Metal fans are passionate people. The lineup for this year’s Summer Slaughter caused a bit of stir among the different breeds of metal heads for putting bands like Oceano and As Blood Burns Black on the same stage as Dying Fetus and The Black Dahlia Murder. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I sure as hell wasn’t gonna miss Black Dahlia.

Within The Ruins won the pre-tour fan vote and opened the show with a merciless assault. They set the bar high and got the crowd beating on each other in no time.

Fleshgod Apocalypse were some classy dudes. Seriously. They wore tuxedos, and face paint. Their Italian style of technical death metal would have benefited from some extra room on stage and a cinematic light show, but they did their best with what they were given.

The boys from As Blood Runs Black came out next and I have to admit I judged them on sight. They were the cleanest cut and freshest faced guys in the room, and the backdrop of their current record’s cover art was enough to make me think I’d be taking a break. I was wrong, and I’m sorry. The crowd truly tested the Masquerade’s floor during this set. These guys were brutal. Near the end of the set, the vocalist split the pit into two sides and had them wait for his count to charge in at each other Braveheart style. While kids fought for their freedom, he explained “This is how we party in L.A.”

Next up was Oceano. They offered up one of the slowest breakdowns I’ve ever experienced. Seconds of silence between sludgy riffs and cymbal crashes. The vocalist actually had to shush the crowd so we could all hear the sound of the pit. “Shut the f*** up and mosh!” To his credit, they all did.

Holy TriForce Batman, it’s Powerglove! Video game and children’s television show themes played by men in gym shorts and foam spiked armor. They win the award for best quote, “We’re here to f*** with your childhood!” Best half time show ever.

Dying Fetus gave me my only real break. The crowd seemed to be a little tired and the band’s stage presence didn’t match the speed or intensity of their music. Don’t get me wrong, blood was still spilt on the dance floor, just not as much. Honorable mention for the Dying Fetus sound man. He mixed DF, Oceano, and Within the Ruins, and it was some of the best sound I’ve heard at the Masquerade. Really, all of the sound was good, but this guy stood out.

During my break I went to see what was happening downstairs with the local metal bands. Sadly, due to marvelously efficient set changes and Georgia’s ban on smoking in all ages venues, not many folks made their way to the downstairs stage to see the locals during smoke breaks. It’s a shame. At least they can all say they opened for Black Dahlia at Summer Slaughter.

What can I say about Six Feet Under? That guy has some serious dreadlocks. At this point in the show, the award for most crowd surfers seemed to be a shoo-in. Unfortunately for the security staff, that was far from the truth.

Darkest Hour was the first band to be rid of the back-lined gear and could finally move around. They were also the first band to use floor lights which drastically changed the visual dynamics. These guys were full of energy and really riled up the crowd. Surely they’d win the coveted “Most Crowd Surfers” award, right?

Whitechapel slayed. The pit truly got scary and security had to throw or carry a number of people out of the venue. The music was masterfully performed, and the light show was worth watching, but my attention was constantly pulled out to the pit to watch the glorious battle. I’ll definitely see them again next time they come through.

This was it. This was the moment we were all here for. As I was crouched in the photo pit I heard one of the security guards chanting to himself, “…just one more band, just one more band…”. They had their work cut out for them. The armies of Hell rose up to storm the gates of Heaven as The Black Dahlia Murder pummeled our ear drums as if their very lives depended upon taking ours. The energy they fed to the crowd was chewed up, swallowed, and vomited back onto the stage in the form of countless bodies piling into the photo pit. At one point I had to put down my camera and help keep stage divers from running into the band. The last body to fly from the stage was, appropriately, the guitar player Brian, and he visibly enjoyed every second being passed around by the grateful fans. It was beautiful.

The crowd called for an encore but the show had to end so they could pack up and head to the next town. The guys in the band didn’t disappear into their buses though. They came right back out to greet those that stuck around. In fact, most of the bands could be seen mingling with the crowd, smoking on the back deck, or eating a burger with fans. On top of that, the concern that the old school metal fans and the new school deathcore fans wouldn’t get along was unwarranted and unfulfilled.  All in all I give the Summer Slaughter Tour four horns up.

Photos by Nate Thiel


Photos by Geoff Millwood