Day one of the Fort Worth Metal Fest at The Rail Club was a long and musically diverse evening, opening with many talented locals. The day comprised of local acts on top of the National Metal Alliance Tour line up. I arrived right as Demonseed set off with crazy fast paced and brutal slamming death metal. Plenty of people arrived early and let the bands take control, leading to circle pits and moshing long before the touring acts took the stage. During mid-set the vocalist handed the mic to one of the audience members to do a vocal part, showing just how well received they are in the DFW scene. Next up was DFW’s Dead Rising, leading in with thrashy, fast, and slamming metal as well. Though quite a bit different from the previous band, it bode well as a sign for the diversity the night would entail.
The first on the tour package to perform was SystemHouse 33, a thrashy, Pantera-inspired band originating all the way from Mumbai, India. They played a lengthy set of solid, meaty songs and were received pretty well for being relatively unheard of beforehand. Rocking multiple Pantera shirts as badges, they played a few riffs in between songs and the inspiration was clear, dedicating a song to Dimebag as well. It was easy to see the excitement and happiness in their faces as they performed near the home of one of their idols.
Next up was progressive death powerhouse Black Crown Initiate, one of my personal favorite metal bands. Lending his talents to the band was renowned guitarist Wes Hauch, known best for his part in The Faceless’ most recent record “Autotheism”. Black Crown opened with “The Malignant”, the acoustic backing track serving as a foreboding lead into leg swiveling blast beats, and searing highs from vocalist James Dordon. Guitarist Andy Thomas’ clean vocals pair amazingly with the distorted mayhem; his voice sounds amazingly close to album quality and it enhances the atmosphere of the songs tenfold. They led into fast paced “The Fractured One”, and immediately following, introduced the next phenomenal song as “For Red Cloud” from their upcoming album “Selves We Cannot Forgive”, due out July 22nd. As they continued through their set, there was a moment during the play through of “A Great Mistake” where both Wes and Andy faced one another and seemed entranced in the music, a small moment between two outstanding musicians that was a treat to witness. Wes’ insane chops were apparent as he ripped through a solo nearing the end of the song, and though the set was fairly short as their songs are lengthy, it left me wanting hours more.
Wasting no time, Jungle Rot hoisted up their logo banner. No sooner than it took to play through their first measure, the circle pit formed almost instantaneously, and it lasted for the majority of their set’s duration. Wearing matching uniforms, the band’s refined and time tested sound came through without hesitation, proving that making a massive room full of strangers pummel one another at the drop of a hat was just another day at the office for them. Head banging and shredding through the entire set, Jungle Rot played many throughout their catalogue, such as “Voice Your Disgust”, “E.F.K.”, “Face Down”, and “Ruthless Omnipotence”, each song as tight and polished as the last.
The Acacia Strain, a Deathcore band from Massachusetts, was up next. A sound clip opening their song “Human Disaster” played through the PA, as Vincent, their vocalist, walked out. Shouting the words “rest in piss”, the down tuned onslaught began. Despite being considerably different than the previous bands, it didn’t take long for the two stepping in the pit to begin, with someone in a T-Rex costume showing up to mosh as well. When the vocalist announced they had a fast song coming up, titled “Ghost in the Helix”, the outline of a dinosaur thrashing about brought laughter to contrast the brutality of music meant to break faces to. Calling back to a crowd favorite, they played the classic “Car Bomb” which set the crowd off before switching back to newer material for “Send Help”. Vincent took a moment to thank the members of the headliner, Dying Fetus, before launching into their final song, “The Impaler”.
The final act of the night was Dying Fetus, a three piece American death metal band from Maryland. Known for their high speed grind influenced slamming music, the audience seemed to lose it before the music began. Having little exposure to them beforehand, I didn’t know what I was in for. Sporting consistent high tempo tracks, it was an overwhelming experience contrasted by the groovy slam pieces scattered throughout. The guitarist and bassist took the roles of vocalists as well, an impressive feat for such fast and difficult music. The song “One Shot, One Kill” began playing and hailed the return of the dinosaur in the mosh pit. Along with many others, it was hard to contain my laughter watching an inflated dinosaur go nuts to sweep picking, blast beats, and gurgling death metal vocals. The tightly synchronized kick drums and guitars were blistering, pummeling through the songs “The Trenches”, a slammer called “Subjected to a Beating”, “From Womb to Waste”, and a new track from their upcoming album, titled “Induce Terror”. A wholly positive experience, they inspired a look back into their catalogue.
The first night of the Metal Alliance tour was exactly that: a metal alliance. Boasting many diverse metal bands, there was something for everyone there, and it showed in the crowd reception. Members of the audience who were previously stationary bolted to the front when their interest was piqued, and it’s always awesome to see bands play for those they usually don’t get to. Tours of such a caliber are a blessing to the metal world and act as great exposure for bands who previously wouldn’t have been given a chance by fans of a certain sub genre. Though my personal favorite was Black Crown Initiate, I enjoyed every band that performed that night and was happy to finally give others the dedicated listen that they deserve. Tours like this serve to remind us all that despite any tags given to bands, and all of our differences, we are all a family that loves crazy music and through that, it brings us closer together.
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