On November 9th Kataklysm, Belphegor, and Winter Nights invaded Santos Party House for the New York stop of their North American tour. The event had initially been scheduled to take place at The Gramercy Theater, but was switched to its smaller sister venue a mere few days before the show. Despite this, and some minor delays in entry time, fans were obviously excited for one of the most cohesive death metal line ups to hit the city in quite some time.
First up was Winter Nights, a melodic death metal act from Brooklyn who have quickly gained a large local fan base. This is honestly not surprising given how flawlessly they combine genre mainstays like driving tremolo riffs with Martin Tune’s complex bass lines in tracks like “Encounters.” I’m not gonna lie, I giggled a bit when they introduced “Unmarked Grave” by dedicating it to “the people who wish they were dead” but the darker, more melodically dissonant number ended up being my favorite of their set. All in all, I very much look forward to watching this group further develop their sound and have no doubt we’ll be seeing more of them in the near future!
After Winter Nights’ short opening set, three crosses made of bone (song reference intended) were placed on the stage. Though they were very noticeably held together with packing tape, the shift in the atmosphere of the room was successful as Belphegor came on the stage through a cloud of incense smoke to chants of “Satan! Satan!” From the first moments of “Feast Upon the Dead” to the final notes of “Bleeding Salvation,” the frenzied blast beats were relentless, outweighed only by the demonic growls of front man, Helmuth. In fact, my only complaint stems from the fact that I wish the guitars were louder in the mix. After all one of the most notable things about Belphegor are the bands’ gorgeously piercing guitar harmonies in songs like “Bondage Goat Zombie.” Still, fans including myself were simply ecstatic to be part of New York’s ‘ritual’ having waited for what felt like an eternity for Belphegor to come back to the states after the cancelation of their last tour. That said, I have no doubt that energy will come across in the upcoming official video for “Gasmask Terror,” which was shot at the New York show.
Finally it was time for “northern hyperblast” giants Kataklysm to shake Santos Party House, and shake it they certainly did. Towards the beginning of their set , vocalist Maurizio Iacono referred to New York as “the melting pot of crazy” and I can safely say it is rare that I’ve seen a crowd go crazier. Fans jumped on stage and banged heads in unity with the Canadian death metallers to a cacophony of crushingly heavy riffs. In a sense, despite being in sync genre wise with a band like Belphegor, they provided something completely different for their fans. While their predecessors created an exotic fantasy for the audience, Kataklysm hit closer to home, truly relating to fans on a level playing field. Even new songs like “Thy Serpents Tongue” were introduced with the universal notion that everyone has “Loved someone who has betrayed them.” With that in mind, I am incredibly grateful for the venue change to Santos Party House. Despite any inconvenience it may have cause initially, it allowed audience members to organically communicate with the artists that inspire them in a way that’s rarely seen in an age of metal barriers and security guards.
Though I walked out of the venue in shambles from the pit, I left deeply satisfied. This show provided everything a gig should, from an otherworldly spectacle to a sense of community that made everyone feel at home and alike… and, of course, some awesome fucking death metal.