR TURN TO DIE!), “Symbolic” (YET AT THE SAME TIME WE’RE INVISIBLE!), “Crystal Mountain”, “Overactive Imagination”, and of course the immortal closer “Pull the Plug” (final mosh of the night, so spill your buckets!). Musicianship throughout was stellar. Unlike previous DTA tours there was no footage or montages of Chuck in between songs or before the encore. It’s a nice touch, but it’s already been done so I guess that’s why they went no frills this time.
This was the best DTA bill I’ve ever seen in terms of bands. Any bill with Obituary on it is killer, and then we also got the first US tour of Massacre in years and a great DTA lineup. Unfortunately, the set times were all cut a little short because the show had to end by 10:30. I don’t know what the fuck was up with that, but similar things have happened at recent NYC shows I attended this year (Suffocation, Deicide) so unfortunately this is becoming a trend. This problem aside, the show was amazing and everyone went home emotionally euphoric and physically exhausted. I limped around for 3 days afterward, proudly wearing my badges of honor from the Obituary pit! This could be the last time we see a DTA tour honoring Chuck Schuldiner’s legacy. I feel fortunate to have seen Death in 1993 and 3 different versions of DTA between 2012 and 2014. Chuck’s music is timeless and far reaching, touching multiple generations worldwide. He will never be forgotten.
Death To All setlist:
- The Philosopher
- Leprosy / Left to Die
- Suicide Machine
- Overactive Imagination
- Lack of Comprehension
- Spiritual Healing / Within the Mind
- Zero Tolerance
- Bite the Pain
- Zombie Ritual / Baptized in Blood
- Crystal Mountain
- Pull the Plug