In today’s modern society we love all kinds of music.  We especially love to see that music performed live by the creators themselves.  Some individuals like to end their concert-going experiences with just the auditory stimulation and there are others that wish to have a much more engaging and personal experience.  I am firmly in the latter school of thought.  It has been a while since I’ve had that kind of experience, but if there is any show that could bring me that excitement and jovial wonder, then it would have to be the freshly started The Decibel Magazine Tour with Behemoth, Watain, The Devil’s Blood, and In Solitude.  I was lucky enough to be a part of the inaugural show at the almighty Alrosa Villa here in Columbus, Ohio.  After hearing about the controversy of conflicting religious opinions from the owners of The Brewmaster’s Gate which caused the show to relocate, I knew this would be an event I would never want to miss.

Before last night I was only familiar with both openers In Solitude and The Devil’s Blood by name alone.  I had been hearing good things about both of their recorded and live material, so I went in completely blind to their types of music.  Sometimes it is fun to see what you will get when it comes to things like this.  As it was reported that Watain would miss their first five shows, I will admit that my enthusiasm had slightly waned.  I figured that their brand of Anti-Cosmic Satanist black metal would add to the overall intensity of the show (which I’m sure it will in their future appearances), but their absence was not given a second-thought by me as the show started.

Once the venue had become more crowded, I had already staked my claim to just left of the center stage, firmly implanting my steel-toed boots into the ground, becoming an immovable object.  Just before the crew was finished setting the stage they had attached burning incense to the monitors on both edges of the stage, wanting to create a ceremonial aura.  Everyone knew the show was about to begin once the lights dimmed with In Solitude taking the stage, and I could already begin to feel the energy building within our concrete confines.

Fellow-writer Facundo had brought up an interesting observation in his recent Accept review that there doesn’t seem to be any bands that are just good ol’ fashioned “metal” these days.  In Solitude is one of these bands that just gets up and plays good ol’ fashioned “metal”.  I methodically watched each member of the band play their part with great enthusiasm, particularly drummer Uno Bruniusson.  I don’t think the smile ever left his face as he repeatedly assaulted his kit, and that kind of excitement is incredibly infectious.  This is a sound that one would not expect to be on the same bill as Behemoth and Watain, but In Solitude were very well rehearsed and tight.  The only issue I had was with the vocals.  They were pretty low in the mix and easily drowned out.  Despite that little mishap they definitely made a fan out of me.

Next up would be The Devil’s Blood who showed up without their shirts and covered in blood (big surprise, I know).  Once the vocalist slowly sauntered out of the back with a Goat skull that was connected to her almost-cloak-like attire, the band had erupted into a 1970s-throwback style of what I can only characterize as Black Sabbath meets AC/DC, plus some classic rockin’ groove thrown in for good measure.  The Devil’s Blood took the Iron Maiden approach with having three guitarists, constantly switching off between lead and rhythm, as well as being able to conjure up quite an enjoyable atmosphere when the slower parts of the music were introduced.  My only complaint about the set is the same as with In Solitude‘s performance; the vocals were too damn low in the mix.  I’m not quite sure what the sound engineer was doing last night since he is normally very good, but something just wasn’t clicking when it came to the vocals.  Other than that, I thought the band put on a rocking and spirited performance.  This is definitely a band for those that love that classic heavy/doom metal sound.

The time was drawing near as we watched the techs for Behemoth scatter around quickly, making sure that everything was going to work without a hitch.  One thing that I noticed during the sound check was Orion’s bass.  It looked beat up and worn.  Combine those two characteristics to the destructive sound his bass had and it really added an extra element of intensity for me.  I love seeing little imperfections like that, even with a band as competent and decimating as Behemoth.  It also seems that the band brought their own sound engineer to take over, so once I heard him speaking in Polish I knew the vocals would no longer be an issue.

Finally.  Zero hour approaches.  Behemoth emerges from the back with their instruments attached to them like secondary appendages, dressed in tattered rags that adorn their bodies, make-up that makes their flesh look as if it is peeling.  Once the band started off with ‘Ov Fire and the Void’, you could tell there was something different about the way they carried themselves.  This was their first show back in North America in over two years and they were going to make sure they made up for every waking second they hadn’t been here.

Equipped with wireless connections to their amps, we watched as Seth, Nergal, and Orion never stood in the same spot for more than thirty seconds at a time.  Those three would take turns doing vocals and join in for cataclysmic choruses, helping to create a catastrophic atmosphere.  Inferno’s drum kit had art on it that made them look as if they were made out of concrete and had his name adorned in the Behemoth font, letting you know just who is destroying those toms.  The band primarily played tracks from their last three albums, “Demigod“, “The Apostasy“, and “Evangelion“, but they threw in a couple older tracks like ’23 (The Youth Manifesto)’, ‘Moonspell Rites’, ‘Decade Ov Therion’, and some others.

Their entire set was a thing that only dreams could be made of, but my absolute favorite song of the night had to be ‘Chant For Eschaton 2000’, which is my personal favorite Behemoth track.  The way the venue erupted with excitement and moshpit violence together was incredible.  I was being pushed against the stage so hard that I thought I was going to be severed at the waist, but I didn’t care.  With reckless abandon I headbanged and shouted the choruses with the rest of the fans for the full hour or so the band was on stage.  As the ending notes to ‘Lucifer’ loudly rang out, all I could do was stand there with my eyes closed, hair draped over my face and just breathe in the cool air.  It was easily one of the tightest performances I had ever witnessed, and seeing how the band has renewed vigor to lay waste to whatever stage they take then you will not be disappointed, even if you do prefer their older and more straight-forward black metal material.

I had been hearing from quite a few people how because of Watain not showing up it wasn’t worth it to go.  If you are on the fence and are a part of those few dates they will miss, I implore you to not be stubborn and go see Behemoth, The Devil’s Blood, and In Solitude.  Even when Watain does join the line-up, go to this show.  This is one of the purest and most diverse tours we have gotten in North America in the past few years.  With this being the second leg of their so-called “comeback” tours, this is something you will not want to miss.  Not only will you be hearing music done by musicians that excel at their craft, but you will no doubt succumb to the energy from every single living being that is in the building.

Note: Here is an album of pictures that were taken last night by Gregg Bender.

-Jon Burkan