One of the best metal fests of the year just blew through the USA! The Metal Alliance Tour always features some of the best hard-hitting and underground metal bands. Formed in 2011, this black metal tour, year after year, is a ‘not to be missed’ event.
This year’s headliner, Behemoth, brought the black metal darkness all the way from Poland. Giving the audience the full Eastern European metal experience, Behemoth were loud, intimidating, and appropriately menacing. Sporting spikes and daunting hoods, the band created an atmosphere of a frozen blue post-apocalyptic wasteland. Challenging yet fun to shoot, the band played up to the photographers with an intentional ring wraith, statuesque presence without making eye contact.
New Orleans based Goatwhore had to be my personal favorite, but then again I’m a little biased seeing as how I used to live in the Crescent City. I hadn’t seen them live before and I’d have to say I was beyond impressed. Being pretty blown away by the bands on this tour, I really didn’t pay a lot of attention to set lists and tedious details. The point for me is to always get lost in the moment to really enjoy what I do. I tend to write from a more personal perspective than most.
With that being said, Goatwhore is a perfect assault on the senses. Whereas other death metal bands lose it with most songs sounding the same with the familiar low screaming vocals, Goatwhore brings the noise and the attitude.
Watching vocalist Ben Falgoust move, thrash, headbang, play his mic like a guitar, and beseeching the metal gods of the world by raising gauntlet clad arms to the rafters was pure metal magic to witness. The band changes it up with killer timing, on point guitars, and a symbiosis on stage that made me wonder why the hell this band isn’t bigger than they are. They are well on their way with being added to the Summer Slaughter Tour this summer. Check them out or deal with the consequences!
Invading the tour from Norway, 1349 seemed to have a serious loyal fan following having been around in one form or another since the late 90s. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see all of their set because I was waiting patiently to interview Inferno of Behemoth. But from what I did see, there were only a few stand out songs for me. To their credit, I’m not familiar with their catalog at all and at times it did seem like the usual black metal drone was giving way to something a bit more meaningful and coherent. However, if they went too far that way, they’d be into the prog area and I’m sure their die-hard fans wouldn’t be having any of that rubbish. Just ask their Swedish neighbors, Opeth.
Inquisition took the stage before 1349 and gave a surprisingly rich and loud performance for a band of two members: one with a head full of hair named Dagon on vocals and guitar and the other, a dude named Incubus, on drums. Come to find out later, Behemoth’s sound engineer was running their board and made them sound like they were coming through the walls. Although this band has been around for years, seeing them on the Metal Alliance tour was my first introduction to Inquisition. Although Dagon had this Sonny Barger-electrolarynx vocal style, I liked them and will have to add them to my list.
The band was originally formed in 1988 in Cali, Colombia by Dagon. The band started as a thrash metal act and evolved into raw black metal in 1994. In 1996, Dagon left Colombia and moved back to the United States to continue Inquisition and search for a new drummer. That same year Dagon met Incubus, who joined the band on drums and the creation of their dÃ©but full length album began. This line-up has remained stable for more than fifteen years.
Pennsylvania’s Black Crown Initiate opened up the festival with the surprising and progressive vocal prowess of lead guitarist Andy Thomas. Black metal festivals are usually a cookie monster scream fest, so it was promising for things to start out in a different light until lead singer James Dorton joined the party and he brought a clean, guttural scream to toss around the room along with his hair.
All in all I liked what I heard, but I have to say that the band definitely needs to utilize Andy a LOT more. He bummed a smoke from me outside and I had the chance to tell him how much I liked his particular contribution to the band. He informed me he only just started singing and the band had only been playing together a little less than a year. Getting in on the Metal Alliance tour is definitely a step in the right direction. I can see a heavier prog future for them. I look forward to hearing how they grow and evolve.
The Metal Alliance Tour was a grand success and I can’t wait for it to come back around next year. I’d have to say it was one of the coolest, most down to Earth fests I’ve been to in a long while. I give it the Savage seal of approval!