A recent conversation with a friend resolved with an agreement that metal in L.A. is alive and kicking; a realization landed upon mostly after discussing the insanity we each witnessed at separate shows on the same night. The show my friend went to at 1720 was a stacked tech death bill featuring Obscura, Beyond Creation, Archspire, and more while I attended the rebirth of Relapse Records’ legendary Contamination Tour with Dying Fetus, Incantation, Gatecreeper, and Genocide Pact over at the Regent. Comparing the two lineups is a challenge for any balanced/general death metal fan and it made me fear one of the two events would suffer from poor attendance. Surprisingly, the distinction between the subgenres worked in each event’s favor and packed both venues with diehards losing their minds and paying respect to some of their favorite bands.
Opening the night over at the Regent was one of the most recent groups to sign to Relapse: Genocide Pact. Their last performance in LA was a headlining set at Union back in 2016 that flew under the radar of most. With major label support the band’s reputation has grown quickly and attracted a level of buzz most opening acts lack. Their performance was proof they’re a solid reason not to be late.
It’s impossible to avoid the hype around Gatecreeper at this point. I can’t remember a show I’ve been to over the past year where I didn’t see at least one person in the crowd wearing one of their shirts. Their crossover appeal brings the hardcore crowd out to metal shows and vice versa; always creating an interesting mix of fans and maintaining a sense of danger and unpredictability in the pit. Easily one of the most consistent and hardworking bands in metal at the moment; Gatecreeper have yet to disappoint.
Incantation followed and brought the timeline of the Contamination brand full circle. It feels like the monumental NYDM band has been on the road constantly for the past five years or so as there’s always an upcoming/announced date in LA. A lot of bands burn out with that kind of schedule but each time I’ve seen Incantation, the performance seems even more heated; this time being the best by far. Technical difficulties posed no issue to the blistering set they delivered.
There’s an intensity exuded by rabid fans in lawless DIY spots that’s immediately quashed by security guards, pat-downs, and the lack of BYOB in larger venues. We all long to revisit the time we saw ______ play at “that one spot.” The names of these places blur as quickly as they get shut down but the memories of the wildest times remain, and as those legendary acts ascend to larger club/venue status. Strangely enough, the entire lineup for the Contamination Tour had a unique appeal that brought the essence of the underground out of its hiding place and created an atmosphere unlike anything I’ve seen at the Regent.
This was most apparent the moment Dying Fetus took the stage and the crowd completely lost their minds. There’s an “in crowd” that absolutely loves this band while the masses seem to overlook the impact they’ve had on extreme music in favor of other genre staples. Make no mistake, this band has done more than just earn their place at the table and despite various lineup changes they function extremely well as a three piece. This is what death metal is about – and it rips.