The Occupation Domination Tour Makes A Stop In New Jersey For A Killer Night Of Death Metal
On Sunday, April 22, New Jersey was home for one night to some of the premier death metal bands in the world for the Occupation Domination tour. Featuring the likes of Aborted, Decrepit Birth, Cattle Decapitation, and Origin, this package had something for every fan of death metal. The tour came at the tail-end of a day-long metal festival that was going on at the venue. By the time the first band on the tour package, Battlecross, hit the stage around 6:30, some audience members had been there for almost six hours. That didn’t affect the early bands too much, but the later ones would see how having 12 hours of live metal can impact a crowd.
Looking at the four big-name bands mentioned above, it could be assumed that the show would be intense on the death metal side. While that did prove to be the case, Battlecross was the lone exception. Their riffs are in that gray “thrash/death” territory that others like Razor Of Occam tread alongside. The band was pulling a good portion of their songs from their latest album, and Metal Blade debut, “Pursuit Of Honor.” While a lot of opening bands tend to be background buzz, or some free time to get another kind of buzz going, Battlecross was very commanding in their stature. Their half-hour flew by with the audience being very receptive.
The same couldn’t be said to Rings Of Saturn, which took the prize of “Worst band of the night.” Their technical approach to deathcore was more flaccid than exuberant, and the only exciting thing about their set was watching a guy fail hard on a spin kick. Having a front-row seat to witnessing a guy land flat on his ass was more enjoyable than the non-descriptive, boring set from the Californian quintet.
Aborted, Decrepit Birth and Cattle Decapitation each had about 30 minutes to tear faces off. Aborted lead vocalist Sven de Caluwé mentioned to the crowd during a break in-between songs that this was the band’s first time in the U.S. in over four years, and the ruthless audience dispelled all the energy built up from waiting that long. Finding rejuvenation with “Global Flatline,” the band tore through songs like the title track and “Coronary Reconstruction” with a vicious glee that got the pits in a violent frenzy.
That frenzy died down for the technical metal of Decrepit Birth. The crowd almost stayed still, not out of tiredness or boredom, but to watch in awe as guitarists Matt Sotelo and Chase Fraser traded off leads that went all over their guitars. Bill Robinson’s deep growls were in fine form on this night. By this time, the crowd began to disperse out of the bar. What was a packed room in the back of a bar a few hours prior now had enough room to get to the front of the stage without having to shove people around.
Cattle Decapitation put on the best performance of the night. Their set was all new material, except for a few deep cuts. Most bands don’t play half a new album live weeks before its release date, but Cattle Decapitation threw that notion to the wolves. The crowd was very into the songs, and “A Living, Breathing Piece Of Defecating Meat,” “Lifestalker,” and “Kingdom Of Tyrants” came off more vile in a live setting. Vocalist Travis Ryan proved that there aren’t studio tricks in play with his inconceivable range, and they had the diminishing crowd hoping for a headline tour in the near future.
By the time Origin hit the stage around 10:20, it was clear the audience was spent from all the blasting and heaviness thrown in their direction. There were about 50 people left to watch Origin tear through a set masked by technical issues, which the band worked through to the best of their ability. While they only have one guitarist to bear the brunt of the work, Paul Ryan performed enough flashy playing to make up for it. New vocalist Jason Keyser did a solid job with the material, especially the vicious “Expulsion Of Fury” and insane musicianship of “The Aftermath.”
As a death metal fan, the Occupation Domination tour package was about as good as one can expect. Almost every act delivered the type of ear-bleeding brutality that death metal is known for. If there was one drawback, it was that those bands had to follow a whole bunch of other local acts that have been playing since the early afternoon. The crowd spent all their energy on Aborted and Cattle Decapitation, leaving little for Origin. Ignoring that small complaint, it’s hard to argue about bands of that stature playing together over the course of five hours.
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