Ventura County’s extreme metal scene is still alive and speed-picking, and Sunday night’s packed deathmetal match-up at Knights of Columbus Hall was manifest proof of that fact. Upward of 250 metal fans showed up to support a seven-band ear assault headlined by San Diego’s Cattle Decapitation and hosted by DJ D-FLOx from The Dungeon Awaits podcast.
Those who have difficulty grasping the musical merits of a genre that describes itself in such graphic and violent terms as deathmetal and its family of subgenres (brutal death, grindcore, gore-grind, etc.) — which seems obsessed with the morbid imagery that characterizes so many of its song titles and cover artwork — may ignore or quickly forget that the music itself, aggressive as it may be, without question displays some of the most impressive and astounding technical skill in music. Some without the stomach for its extremity, never discover that jazz drummers with decades of training, along with expert guitar players influenced primarily by classical music styles, are the people who lurk behind the whipping lengths of hair and black clothing as they viciously pound away on their instruments at light-speed, growling unintelligible lyrics in front of cult-like masses.
The talent in these these bands is, however, easily overlooked by skeptics, largely because the bands sometimes tune down to almost inaudible levels, nearly an octave below standard tuning, making a live performance sound somewhat closer to a tectonic plate disturbance underwater.
Sunday night’s deathfest featured a showcase of local metal in short, devastating bursts, and with a 25-minute cap on each band’s set, the night moved quickly from Ventura’s Scandinavian-style melodeath band Midnight Requiem who opened the show, all the way to the headliners, Cattle Decapitation, who stirred the crowd into a frenzy during the arresting performance, but who were abruptly cut off from finishing out their planned set list at 11:45 p.m. (much to the voiced protest of the audience) due to time constraints on the venue as well as encores by Port-Hueneme’s grindcore band Graveslut.
Sharing the stage with these were other brutal representatives of the active Oxnard metal scene, including Scourge, putting a slight thrash spin on blast-beat-heavy deathmetal, and Burning at the Stake, with a straightforward style reminiscent of pioneers of the genre such as Death and Morbid Angel. Inherit Disease, the Ventura- and Santa Barbara-based, highly technical death-grind act that is consonant with bands such as earlier Cryptopsy, took the horns next, followed by L.A.’s Fallen Figure, a high-energy, breakdown-heavy grindcore/metalcore outfit. Onstage, Fallen Figure frontman Sonik Garcia took the wavering crowd to task by demanding circle pits like a wedding DJ rallying participants for the electric slide.
Fallen Figure will return to Ventura on Aug. 30, for the 805 End of Summer Slaughter at Mai’s Café with Graveslut and touring bands Rose Funeral, Whisteria Cottage, the Anathema Portrait and more. Look out for more updates on the Ventura County metal scene as Graveslut and Mentacide both seek new vocalists, and Carnal Deity releases its first full-length 2012 on Megasound records.