Flashback: Summer Slaughter Gets A Mixed Review

If you take a few minutes to do the math in your head, Summer Slaughter is kind of a strange concept. The daylong event on August 10th, 2013, which circused down the road across major metal loving cities – big and small – is the self proclaimed “Most Extreme Tour of the Year.” It’s an indoor event — think lots of sweaty people crowded — so really, there is quite a bit of room, just like any hyped concert, for problems. Here’s the weird deal: among certain dissatisfaction of goers, bands, and other events, the term “extreme” should be taken in both positive and negative lights.

In each city, viewers were pleasured to the sound and visual power of one or two local or “lesser known,” bands. Most of the time, these slots were determined by contest winning. As for Upstate Concert Hall, these bands came in the forms of Hollow is thy Heart and A Ruthless Scene

via Hollow is thy Heart

Hollow is thy Heart’s name is as electrifying as their performance: strange, raw, and mysterious. Their sound was characterized by a mix of thrash, death, and metalcore. Although they were given the short end of the stick as far as sound issues and slot, the four-piece took to the stage like it was their last day on Earth and certainly cared about their job. We can’t say the same for the next crew.

A Ruthless Scene is from New Jersey (insert a bunch of New Jersey jokes here) who specialize in one thing: The Breakdown. For all those who listen to real music, and would not know otherwise, a breakdown is a slang term given when a guitarist plays one note over and over again to a specific, simple pattern. During the set, the band generally displayed a lack of energy and desire to sound like every other Sumerian-core band out there.  To quote one person, “I wish I brought earplugs because A Ruthless Scene was ruthlessly annoying.” The next band, Thy Art is Murder, was more of the same.

Then, the story took an interesting twist. Quick-rise-to-fame “Aliencore” band, Rings of Saturn, demolished the room. Their signature speed picking was ever present, and their energy was no less sincere. “Kneel before my minions as they kneel before me,” the crowd screamed along with Ian Bearer, vocalist. After being accused of recording at half speed in the studio, then speeding everything up, Upstate Metal can confirm that everything done in the studio was done live. The only thing missing was abruptly departed bass player Sean Martinez, who took off just weeks ago. Still, this geared the crowd up for the next round.

Revocation and Aeon both are examples of unrelenting passion. If you have not been through a viewing of a documentary Why You Do This, it comes on high recommendation. The movie, which features the words of Gojira and Last Chance to Reason, outlines the many hardships an “up and coming” metal band goes through. Specifically, the movie points to how bands go through financial trouble on the road. With Revocation’s newest album just out, tour support is a must, and although life on the road can be hard, they still had fire in their performance. Equally, Aeon’s vocalist, Tommy Dahlstrom, was not present. Still, they persevered, leaving the crowd in awed respect.

One major source of controversy for this tour happened in the aftermath of Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe’s manslaughter charge (he was acquitted) were the rules of stage diving in many clubs. This required bands and fans alike to be aware that stage diving was forbidden. The Ocean, who are known for delivering a high energy, almost angry performance, took to Facebook when they remarked on the irony of calling “the most extreme tour of the year,” but stage diving was not allowed. Their performance was as loud and blatant: clear and to the point. Impressive, too, is their wide genre variety. Interestingly, their post warranted the attention of Summer Slaughter’s creator, Ash Avildsen. Although he was displeased with their remarks, the crowd was left quite impressed with their dynamic performance.

Impressive, though, hardly encapsulates the performance of Cattle Decapitation, who are musical veterans, but seem to have just began to gain more popularity, with their latest release, Monolith of Inhumanity. Decap’s music videos are controversial enough, but their performance was fast, angry, and honest. It would have been even better if Upstate Concert Hall had provided vocalist Travis Ryan with a microphone that worked for more than half the set.

What can be said about Norma Jean? The band was an underdog from the beginning. When the line up was first announced, the most extreme tour of the year was criticized for putting a band on the bill that played anything less than blast beats.

The rest of the show, of course, is history. Think of the stomping of feet as the entire crowd jumped to “Icarus Lives” by Periphery. There is some kind of force that comes over the crowd when certain bands play. It causes the crowd to sway and sing along, and Periphery has this angle. Or, how everyone’s mouth was wide open at the site of Animals’ as Leaders technical ability, or how the crowd asked “how could it all be?” To Dillenger’s onstage antics.

So, Upstate Metal talked about what would happen if we set up Summer Slaughter. Here’s what it looks like:

Here’s what would have happened if we set up Summer Slaughter:

1. Hollow is thy Heart

2. Revocation

3. Rings of Saturn

4. Animals as Leaders

5. Between the Buried and Me

6. Cattle Decapitation

7. Dillinger Escape Plan

8. Periphery

9. Decrepit Birth

10. Brutal Truth

11. Behemoth