One of the most exciting annual tours we have in the states is the Decibel Magazine tour. Each year they do a fantastic job at pairing some of the best metal acts from the domestic and international scene, and this year was no different. The tour consisting of thrash giants Kreator, death metal legends Obituary, Ohio’s Midnight and Horrendous, stopped in Santa Ana, CA and we caught the entire event.
When the tour was announced a few months back, I got really excited to see such a diverse lineup that still meshes in a logical sense. Thrash and death metal are almost like brothers in the genre, and both have developed influences from other styles.
The show started with Horrendous, a death metal band from Philadelphia and Washington D.C., which established itself in the scene after releasing two albums, Anareta and Ecdysis. To describe the band, just imagine throwing some of the most influential death metal bands from Europe like Dismember, Asphyx and Entombed into a blender and spicing it up with Chuck Schuldiner’s musicality. The combination works great on record and live as proven by the quartet playing on stage.
Their incredible live performance have to be attributed to the extraordinary chemistry between the four young guys in the band. It was palpable this wasn’t just a band playing for the sake of it but just a group of friends having fun and enjoying playing death metal.
Up next was one of my main draws to the show: Ohio’s black thrash maniacs Midnight. While I have crossed path with them in the past, I hadn’t seen the trio live. Many of my friends emphasized how good and photogenic they were on stage and that built up an astronomical anticipation for their performance.
To put it in the most simple of words, this band is fucking incredible. Fast, aggressive, take-no-prisoner attitude and solid musicianship paired impeccably with their highly active show. It was so hard to keep up with their pace unless you were laying it down in the most pit, cause this band goes at a 1000 miles an hour. The crowd’s response paralleled with my conclusion of the band as the kings of this tour. Sure, I had more bands to see but once I saw singer Athenar smash a tribute bass he received from a fan, I knew there was nothing else left to catch.
After the excitement and impression left by Midnight, it was time to take things a few steps back and enjoy some traditional death metal at its best. Obituary recently released their self-titled album a few weeks back and it’s been praised left and right by fans and critics.
If you’ve seen the Florida legends before, you know there’s nothing unexpected happening. All you’ll get is classic headbanging, ground-stomping riffs and uncompromised death metal, and that’s perfectly fine for bands like Obituary, because that’s the only reason you go see them. The only thing you’ll see aside from one of the most important American bands in the genre, are obscene amounts of hair. Everywhere. The pictures show it all.
Everyone seemed tired and happy at this point of the night. Could have been the alcohol, the infusion of metal we’ve had or both. Whichever was, there was still one band to catch and the main attraction of the event: the Teutonic masters of Kreator.
I’ve seen them a few times in the past and this was the first time i got to shoot them. Needless to say, it was a different experience in a positive way. Everyone knows and consciously decided to put all their attention towards singer Mille Petrozza because, well, he’s the frontman. In all fairness, Petrozza has his hands full while onstage, playing guitar and singing so he got the crowd excited. But this was the first time I paid attention to the energy of his bandmates, and they are a force to be reckoned with. Guitarist Sami Sirniö and bassist Christian Giesler really gave their all onstage and they did it in a very entertaining way. Having the liberty their singer lacks, they made sure everyone is having a good time and pump the crowd up if they get a bit tired.
The set was great and full of classics that continue resonating inside the Observatory in Santa Ana up to this day. Not just from Kreator itself, but the entire lineup. It’s fairly common for the Decibel Magazine tour to sell out here in SoCal but this time was very well deserved. Each and every band was on par with the quality of the tour in the pass and I’ll probably deem it as one of the best ones from the past few years. Yes, that includes Abbath last year.