It seems to be a thing this year for popular, extreme metal editorials to put on tours. Maybe it’s always been a thing but I’m only just noticing it. First MetalSucks now Decibel. The Decibel Tour offered a great variety of genres, a little something for almost everyone, but had a nocitably black metal bias. Death metal wasn’t represented at all, but the lineup was diverse enough to attract all sorts of metal heads, from the laissez-faire fans to the die hards. The turn out was pretty unbelievable.
The show was scheduled at the infamous Agora Theatre. Ever since Peabody’s closed a few years back The Agora has been the go to place for extreme metal in Cleveland. The club has that perfect balance between a kind of DIY, dark bar ambience and bathroom cleanliness to be versatile enough for all types of people. The reasonable ticket and beer prices and cool staff create the perfect atmosphere for a good time. Needless to say, I was happy about the choice of venue for this event.
I arrived a few minutes late and only caught the last half of Mythrias’ (the local opener) set. Mythrias has been tearing up the Cleveland/Akron scene with their particular brand of DIY melodeath since the release of their debut, Absolving the Treacherous, last year. The band is always professional onstage and definitely worth giving a listen. I couldn’t be more excited for my buddies in this band for getting the opportunity to open for such a huge event. They definitely deserve it.
Next up was Tribulation. This band gets a lot of hype and I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why. Sure, they take showmanship seriously, but I really wish they’d take their music more seriously. You can’t just dress up like a bunch of girls and make rock star poses and call yourself a band. You actually have to write good songs. Tribulation is ultimately more gimmick than anything else. Although I get what they are aiming for in their sound, they don’t have enough oomph to pull off that whole metalized Slade/New York Dolls atmosphere. They best thing about their set was the light show and their outfits. The music itself was lacking. A total snooze fest.
Next up was Skeletonwitch. A horde of flannel shirts surged to the stage. Skeletonwitch has seen great success over the years amongst metal’s fence sitter fans, making them accessible to a larger audience. I thought it was mere luck until I witnessed their set. Professionalism is an understatement for the band. The band played crowd pleasers like and Beneath Dead Leaves and I am of Death. Their sound was impeccable, almost identical to the quality of the album and their energy was high. Did it make me a fan? No but that’s just because there are other thrash bands that are more exciting than Skeletonwitch. But at least now I get it.
High on Fire was up next. They’re a band that many, more death metal oriented fans can’t really get into, but I have to say that Matt Pike is looking more like a middle-aged Lemmy every day and it’s fucking awesome. Riffage reigned supreme throughout the set and it’s really Matt Pike’s fault that my neck hurts. They played mostly their higher energy songs and the set was lively and sounded great. Though the majority of the bands took advantage of a high quality light show, High on Fire’s set was mostly dark which made for a really gritty atmosphere. It was cool. Snakes of the Divine and Luminiferous were particularly cool and memorable parts of the set but all in all Matt Pike put on a killer show as usual.
At last though, the moment everyone had been waiting for had arrived. Abbath was set to play. A true rock star, Abbath put on a killer show. It was like KISS if they were a black metal band. I couldn’t help but feel star struck. Abbath gave the fans what they wanted, playing five Immortal covers, including All Shall Fall, In My Kingdom Cold, and my favorite, Solarfall. It’s clear the man doesn’t take himself too seriously. He gave fans plenty of the crab walk and for that we were all grateful.
His showmanship was truly professional and the light show was arena worthy. Also, there was a pretty smashing pit during his set, which doesn’t always happen at black metal shows. I couldn’t help but get into it. Overall, the entire show was incredible and it’s something I’ll remember for years to come. That means something coming from a person who ends up at a show about once every week. If the Decibel Tour is coming to your hometown anytime soon, be sure to catch it. It’s well worth the money.