WORDS: Henry Jones PHOTOS: James Weaver
Returning on their 10th anniversary Decade of Despair tour, deathcore veterans CARNIFEX have thus far proved they are in it for the long haul. With five studio albums on the shelf, the San Diego deathcore act have helped solidify the genre’s foundations, and it seems the have no intention of stalling any time soon. Making another of their frequent runs through Manchester, this time in the reputable Sound Control, the band are accompanied by an amalgamated mix of familiar faces in the form of WITHIN THE RUINS, FALLUJAH, and BORIS THE BLADE.
Opening the night to a sparse and somewhat unenthusiastic crowd were Australian deathcore act BORIS THE BLADE. Playing a small selection of technical riffs unfortunately did not save the set from being offset by the obnoxious behaviour of the band members. Spitting your drink into the front row, alas, does not ring quite as well when the crowd just aren’t quite that into the groove of things yet.
Drawing a somewhat larger crowd, Californian progressive death metal entrepreneurs FALLUJAH followed with a set rich in detail and lurid with atmosphere. Playing a tasteful mixture of their two studio full length albums and the intervening EP, Nomadic, the band treated those present to an experience worth remembering. Capturing in enormous clarity every highlight of their refined signature elements, the euphoric immensity of the resulting wall of sound was a spectacle of proficiency. Every lead practiced and powerful, every fill precise and defined. Never has FALLUJAH’s sound been heavier.
The band even showcased a new song from their upcoming and as yet untitled third studio album, a composition of grippingly powerful grooves interwoven with rich melodies and vast depth. Unfortunately, the vocals suffered at this point due to microphone difficulties, with persisted intermittently though the set. Due to this being a new song, the lack of vocals was not as bothersome as one might expect. Even as an instrumental experience, it still proved masterful. Few newer acts can rival such a performance, and with a new album on the way soon, they may be on the cusp of something great.
WITHIN THE RUINS took the stage next to an enthusiastic response. Playing a mixed set favouring their most recent two releases, the band appears to have made the right choice in leaning heavily on their new groove-heavy style. While still implementing a skilfully composed blend of neoclassical melodies and metalcore elements, the sound has grown to encompass a much lower tuning and a much richer, djentier tone, and a much more polished production style. As a result, their live sound was wonderfully clear and balanced. Unfortunately, WITHIN THE RUINS continue to make th mistake of not hiring a touring guitarist. As a result, their sound, one which revels in its own complexity, staggers under the weight of backing tracks. This approach to performing the material could have been implemented nearly seamlessly, however guitarist Joe Cocchi seems to judge poorly which layer should be related to the crowd through his own guitar. When riffs favouring the low end came to focus, he instead favours playing the atmospheric leads over it, and vice versa. Sometimes this worked to his favour, other times it staggered momentum of the songs. That being said, when the solos and leads implemented in the newer material were played, Cocchi proved his incredible accuracy and speed in playing.
Closing the night off, CARNIFEX took the stage, driving headlong into a set showcasing some of the classics of the genre, along with a few subtle lessons for those approaching the five album benchmark. The problem with anniversary tours is a troublesome one. Unfortunately, playing a headlining set showcasing the best of a band’s material from every album can often magnify glaring similarities in a densely populated and rapidly aging genre. While CARNIFEX’s newer material has provided enough excitement to keep the set interesting, the set serves as a powerful reminder that deathcore is getting older faster and faster, and the time may be nigh to push the genre forward, with this decade anniversary tour hopefully serving as a suitable close to a long and repetitive chapter of a book written entirely in binary code.
Check out our exclusive photo gallery of the night’s action in Manchester: