Dying Fetus/Beneath The Massacre/Suffokate @ Mod Club, Toronto, ON, November 24, 2009

By Laina Dawes

I have to admit that one of the reasons why I pitched Hellbound.ca a concert review of the Planetary Depravity Tour was because I wanted to see Dying Fetus guitarist John Gallagher and guitarist Michael Keene from The Faceless play live. Would they be able to pull their dexterous guitar feats off or were they simply studio tricks? Does Gallagher look as evil and demented as he sounds? Inquiring minds wanted to know.

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But I was waylaid by too much work at the day job, hence missing openers Enfold Darkness so I got to the Mod Club just in time to catch Oakland’s Suffokate, who I would have almost dismissed if it wasn’t for their stellar frontman Rick Hoover, whose casual banter (he asked if anyone in the audience was willing to let the band take a shower and sleep at their place, thereby completely destroying any idealized notions about the life of a touring metal band), fantastic vocals and stage presence (call me crazy but while extremely effective, it did seem a bit rehearsed) was a definite standout. The band, made up of former members of Legacy of Pain and Antagony were good, but in comparison to the next band, Beneath the Massacre, their no-frills deathcore was a bit pedestrian.

In terms of creating one of the best touring line-ups in awhile, gathering a collection of bands who have enough music similarities to make enough sense to tour together, but unique enough for those who only came to see Maryland’s Dying Fetus (based on the repeated cries for “One Shot, One Kill” and “you whore” I didn’t get the context of that one…or maybe that was directed at me) it was a great opportunity to check out bands like Beneath the Massacre as the Montreal band kicked some serious ass. Despite being somewhat distracted by the super-fine frontman Elliot Desgagnés kick-ass-bod – he is a dead ringer for The Red Chord’s Guy Kozowyk…..enough that thoughts of statutory rape suddenly seemed like a necessary evil for short-term gain – the quartet played some tracks from their latest, 2008’s Dystopia and 2007’s Mechanics of Dysfunction and promised that a new album is slated for early 2010.

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Awhile back, I read on one metal blog a mini-debate about bassists finger-tapping, which was another reason why I wanted to check out Dying Fetus as bassist Sean Beasley, who’s finger-tapping on their latest, Descend into Depravity is pretty impressive. However, Beneath the Massacre’s Dennis Bradley was astounding. Boasting a six string bass, he totally ripped it and as I scanned the crowd to see people’s reactions, there was probably about fifty acne-ridden teenaged boys standing there with their mouths open in amazement.

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But what Beneath the Massacre didn’t have – despite some awesome breakdowns – was groove and infectious breakdowns, which Dying Fetus had in spades. They played a great variety of tracks from previous albums, such as “One Shot, One Kill” (of course), “Justifiable Homicide,” “Homicidal Retribution” and off of Descend into Depravity one of my faves, “Shepherd’s Commandment.” The trio was solid, professional yet friendly and appreciative with Beasley, in between the most ferocious head -banging I have seen from a middle-aged man with hair down to his ass, doing most of the talking in between songs.

Because I was standing in front of a speaker through Dying Fetus’s set to get some shots for Hellbound and to stalk Gallagher, who did not disappoint – I thought my eardrums were going to bleed so I decided to jet and skip The Faceless, which in hindsight, was disappointing. I interviewed Keene last year for Metal Edge, loved their 2008 release, Planetary Duality and wanted to stick around to say hello. But my eardrums and my temper (white people, if you have something to say about black folks at shows, have the balls to say it to my face so I can kick your ass, proper) were about to explode, so I had to go. Great lineup, and if Beneath the Massacre’s new album is even better than what I heard Tuesday night, 2010 is going to be a great year for tech-metal music.

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Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.