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Witness all the beer and bodies flying! Decibel Metal and Beer Fest Day One

Text and Photos: Charles Nickles

Were I a nobler man, I’d be telling you all about how I survived the Integrity, etc. gig last night what with all the beer and bodies flying, the crowd-killing and borderline riot that ensued from packing so much heavy into such a small room.

But I had work to do.

Like, real work…the kind that pays the rent and when I was done with that nonsense I decided the best way to ease myself into a weekend of extremes would be to catch dinner and easy drinks with Danny and Aimee who I haven’t seen since the funeral.

Do I regret missing Cloak and Devil Master? Sure. But I’ll take regret, money and friends over a cracked skull any day I’m up against so many bands and breweries.

Or, you know…any day.

But that violence is all hearsay from the drunks in the cigarette pit. What I know is all outlined below and is mostly relegated to bands and though I did take pains to make notes on the many, many, many beers I enjoyed over the weekend they’re decidedly terse and presented between live pictures and scribbles and (admittedly) slightly editorialized by a decidedly fuzzy recollection of the best beer blasting I’ve had since I last split my head open.


Grind, even the most grotesquely caustic and self-effacing/erasing, dead-toothed godhead turbine grind is a real motherfucker to translate to a big stage but WAKE sure as shit do try and find a moderate degree of success. Sure, they’re tight as fuck and suitably ferocious and all but the distance between the band and the bodies makes their particularly feral ire seem more mournful than immediate which may make the more reflective nature of their scorch more evident but robs the audience of the pure animal bliss of being scared shitless.

Burial – Concepts of Dismemberment Double IPA: Bitter. Potent but not unkind. Like motor oil on a summer’s day. A fine, potent start to a long, brutal day.

Tomb Mold

Tomb Mold echo the problem of space and amplify the disassociation by featuring a vocalist behind the kit, tucked way back in the stage while at the front, one guitarist bucks and brays, the other alternates stern time and freakout wails and the bassist plays bass like a wounded Spartan.

Something about it feels a little Spinal Tap to me and I say that with the deepest reverence for the film and with the firm belief that a band so vested in the proud repugnancy of their sound would think it amusing that more than a few people in the audience were confused to the point of irritation (and not yet THAT drunk) trying to figure out just where the fuck all those “GROOOOOOOLLLLSS” were coming from.

Still and all, Tomb Mold brought the ugly like so few deathheads do; chumming hope with grime and guts like Ed Gein’s Meemaw’s “Country Stew.”

Oliver – Brown Ale with Coffee (name forgotten): “You feel like a pick-me-up?” “Sure! It’s never too early for the shakes.” Did I forget I just did cocaine? LET’S DO PUSHUPS AND CRY!


Oh, damn. That’s Mike Hill. I know that dude.

Or I used to, once…sorta.

A lifetime or so ago my (then) friend Anthony once took me to a show at North 6 to see his grandma’s tenant play because he knew I liked some noisy shit (I was SERIOUSLY into Hydrahead at the time). Turns out said tenant was the frontman for Anodyne who were so fucking terrifying that when I was introduced to Mr. Hill after the show I pretty much blacked out and woke up on Anthony’s floor the next morning with the Filth and the Fury DVD intro looping endlessly.

So I guess I don’t know him at all, really.

But he still scares the shit out of me.

More so, now, perhaps that he’s fronting TOMBS and copping the long slow torrential approach to ruptured spleens, commanding his place at the head of the stage with the determined scowl of a teamster freshly fucked out of his wages.

The band shores up his stony grimace with a trenchant blend of tattooed zen and blackjack stomps which turn the band’s somewhat (recorded) palatial nature into a pipeline rupture weaving a sound so thick what air it affords is almost insulting.

War Pigs – Foggy Geezer IPA: Fun, hazy, sweet. I can see a full case leading to Type 2 Diabetes which…I mean…who doesn’t want to party like Wilford Brimley?


UADA have been getting a lot of hype among the ink-hearted knowhows recently and, listening to their records, I could get it a little bit, I guess. They’re from the Cascadian school of raging earth-first obscurity with just enough dead Swedish melody to separate them from the rabble of so many Neo-Pagan apocalypse hippies and I’d bet dollars to doughnuts hearing their truly bitchin’ white boy, dirt mouth solos that they are as versed in the wonder of Billy Gibbons’ licks as they are in the ghost of Euronymous.

But that’s just black n roll, baby.

Which I think may be my new favorite super sub set of metal and which I didn’t know existed before I saw ZUD play a mess hall a few years back and had all but forgotten about until I stood agape in front of these four cloaked and leather clad lunatics, backlit and fogged to hell.

I mean, they fucking owned that stage. OWNED IT! 

Razed it. Slayed it. Berated it. Might as well have lit the motherfucker on fire and set us on our poor mortal way because who the fuck could follow the lupine rapture made flesh and cast in stark silhouette to the relentless swell of a hornet’s howl?

Broken Goblet – The Fall of Ryesengard Rye Ale: Huh. Not bad. Surprisingly light for a rye. I’m gonna go ahead and call this lunch and then dinner…desert…cheese plate? Goddamn this shit is drinkable.


Exhorder rule. 

It’s just that simple.

Once seemingly long-gone pioneers of a dirty Nola barkparty groove, the band has revived itself over the last couple of years to the wonder of many who – quite frankly – didn’t know they existed and the fewer, fervent faithful who never could’ve imagined a time they’d hear “Slaughter in the Vatican” played live by the men (more or less) who first wrought that ugly thrashing classic nearly thirty years ago.

But here we are, man and HOOOO-BOY do these dudes destroy any and all worry that time and space might dim the half-drunk rage that inspired their seminal attacks, dishing out the groove and slash with the gleeful conviction of men damn near half their age.

So stay pissed, kids.

Atlas – Post 21 IPA: Sticky as shit but not too sweet. I could see this sneaking up on me. It does. Ryes are not food. I should eat but if I fear that if I metabolize I just might die.


I never listened to death metal when I was a kid.

I don’t really listen to death metal as an adult.

But I remember, vividly, going through the used tape section at Rockaway Records (which were WAY cheap and easy to mule into our apartment) circa 199…whenever, grabbing a copy of Cause of Death (which I’d read about in RIP), taking a long, hard look at the cover and thinking “Nah, dude…this shit is evil.”

I placed it back in the rack and never gave the record a listen until last week when I was girding my loins for this bender and HOLY FUCK! is that slab a beast to behold.

Sure, in the near thirty years since CoD’s release I’ve chewed on so much horrific and heavy it’s a wonder I could kiss my mother (L.A.M.F.) without puking and bursting into flames but for all the vile absurdity time has proffered, there’s something so engagingly alien and straight-up fucking damnable about that record’s sound.

And now I’m hearing the whole fucking thing live: note for note, grunt for growl, shred for shriek as ably if not better than ever.

And though I know, objectively, that by being in the presence of Obituary performing the last great tremor of my youth I am not assured a special place in hell, these old Catholic bones don’t quite believe it.

Stoudt’s – Gearshifter IPA: Fruity…(unintelligible)…makes me wish I’d done a better job of brushing my teeth. Did I brush my teeth this morning? No. But I did have tacos.


This was a bad night to see Baroness.

On any other occasion, the band could pack this place to the rafters with their toothy sludge cum AM tailgate euphoria but there were a whole lot of folks here to see Obituary and were not about to trifle with this “hipster bullshit” and that’s a shame because as little of a shit as I’ve given about Baroness over the years (no offense, guys…you just were never my thing) they’re still a band that matters to a fuckload of people and it’s always worth considering just what it is the people crave and besides there was SO MUCH BEER LEFT TO DRINK! and dismissing libations and potential for some truly revelatory shit like GINA FUCKIN’ GLEASON! is just straight-up boorish, dudes and one of the many, many reasons why you never got laid in high school.

But anyway…

Baroness were pretty righteous. Still not my thing but still quite goddamn exceptional at expanding themselves beyond their turgid beginnings and into a juggernaut of RAWK with enough melody to woo even the most prudish of hatchback queens, a touch of psych for the cool drunken uncles and plenty of heft left for the heshers to bang their fuckin’ heads off into the muddy Wishkah which is to say that they are (mas o menos) heavy metal for almost every body and inasmuch as I can see that being perceived as a sick burn to leather purists its pretty true to the heart of the movement.

And though I’d love to go on about the sociology of sound I’d much rather reiterate that all those dudes who absconded on pretense missed out on a good hour of free drunk, fine songs and GINA…FUCKING…GLEASON!

Adroit Theory – Evangelion Triple IPA: All bad ideas start with anime. That’s probably not true but let’s just pretend long enough to keep me from making the town with new “friends.”

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