Cephalic Carnage Tour Diary: Part 4

by Jay H. Gorania

Convening on the other side of the border, the metallic circus reconvened in Seattle where the merch area was outside, sunshine squeezing out beads of sweat early on, the moon later providing dim light to the cooler evening during which time a young, blonde stripper stopped by the merch stand and took her shirt off in hopes that I’d give her some Cephalic merch for free.

Earlier in the tour, in Detroit, I had been screaming at a gutter punk wearing a Leftover Crack shirt who was begging for “free shit,” so comparatively this was obviously a pleasant experience, and a pleasant sight. But…she had no money.

No shirt for you!

Jay: 1. Stripper: 0.

Next up: Portland, Oregon. The Northeastern city, boasting some modest, but charming housing near its industrial district that’s similar to that found in Italy and Greece, is left-leaning and one of America’s most cannabis-friendly locales. With this in mind, it was surprising that the venue’s merch Nazi, a tall black dude with a mound of dreads and chin-strap beard that made him look like a Klingon from Star Trek, said what he said.

Uttered in the tone not unlike the douche-bag, stereotypical middle-management goon in Office Space, Klingon boy spouted, “Yea, if you could no longer sell those pipes and put them away, that would be great. Thanks.”

I just sold them under the table from that point on.

The Summer Slaughter tour was eventful, hectic and full of surprises, but all good things come to an end, and this bad-ass tour made its grand finale in San Francisco at the remarkable venue the Fillmore, high reaching is its height, the distance between floor to its elegant ceiling met with grandiose chandeliers.

Somewhat pre-planned, it was an enjoyable time running on stage with dudes from the other bands and crews during the tour’s final song: Decapitated’s “Spheres of Madness.”

Rather than violently moshing as I had hoped, everyone was hugging, headbanging and high-fiving each other in proper hippie fashion (shhhhh, don’t tell the metal tough guys!).

In their backstage room immediately after the capstone performance, Decapitated’s new singer, Rafal Piotrowski, was wiping the sweat from his dread-lock draped forehead, sighing with a breath of sentimentalism. “This is the greatest night of my life.”

After we arrived in Denver, driving there non-stop, we were dead-tired. And granted, the prospect of hearing more screaming dudes and loud guitars was probably the last thing any of us would have wished for, but hell, Slayer was playing the next evening.

Cephalic bassist Nick opted out, and told me he wasn’t much of a Slayer fan, adding that he thinks their solos are quick but without purpose, a string of random notes plucked down the guitar, and that other bands can solo just as quickly but with complexity and direction.

He is dead to me.

Um, whether or not he is spot-on correct, I was banging my head and pumping my fist with the devotion of a religious zealot. Lenzig hooked us up with backstage passes so Brian and I, upon entering the winding corridor wrapping around the venue’s interior, almost walked into Dave Mustaine, who is a damn, tall son of a bitch.

Making our way toward what was literally the backstage area, Slayer was ten feet from us, and Lenzig had to pull me out of the way from someone walking up behind with clamoring chains by their side. It was Kerry King’s path that I was blocking.

After years of interviewing metal superheroes, it’s rare for me to get star-struck by anyone, but I was definitely not nonchalant. I’m sure I exclaimed something to the effect of, “Dude, it’s Kerry King!”

Anyway, Brian and I shot the shit with Len outside Slayer’s bus, and Len boastingly showed us his brand new state of Colorado issued license to toke up.

Near the front of the venue, longtime and now-former Cephalic guitarist Zac Joe jumped on Brian’s back to catch him by surprise (interestingly, he said he got off the phone with Kevin Stewart-Panko a few hours earlier in the evening).

His work was obviously impressive with Cephalic, but his split with the band was a good thing from my perspective since Brian is a formidable replacement, and Misled by Certainty is an amazing album, and since Zack’s new band, Collapse, has put together a handful of some impressive, brutal songs that he was actually outside the show to distribute.

A little earlier at the show, while I was exiting the pisser, I was shocked to see the tour’s stage manager Dane and All Shall Perish’s singer Eddie standing by a beer stand. As it turns out, they were in Denver for the evening to catch the show, hang with Cephalic dudes and crash at Steve Goldman’s house. It was a pit-stop on their way dropping off and picking up vehicles since All Shall Perish crashed their van toward the end of tour (though it was wrecked, everyone was okay).

Hanging out later that night in Denver at a joint called 3 Kings Tavern, Eddie was talking about a conversation he had, around the time of the crash, with a few people including members of Decapitated. Apparently he was describing the obvious, that it’s unsettling and terrible, and he turned to Decapitated guitarist Vogg.

“But I can’t imagine what you went through.”

To refresh those who may not be too familiar with one of the most tragic anecdotes in metal history, shortly after their run on the first Summer Slaughter tour, that had also been alongside Cephalic Carnage, among others, Decapitated’s tour bus crashed in Europe in the fall of 2007, seriously injuring then vocalist Adrian “Covan” Kowanek and claiming the life of Witold “Vitek” Kieltyka, Decapitated’s drummer. But Vitek was more than Vogg’s band mate, he was his brother.

So obviously without the intention of hurting Vogg with his comments, Eddie’s words nonetheless struck a nerve, Vogg instantly dropping his head, walking away and toward his bunk in the bus.

He and Decapitated have been through more than anyone should ever go through, so the fact that they’re back and as tight as they sound is a testament to their tenacity. And, of course, it’s great news for death metal fans across the globe.

RIP Vitek. Acknowleding the past as well as their unyielding obsession for death metal, the logo on some of Decapitated’s new merch aptly reads, “From Pain to Strength.”