If the history of death metal seems boring to some, there is no denying that the history of one of the first US bands of that genre, Death, can light up a fire in the eyes of those who love the genre and understand the journey. Fast forward to 2024 and Death To All, which is a very special tribute to the original Florida based Death band, is selling out back to back shows from their latest tour in Los Angeles. Cryptopsy supported them, and their Canadian friend’s Aggression was the opener. On Thursday, June 27th, and Friday, June 28th, these three bands really put on a memorable and fantastic show from start to finish. 

The greatest aspect of playing two back-to-back shows in most locations on the tour is that Death To All and Cryptopsy put together varied set lists each night, which included different eras of their musical history. For anyone lucky enough to witness both shows, they received an amazing earful of the band’s discography. Death To All even threw in some other random covers, such as Judas Priest’s “Painkiller,” to at least entertain themselves, if no one else. 

Starting off the first evening of this show in Los Angeles, a band called Aggression took the stage sometime before 8 pm. The unfortunate part of this is that there was zero advertising that this band was even part of the tour, and the show was scheduled to start at 8 pm, but it started well before that. For some reason, opening bands are often lost at sea in these situations because of early times, traffic, and work schedule conflicts. However, had I known there was an opener from Canada that I hadn’t seen before starting so early, I might have been there to see them. I always make a point to research the lineup and any info about set times that I can acquire. Aggression playing before the set show time was definitely not on many people’s radar. Word of mouth has it that they were great, and it’s unfortunate more people didn’t get to see them. Still, it was a sold-out show, so I’m sure the crowd was plentiful for them. 


Photo Credit: Chris Loomis

By the time Cryptopsy, also Canada based, started their set,  the Regent was packed. As far as this venue ranks in space and etiquette, it is one of the top mid-sized venues in Los Angeles. One noteworthy improvement that would benefit the experience greatly, specifically for sold out shows, is if there was a security guard keeping the stairs to the floor clear in the center at least so people could find their way to the front where there was space to move. People always crowd to the back of the floor in front of the stairs, and it creates a ridiculous traffic jam, much like the 101 on a Thursday morning in rush hour. Fortunately, there is also an accessible upstairs that is more breathable and comes with its own bar and its own set of bathrooms.

Back to the death metal, Cryptopsy put on a very hyped up set full of their unique brand of technical death mixed with brutal death metal. They celebrated the 30th anniversary of their first studio album, Blasphemy Made Flesh, which was some refreshing old-school brutality for the ears. Needless to say, “Open Face Surgery” in this context was a wildly positive experience. For Cryptopsy, this was known as their As Summer Burns tour, and what stands out about this band is their pleasant demeanor across the board. Combining that with their adaptation of death styles leads them to create some interesting, as well as inspiring, technical breakdowns within certain songs. 


Photo Credit: Chris Loomis

Moving on to the climax of the evening, Death to All shows the world that the good don’t die young, instead, they live forever in their masterful musical legacy. As all fans of the original Death band should know, original vocalist/guitars/ bass Chuck Shuldiner passed away in 2001 from complications of brain cancer. Since his death, quite a few of the past members of Death have formed tribute bands such as Gruesome and Death To All. This current line up of Death To All features Gene Hoglan (also of Dark Angel and Dethklok), Steve DiGiorgio (Testament, Control Denied, Sadus) on bass and Bobby Koelble on guitar. Also, Max Phelps (Cynic) is once again handling the vocal and second-guitar duties. This rendition is absolutely the second-best to the old-school Death lineup with Chuck. Max Phelps is definitely a great fit on all accounts. The joy of the concept behind Death is that they created an insane complex structure that mixed progressive, melodic, and technical death guitar riffs with rapid fire playing, double kick drums, and one hell of a vocal stamina. This band has been labeled as old-school classic death metal, perhaps because there is no one like them, and their style started the death and heavy metal movements of the future years. They are so much more, however, that perhaps it should also be coined as magical death metal. Possessed may have been the original in the death genre, but Death had a magic that today unites so many heavy metal genres who cite them as an influence. 
As opposed to Cryptopsy, who had some great hair whipping moments, Max and his crew remain as metal god statues concentrating on the complexities of unifying the music. Gene Hoglan still tears it up on drums, as speed demon as ever, and although he is a self taught drummer, he leaves no stone left unturned in his abilities. Starting the night off with “Leprosy,” ending with “Scream Bloody Gore,” and then continuing to play a three-song encore of “Zombie Ritual,” ‘Spiritual Healing,” and “Pull The Plug,” Death To All hit so many great moments of the Death discography. Certain songs they played, such as “Mutilation,” were so intriguing that they were impossible to refrain from headbanging to. Why would anyone at a death show want to refrain from some brutally charged head-banging? The bangover is still worth it, that’s a promise. Once again, it can’t be said enough that this is the second-best version of Death tunes that we can have now in a live setting, and no, a hologram of Chuck Shuldiner is not better. Let’s hope for another tour with these dudes next year, or perhaps headlining a Deathfest with all the best death subgenres included. Oh, and don’t forget the grindcore!

Death To All

All Photos taken by Chris Loomis