On Monday October 10, the Curse of the Dead Tour stopped through San Diego’s Brick By Brick. Featuring Skeletonwitch, Iron Reagan, Oathbreaker, and Gatecreeper, the lineup was dynamically diverse. Kicking off the early week festivities was Arizona death metal outfit Gatecreeper. Possessing an incredible knack for slowed down intensity a la Morgoth, the openers showcased mean riffing, debilitating breakdowns, and cave-crushing gutturals. Fresh off the release of their debut album “Sonoran Depravation,” Gatecreeper’s sound produces the grit and vigor worthy of being on your radar.
After the high octane set from Gatecreeper it was profound to see Oathbreaker hush the packed Brick with ambient blue lighting and soothing, isolated vocals only to explode into blast beats and post-metal chord work. In fact, the bulk of their stage presence was split between intense headbanging and dead stillness. Oathbreaker did a phenomenal job finding lengths of time to allow the clean vocals and smooth chords breathe over the PA as well as knowing when to turn up the heat and unleash their full potential of noise. Needless to say, the band was a dazzling surprise that I can only hope continues to gain success.
Iron fucking Reagan though. Boasting two scorching albums in their catalog, the crossover quintet has quickly made a name for itself in aggressive music. Opening with “Pay Check,” followed by “Obsolete Man,” Iron Reagan promptly got the floor moving and heads thrashing. Frontman Tony Foresta bellowed and bounced throughout the set while the arsenal of hair that was the string section throttled backing vocals amongst drummer Ryan Parrish’s vibrant fills and chokes. As if the set hadn’t already managed to excite concertgoers, Iron Reagan even incorporated a Cannibal Corpse demo cover of “A Skull Full of Maggots.” The band ultimately closed out their whirlwind performance with “Eyeball Gore.”
Midwesterners Skeletonwitch later went on and opened their headlining set with “Beneath Dead Leaves” and “Crushed Beyond Dust.” It’s clear that the band has accomplished quite a bit since this year’s Decibel Magazine Tour as evidenced by the recent release of “The Apothic Gloom,” as well as a solo Canadian headlining tour. It seems as though Skeletonwitch has finally eased into their new identity as evidenced by fresh banners and drum covers and a tighter stage presence. Singer Adam Clemans has considerably improved as a Skeletonwitch frontman since his first tour with the band and drummer Dustin Boltjes’ booming percussion kept their sound lively. Bassist Evan Linger nailed his walking bass lines but to my surprise wasn’t wearing an Aura Noir shirt. Dual guitarists Scott Hedrick and Nate Garnett traded solos and licks like acrobats intricately juggling chainsaws.
The changing of the guard may have been controversial for Skeletonwitch but it’s clear they haven’t paid heed to naysayers and have soldiered forth into something that should be commended. Each band on the bill brought their own style to the table which culminated into a killer evening of Monday night metal jams.
*Photos courtesy of Karila Shannis*