July 23-24

The Canopy Club, Urbana, IL

By Dr. Abner Mality

That time of year again, time to head down south and experience the relentless sonic battering that is Central Illinois Metalfest. Last year I got my toe wet in the CIM pool, this year I knew what to expect. So what should happen but I take a wrong turn and wind up screaming into town 2 hours later than planned. Well, I was able to orient myself and managed to pull into the Canopy Club literally ten minutes before Chicago's Cardiac Arrest took the stage.

A couple of things were different this year. One, I didn't have the beauteous presence of Mistress Hydra by my side. Two, this year it was hotter than Satan's armpit out. The Midwest was suffering through a blast of near 100 degree temperatures the weekend of the fest and all of us bangers sweated like dogs the whole weekend. I was even forced to abandon my infamous bloody lab coat due to the scorching heat! I'm sure that came as a relief to the rest of the festival-goers, though, as I have not washed the beloved garment in probably about 12 years or so. The Canopy Club had some air conditioning but with the constant opening and closing of doors, its effect was negligible.

I arrived in the midst of Saprogenic's set. Brutal, ultra-technical death metal with gurgling vocals...this is CIM's stock in trade. Shame that Saprogenic showed all the stage presence and energy of guys getting off a double shift at Chrysler. Try looking up from your guitar frets once in a while, will ya?

Striking immediately thereafter were Cardiac Arrest, coming off the "Campaign For Death Metal Purity" tour and riding high on the success of their new disc "Haven for the Insane". Now road-tested warriors, these guys DO know how to put on a show, with plenty of headbanging and aggression to accompany their crushing oldschool death metal. Adam Scott makes for a good frontman with his goofy faces, grinding growls and sense of humor, while Tom Knizner and Dave Holland both do plenty of thrashing and banging. Even drummer Grindhead leaned out from his drumkit to yell at the crowd. The crowd pleasing set included fun stuff like "In Insanity's Grip", "Carnage Your Fate", "Embrace The Aftermath" and "Affliction of the Beast" NEVER miss these guys when they come to your town and keep an eye out for my interview with Adam and Grindhead!

Thereafter followed several enjoyable extreme bands such as the one-man holocaust unit BLOODSOAKED trying valiantly to entertain, LECHEROUS NOCTURNE with their razor sharp blitzkrieg, and all the way from Switzerland, CARNAL DECAY. The latter band dealt in typical hyperfast "slamming" death but was notable for the fact that their guitarist seemed to be a very attractive and happy young lady who would have looked more at home at a Counting Crows show. Goes to show ya, don't judge books by their cover. Speaking of which, this year saw several fetching females wandering the grounds. I took notice of three Japanese cuties there to catch Japan's Infernal Revulsion...either that, or Gallhammer decided to catch CIM.

Next band that really caught my interest was Italy's Septycal Gorge. What amazed me about this guttural "slam" band was the absolute horror coming from the lead singer's mouth. An innoccuous, clean cut looking guy, he unleashed total HELL from his vocal chords with undoubtedly the most infernal deep burping noises I have heard from the human animal. This was gutturality carried to absurd heights. I'm usually not a big fan of super-brutal vocals, but with this dude, you just had to be blown away. I couldn't tell you the name of one track they played, though. I also noticed one of their guitarists was with Blasphemer, who were the big hit in 2009.

As night wore on, the big boys started to hit the stage. Misery Index blew the fuckin' roof off the joint. Hard to believe

just three men can create such a sonic hurricane, but this band was a force of nature. A force not only of destruction, but precision as well, with every tune delivered with perfection. The drummer in particular was breath-taking to watch. This is death metal the way I like it...utterly ripping but with an eye towards songcraft and delivered with merciless efficiency. Do NOT pass up a chance to see Misery Index in action...look, also, for Joe Who's interview with Jason Netherton right here at WC.

Origin delivered a jaw-dropping example of ultra-technical deathly mayhem. Faster than tachyon particules being shot through an atom smasher, listening to these guys was an exhausting, humbling experience. Don't know if I've ever seen a bass played the way that Mike Flores does...spider-fingered doesn't do him justice. Add in a three-pronged death growl attack and Origin is all the human mind/body interface can handle...and more. I would think we'd be due to get a new one from these guys soon.

Incantation had a special treat for us to top off the first night. The redoubtable John McEntee and his troops played their entire "Diabolical Conquest" album for the faithful that stayed the course. This is the gnarly, doom-filled death that I like the near-perfect combination of satanic blasting and sludgy trudge, garnished with McEntee's own bowel-crumbling growls. Bands with baseball caps and combat fatigues may be more flavor of the moment with "slamming" death metal, but I'll take Incantation anyday. And it doesn't hurt that John is absolutely one of the nicest guys in the scene.

I crashed at Motel 6, got a tasty breakfast at the nearby Cracker Barrel and headed downtown in the blazing heat of another scorching day. One thing's for sure, there are more people present at CIM this year than last. Even the early afternoon acts drew a decent crowd, whereas last year they greeted a mostly empty room. First act I saw was Visceral Throne, who looked barely old enough to drive. I was expecting scene kids playing deathcore, but these youngsters were really good, playing a pretty technical if still brutal death metal that included some melodic guitar solos. It might be interesting to see them evolve.

Maybe the most refreshing band of the entire Fest played Saturday afternoon...a four man squad known as The Horde. A great relief from all the gurgling and slamming, these dudes played a very barbaric form of metal sounding a lot like a heavier, faster High On Fire mixed with the epicness of Manilla Road! Good shit! Even bass problems that plagued their set could disguise the power of their material and I was so impressed I bought their "From Empire To Ashes" disc right on the spot from their frontman, Duncan.

Rest of the afternoon brought more destruction from the likes of Mexico's Rotteness, Atrocious Abnormality and more. The heat was very taxing and I was mighty thankful that free water was provided for all fest-goers. Think you'd get that at Ozzfest or Rockstar Mayhem? Hah!

Many decades after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at American hands, Japan finally had its revenge at CIM 2010. They struck a devastating blow with their incredibly brutal band INFERNAL REVULSION. I shit you not, this band had EVERYBODY moshing and slamming like fiends, including security! Just pure unadulterated BRUTALITY, with some of the most bone-crushing breakdowns I have ever experienced. Their drummer was the craziest motherfucker I've seen at these events. A dreadlocked oriental dynamo, he spent most of the set standing up, slamming himself in the head with drumsticks, screaming at the top of his lungs and basically doing a death metal version of Kodo drumming. What a showman and what a band! They delivered a set so devastating that even legendary grinders Phobia had a hard time following up.

But that's the card Phobia was dealt, so the veterans hit the stage and did what they did best...grind. The more punkish nature of their material was again a nice change from the prevailing CIM style, but as far as speed and aggression goes, these dudes don't really take a backseat to anybody. It's just that I don't think ANYBODY could have followed Infernal Revulsion wih a better set. After Phobia, the one man death squad Putrid Pile, aka Shaun Lacanne, struck again and impressed the hell out of everybody not only with his non-stop brutality, amazing guitar skill and squealing vocals, but his amiable personality. He's a living rebuttal to those who say one-man death metal is hopeless (admittedly, much of it is).

Apparently tonight was the reunion show of Ohio's Regurgitation. I don't think anybody was too worked up about it. I know I wasn't...more typical ultra-brutal stuff, very cliched, and mixed with some extremely foul and misogynistic commentary from the front man. Ho-hum...

Althought I wa starting to run out of gas, a little dose of Deceased did wonders to pep everybody up. King Fowley is the Uncle Buck of the underground death metal scene and he was running around backslapping and jabbering with people the whole weekend. He brings the same manic energy to the stage, staggering around bug-eyed and with hands flying. He actually grabbed front-row people by the hair and forced them to headbang! It sure helps that King is now strictly a frontman instead of being locked behind the drumkit as he was before. It makes for a better show. And Deceased poured it on with their more melodic, classically based death metal, touching on all phases of their career, even going back to their very first demo. The guitar work was outstanding as always and Deceased is as TRUE as the underground gets.

I finally did run out of gas after their set. I hung in long enough to see Malevolent Creation come out like a Mexican assassination squad and blow people away with pure aggression. I've been wishy washy about MC, but their new record "Invidious Dominion" slays and they take no prisoners live. Any more, I cannot say...after a few songs, I departed back to the hotel, where I collpased in bed as the air conditioner blessedly cranked along.

And that was Central Illinois Metalfest 2010. I think after Maryland, this is the premier event of its kind. This year was better attended than before I hear the organizers have BIG plans for next year. I plan on being there. How about you?