A substantial amount of buzz was circling Decibel Magazine’s Metal & Beer festival. Whether it was the craft beer, magazine, or bands, we had to attend the third annual event. Metal Insider’s Zenae Zukowski and Jeff Podoshen teamed up to explore the two-day festivities and here are our thoughts.
The third annual Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer festival was held at the Fillmore in Philadelphia, PA on April 13th and 14th, 2019. This was my first time at this venue, and I was taken aback by its cleanliness as the size of the place looked like you could fit two Irving Plazas. It wasn’t clear to me if food was going to be made available. Therefore, I stopped at the Barcarde next door to fill up on some grub before locking myself in for seven hours surrounded by delicious ales and heavy tunes. I officially arrived at the venue just when the doors opened at 4 PM. However, I was surprised by the massive line. At that point, I knew neither Jeff nor myself would make it on time to photograph Wake. With moments such as this, it’s always best to think with the glass half full. Speaking of glasses, it was the perfect moment to utilize the time to take out the small cup and taste some craft beer. – Zenae Zukowski
Calgary’s Wake had the challenge of opening this massive two-day metal fest, and they SO rose to the problem. There was a substantial number of fans already in the building and up against the rail to make sure they caught this quintet.
They might not have a lot of songs in their catalog, but what they do have is quite good. Their short, traditional grindcore sound got the crowd moving quickly and made a bold statement. This is grindcore done well, and the band was super tight. Really looking to check this band out again. – Jeff Podoshen
I was pretty stoked to see this band because it seems that all I’ve been hearing and reading about these days in the subterranean Philadelphia metal world is “you gotta check out Tomb Mold!”.. “did you hear Tomb Mold yet?”… “dude… Tomb Mold.” Ok. Got it. Now I understand what the hype is about.
First, let me say – the drummer is also the lead vocalist. Just watching Max Klebanoff, pull off this double duty is the reason alone to check this band out – yet – there is so much more than that! Tomb Mold is death metal with a modern sound, pleasing to both aging scenesters like myself while also drawing in some of the newer, younger fans. Massive riffing and brilliant songcraft help make these Canadians stand out.
Tomb Mold has a new record, Planetary Clairvoyance, coming out this summer on 20 Buck Spin. – Jeff Podoshen
As a New Yorker, who traveled far and wide to the land of Philadelphia, I had to see Brooklyn’s Tombs. I refrained from shouting, “hey I traveled all the way from NY just to see you New Yorkers!” Was it the beer talking or my high running from the night before seeing Cloak’s incredible set at the preshow? Who knows. I was feeling goofy and in the mood for some “Varg Vegan Meatballs,” or was it the “Frost Fries,” “Gorgoroth’s Grilled Cheese,” or the Dimmu Veggie Burger” as I just discovered there was a food menu.
Anyway, Tombs were not there to please anyone as their abrasive sound took over the room. The band has always held a unique style, which is a mix between black to post-metal but they seem to have gone through a lineup change since it looked like they went from a quintet to a quartet. Despite the apparent shuffle in the group, they continued to support their latest effort 2017’s The Grand Annihilation as they went into songs such as “November Wolves.” – Zenae Zukowski
Uada had a ton of fans in attendance. There is no doubt this band has seen their reputation rise with each new recording; each new tour. There was a lot of excitement for this band with Uadashirts found everywhere both inside and outside the venue. Uada did not disappoint. Clad in all black, and playing on a near pitch black stage, the band delivered their signature Northwestern style atmospheric black metal. Tons of tremolo meshed with a graven stage presence; the packed venue was suddenly transformed from inner-city Philadelphia to the cold, dark woods of Oregon. – Jeff Podoshen
I’m obsessed with incense and obviously, metal, and combining the two during Uada’s set added a lot more value in my book. These Portland, Oregon melodic black metallers crushed it, and they were the perfect “midway” mark of the night. Songs included: “Natus Eclipsim,” “Snakes & Vultures,” “Cult of a Dying Sun,” “Devoid of Light,” “Black Autumn,” and “White Spring.” – Zenae Zukowski
Was Exhorder pumped to be playing Decibel? Hell’s yes! From the moment they got off the plane, these classic thrashers were amped up and ready to tear the Fillmore to shreds. They didn’t disappoint. Never having seen Exhorder before, I wasn’t sure what to expect but was I taken aback not only by their energy but by their technical prowess and overall sound.
Heavy emphasis on their classic Slaughter in the Vatican record put lots of smiles on many faces. And they certainly won the Philly fans over – even if they came into town with New Orleans Saints logos blazing! – Jeff Podoshen
Exhorder blew me away, and it was also my first time seeing them live. Guitarist Marzi Montazeri and vocalist Kyle Thomas are probably the two members that surprised me the most out of the entire festival. However, Deceased vocalist Kingsley Fowley is a close second from night two. Marzi and Kyle both made their love for metal known as well as their passion for the revived Exhorder. Kyle also revealed to the crowd that the band is planning on releasing a new album, which would mark their first full-length effort since 1992’s The Law. And I am looking forward to hearing it. – Zenae Zukowski
Obituary playing their legendary second record, Cause of Death, in its entirety? Yes, please! How was it you might ask? Well, exactly how you think it was. Obituary is one of those incredibly consistent bands. You know what you’re going to get and what you always get is a top shelf, truly professional performance. They played Cause of Death flawlessly – a significant achievement given that the audience clearly knew every single note played by every single instrument. This is part of the beauty of these Decibel festivals – the opportunity to hear some of these classic records, that, for many in attendance (including myself) was such a key part of youth.
The massive circle pit in the cavernous Fillmore seemed to rival the Pacific trash vortex in both size and intensity. From the first riff to the last, the crowd kept going, without fail.
And can I ask… does John Tardy’s voice ever age? I mean, this guy sounds exactly like he did back in 1990!
If Obituary is reading this… now I’d love to see you come back to Philly next year and play The End Complete. – Jeff Podoshen
Baroness are rock stars. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. In fact, I mean that in a very positive way. Why? Because they perform like seasoned musicians, who command both the stage and the crowd, with emphasis on both the visual and the musical, the emotional and the technical. This band is just so amazing to watch, and their absolute joy of performing is so incredibly contagious. Relative newcomer Gina Gleason rounds out Baroness so perfectly and watching the interplay between Gina, and lead vocalist/guitarist John Baizley is an absolutely divine experience. Witnessing this band, in its current form is like watching history. Someday I’ll tell my children, “You know your Daddy saw Baroness back in 2019 – right up against the stage… and, yes, it was even more special than it sounds.”
Baroness played 15 songs and included two coming off their upcoming record, Gold & Grey. These were “Borderlines” and “Seasons,” and are the first songs to feature Gina on lead guitar. Let me tell you; they are quite good. The band also played favorites like “Shock Me,” “Morningstar,” and “Fugue” amongst a packed set.
Even though they were one of the “less heavy” acts on the packed bill, there is no doubt that those in the crowds with Celtic Frost and Obituary t-shirts still walked away more than impressed. – Jeff Podoshen
Night one ended on a bloated note as many knew more beer was needed for day two to help cure the inevitable hangover from the delicious beer tasting. – Zenae Zukowski
Photos by Zenae Zukowski & Jeff Podoshen