Saturday, April 20th (4/20) I got to attend the second annual Chaos and Carnage tour as it made its way to Reverb in Reading, Pennsylvania. Reverb is one of those venues that I have a love/hate relationship with. The sound is pretty awful, the parking is a nightmare because the lot gets filled quickly, and trying to find parking in Reading is a futile mission. But, they do book some of the best metal artists and tours such as this one. 2019 saw the tour co-headlined by deathcore heavyweights Whitechapel, and death metal legends Dying Fetus along with Revocation, SPITE, Fallujah, Uncured, Buried Above Ground and a slew of local acts in tow. I got to the show at the ripe time of six ’o clock excited to see some different genres of metal come together to kick some brutal ass.
I walked in just as a band (which I assumed to be SPITE) was setting up. The crowd began chanting “Spite! Spite! Spite!” and the pit started to form, already preparing for the violence that SPITE’s live shows are known to bring. As the band members began to walk onto the stage, I realized it wasn’t SPITE. To my surprise, it was actually Fallujah. Slightly disappointed, they still got a great reaction from the crowd. They were apparently more receptive to Fallujah’s new material than I was. Fallujah is a progressive metal band started in 2007 from San Francisco, California. Their new album showed the band straying away from their signature blend of shoegaze and melodic death metal, and move towards a more progressive metalcore sound. Luckily they played some tracks from previous records such as Dreamless and 2014’s The Flesh Prevails. Alas; the tour was set out to support their newest record Undying Light, so most of the songs played were off of that album. The new front man, Antonio Palermo seemed at place even though this was only their second tour with him. All over it was a solid, but underwhelming performance.
As I awaited the next band, I began to wonder if I had missed Spite, as they were originally scheduled to perform before Fallujah. Quite frankly this would’ve pissed me off as they were who I was most excited to see! I was dying to see their raw and untamed anger put forth in a live setting. Spite is a newer, vulgar, deathcore band from Michigan. I had been hyping up their performance in my head since I had purchased tickets. Fortunately, when we saw fill-in drummer Matt Guglielmo start setting up his drum kit, we knew all was well, and the excitement came rushing back. I had previously seen Guglielmo fill in on drums for The Acacia Strain and knew he was more than capable of holding it down for SPITE. His hard-hitting playing is also quite the treat to watch! The moment they began to play the tone in the entire venue changed into one of malevolence and hostility, in the best of ways. Darius Tehrani, the vocalist, brought his unforgivingly spiteful presence. His vocals matched perfectly with the gut-punching riffs and brutal breakdowns. They played one of my favorite songs, “IED” off of their album, Nothing is Beautiful. My favorite lines from the song speak of squeezing a man’s brains and eyes out of his skull while eating them, and then “picking his memories from between my teeth.” SPITE brought an absolutely unrelenting set playing both fan favorites and their newest song, “Root of all Evil.” Their twenty-five minute set left the crowd wanting more and surely won over some of the more skeptical, old school death metal fans in attendance.
Revocation is a death metal band with both thrash and progressive influences from Boston, Massachusetts. They were up next, and I was totally stoked as I had seen them before and was completely blown away. It’s an understatement to say that we were in for another treat. Vocalist and guitarist Dave Davidson is known to bewilder viewers with his technical and unique sounding solos and leads. Not to mention his thought out, illustrative lyrics. You can’t help but be taken to another planet by their Lovecraftian inspired lyrics such as ones from their new album, The Outer Ones. People surged to the front of the venue as they began. It was the biggest crowd I had seen them play in front of and they deserved the full attention of every person. They played a couple of their more popular songs such as “Madness Opus,” where I found myself screaming the line “staring into the maw of the void, where infernal incisors endlessly gnash!!!” 2009’s “Existence is Futile,” to everyone’s delight, came early in the set. They played songs from The Outer Ones and performed it as if they had done so hundreds of times before, they are truly masters of their craft. Their consistency both live and on record proves never to dissatisfy. Revocation proved their staying power, and I can see these guys carrying the torch for the next generation of legendary acts such as the band that followed.
Once Dying Fetus’s banner went up, you could definitely tell it was a Saturday night! After twenty-eight years they are still playing death metal to crowds internationally, and that surely calls for some respect. Everyone was fired up and ready to sing along if that’s possible with death metal. As they began to play, everybody started banging their heads in sync. It was a unifying experience as there was a mix of seasoned veterans and newbies to death metal jamming out together to some harsh tunes. Drummer Trey Williams is a machine, pounding away at the drums as if he has never aged. The same can be said for talented front men John Gallagher and Sean Basley. This eleven song set seemed to be an appropriately long time for the trio and consisted of their top hits of course — nonetheless, a stellar execution of classic songs.
Finally, it the moment lots of people were waiting for, the last band Whitechapel’s turn. In terms of live production, Whitechapel and Dying Fetus are polar opposites. With Dying Fetus you have one guitar, bass, and drums backed by an array of guitar and bass cabs, mic’d up and pounding you in the face, an experience that gives goosebumps to any true metal fan. Whitechapel on the other hand, take a different approach to their live sound. Whitechapel utilize Kemper profiling amps, which is a preamp/effects processor that sends its signal directly to the front of house speakers, subs, and any other kind of speaker the artist, or sound person may want. For a venue like Reverb, where the acoustics are terrible, eliminating any unnecessary noise (i.e., guitar cabs on stage) greatly improves the overall mix of the show. This was a welcome gesture on behalf of my ears, as they needed a break from the barrage of distortion and fuzz laid forth by Dying Fetus.
This tour is Whitechapel’s first in support of their newest album, The Valley released on Metal Blade Records just last month. Whitechapel solidified themselves as one of modern metals heaviest and extreme bands with 2008’s The Somatic Defilement, and 2009’s This is Exile, as well as performing the material live with three guitarists, making their shows all the more crushing. Moving forward ten years and hundreds of copycats later, Whitechapel have taken their sound new places, both live and in the studio, with the latest addition being very prominent clean vocals. I was interested to see how these songs would go over live because it wasn’t my personal favorite, and I knew I wouldn’t be the only one. This set featured four new songs, only one of which utilized clean vocals, and the crowd dug it. They only played songs from their last four records spanning the last five or so years. This is just yet another sign of them trying to move forward from their deathcore past.
Another thing Whitechapel have seem to become reliant on is the use of backing tracks. It’s hard at times to tell what’s being played by people and what’s just a tape. Their sound was flawless, almost too perfect! The biggest highlight of their set was famed YouTube star drummer, Alex Rudinger. He’s played with everyone from The Faceless to Conquering Dystopia to Threat Signal, and has done a variety of session work, both studio and live. He deserves to be playing with a band like Whitechapel and honestly, may even be too good for them! He played the parts exactly like the record, note for note, and didn’t even look phased! Either way, he needs to be seen by the masses. He truly is one of, if not, the best extreme metal drummer out there today in my opinion. His live performance and resume speak for itself.
I left before the end of Whitechapel, taking with me a deep sense of satisfaction. With the amount of adrenaline live extreme music induces, it can be tiring to watch! It was amazing to see so many genres of metal come together and destroy. Each band brought very different elements to the table. It is proof that when different genres come together, they can create a diverse and unique live experience like no other.