The annual and always great Decibel Magazine tour traveled across North America these past few weeks and brought to many cities the mighty Abbath, High on Fire, Skeletonwitch featuring their new singer Adam Clemans, and Sweden’s Tribulation. The mix of genres has always been a staple on every Decibel tour, reaching for a larger audience and making some curious about a certain style become fans of a band they wouldn’t listen to. That was the case Metal Insider contributor Alix Vallecillo witnessed during their show at The Regent Theater in Los Angeles, CA.
The Decibel Magazine tour has been a tradition for many North American metal heads for the past few years and those who have attended religiously to every edition of it, expect eagerly their newest announcement for the upcoming year. Late last year, we found out the bill was going to consist by Sweden psychedelic death/thrash Tribulation, Ohio thrash demons Skeletonwitch, stoner giants High on Fire and the one and only Abbath.
The show started immediately with Tribulation, taking the stage in the mystical way the always do with “Strange Gateways Beckon” and that’s all was needed to get the crowd excited for their comeback to American soil. Hidden behind a dark stage, the Swedes put up an intense show felt by everyone inside The Regent Theater in downtown Los Angeles and probably those still outside in line to get into the venue.
As a long time fan of Tribulation and a frequent attendant of their live shows in the states, I still enjoy thoroughly their performances as that’s one of the most important aspects of the band but it would add a different spice if the set list was shuffled around a little bit more. A very pesky observation from someone who have seen every single tour they’ve done in the US, but definitely not a definitive factor for a more casual fan.
After the short but sweet set played by the Swedes, it was Ohio’s Skeletonwitch turn to torn the place apart and that’s all they know to do. One of the most important things about this tour for the death/thrash dealers, was the debut of their new frontman Adam Clemans replacing their long-time singer Chance Garnette, and the anticipation of his performance was big. The general consensus by those who checked out their set list heavily padded by tracks of their 2013 album Serpents Unleashed, was positive for the most part. Many pointed out their grief over Chance’s departure but no negative feedback was given about Clemans. As every change in life and metal, it will take time to assimilate but the road is looking bright for the Wolvhammer frontman.
The smell of weed started creeping up inside the venue and people were looking for their comfortable spot to receive the Stoner legends High on Fire. If you haven’t seen High on Fire or are even familiar with their music, I highly recommend you catch them next time they hit your town because their set is not mellow or chill; it’s fast, aggressive, intense yet it still keeps that Stoner vibe that many were anxious to experience. Some fans were only familiar with Matt Pike’s other stoner band Sleep and weren’t certain about what to expect about High on Fire, but they definitely got out of the venue with a new band in their wishlist.
It was time for the final act, and the reason most of the attendees were there excited since the tour was announced. Abbath is an iconic character in the metal scene not just by being the internet meme everyone surely knows about but the contrast created with his former band Immortal between heavy, catchy black metal and light-hearted presence on stage. The promotion for Abbath’s self-titled album has been immense and the fans were very familiar with the new tracks from the record and engaged in the show as if they knew them all for years. The show was proper for a headliner set with a good hour and a half performance and Abbath took a safe route by mixing songs from his latest solo record and classic Immortal tracks to tickle the nostalgia of his old school fans. From “In My Kingdom Cold,” “Solarfall,” or “All Shall Fall” the audience indulged on what they could get as a Immortal tribute performed by its frontman and new recruits on the band.
Abbath is still one of the few remaining showman in metal, with his immense interaction with the audience, expressive performance and overall fun act, he’ll keep a special place in everyone who gets to see his shows. That’s what he’s been known for and, even after so many years as an active musician, he hasn’t lost his charm to bring the true passion of heavy metal with the aggressive twist of black metal.