As one of the few bands to meaningfully push the envelope of just how “brutal” death metal can be, Stabbing make up for a complete absence of any melodic elements in their music with utterly extreme blasts, filthy vocals, and chromatic slam riffs. 2023’s debut full-length Extirpated Mortal Process saw the band fully realize their brand of pure brutal death metal depravity and solidified their reputation in the underground metal scene as a band to watch.

It’s no surprise that only 24 hours before this show, the band announced that they’ve been signed to Century Media, joining the ranks of the scene’s biggest contemporary death metal acts including Sanguisugabogg, Frozen Soul, and Vomit Forth. Rolling through New Jersey in a string of dates between Milwaukee Metalfest and Maryland Deathfest, Stabbing stops at Clifton, NJ for a night of chaos, playing to a crowd with absolutely zero regard for their own self-preservation in the pit. This short run feels special (and somewhat dangerous as the venue lacks any sort of security to keep the pit contained), watching a band on the precipice of blowing up. With support from local favorites Final Girls and fellow Jersey bands Ways to the Grave and World Eater, this was one of the best shows I’ve seen in 2024.

World Eater, a metal band seemingly born from the ashes of a Magic: The Gathering deck, kicks off the night strong. Frontman Ed Pacella is an absolute force – his death growl and endless parade around the stage draw you in, but the riffs keep you hooked. I struggle to grasp that they’re still relative newcomers to the scene – though some members have played in other groups in the past, this combination of members seems like the winning formula. World Eater blurs the line between familiar and modern with a sound that’s equal parts Bolt Thrower and a thousand screams into an endless void of cosmic horror. Ripping solos and more melodic riffing separate them sonically from the rest of the bands tonight, yet they fit right in with this lineup.

World Eater

Moving into more progressive territory is Ways to the Grave, the second band of the night. If you close your eyes, it’s easy to forget that some of these kids aren’t quite old enough to order a drink at the venue, playing at a level way beyond their years. Despite the longer songs, there’s meaningful commercial appeal in the way they infuse elements of popular death metal with prog-leaning tendencies. Watching this band refine bits of their performance and presentation over the past few months, their relentless gigging will smooth out any inconsistencies in time, and make them a band to watch. 

Ways to the Grave

If you need to fill a room in New Jersey, you book Final Girls – it’s a Wednesday night but the Final Girls fans still come out in full force and dress to the nines, Their brand of horror-infused death metal puts them on top of the local scene, and probably the next band in the area to start making serious moves. Unveiling a new setlist tonight and largely moving beyond the songs first introduced on their EP, Final Girls were in top form. Watching Sofia DeMasi behind the kit is always a highlight, and Casey Cruz continues to escalate their stage show to new extremes. Despite some gear hiccups, Ashleigh Hernandez and Sofia Albanese kept the show moving with grace.

Final Girls

And finally, Stabbing took the stage. It’s a lot like watching a bomb go off in front of you. Their 40-minute set was completely unrelenting – no reprieve from the brutal riffs and endless gutturals; there are no slow (or even mid-paced) songs in their catalog to give your body a break from the pit that never closes. At the center of everything is vocalist Bridget Lynch and guitarist Marvin Ruiz. Lynch is simply one of the most consistent brutal death metal vocalists I’ve ever witnessed, never missing a beat, never faltering or wavering in her delivery. Despite being a one-guitar band, Ruiz absolutely flooded the roof with his precise riffing and grooves. The rhythm section was no less impressive, perfectly in time and locked in like a well-oiled machine. Stabbing is easily one of the best live bands on the circuit right now and for a good reason. The venue flooded their set with red light – very appropriate – but every member of the band was mesmerizing to watch. We might not be ready for whatever Stabbing decides to do next – and there’s nowhere for them to go but up.