Live Review: Decapitated - The Mill, Birmingham
3rd November 2022
Support: Despised Icon, Oceano, Viscera, Distant
Words & Photos: Damian John
Decapitated are a band who first emerged onto the extreme metal scene back in 1996 and have since suffered many highs and many lows. Recently however they've been on a massive high with their last two releases 'Anticult' and the more recent 'Cancer Culture' both receiving mainstream appraisal. Co-headlining are the Canadian deathcore pioneers Despised Icon who first started their onslaught on the deathcore scene a staggering twenty years ago, minus a few years on hiatus. Tonight they're joined by special guests Oceano, Distant and Viscera who will remain for the entirety of the UK leg of the tour.
A healthy pit has already opened before Viscera have even hit their first breakdown. They make fine use of the small amount of space available still riling people up enough to get them moving this early on in the evening. 'Layers of Skin', one of the new tracks from their upcoming album is a particular highlight of their set incorporating some divinely filthy blastbeats proving to be the perfect soundtrack to the madness going on within the crowd. They bow out with the barbaric ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ leading us on to our next act.
Distant haven't been back to our humble city since March when they were supporting the almighty Lorna Shore, they kicked ass then and you better believe they're kicking ass now. With a chant of 'I am it' ringing through the venue, Distant break into the superbly filthy ‘Aeons of Oblivion' prompting a circle pit as strobes fly from the stage. 'Heirs of Torment' from their first album 'Tyrannotophia' hits like a freight train filled with lead as the tempo really slows down allowing the bass to swell. 'False Gods' is an absolute banger to end on with Alan Grnja showing us how ferocious his vocals can be effortlessly drifting between his high and low registers.
I’m so happy to see Adam Warren of Oceano once again, I’ve always been so encapsulated by his performance and just how insane his vocals are. Sharing the love for Despised Icon and Decapitated, Adam Warren takes a quick second to dedicate 'District of Misery'; arguably one of their most brutal songs to the two extreme metal legends. Followed up by 'Inhuman Affliction' and ending on 'The Taken'; what a three song whammy. Throughout their set they experienced a few technical hitches with feedback but this didn't hold them back at all, nothing could ever stop them from dominating whatever stage they walked onto.
Our first of two headliners tonight, Despised Icon all the way from Montreal Canada break out into 'Furtive Monologue' quickly followed by 'A Fractured Hand'. For a band who have been around for twenty years they still have venom in their bite. They're as tight as ever with dual vocalists Alex Erian and Steve Marois bouncing vocal passages between one another while there's simply carnage happening around them. Drummer Alex Pelletier’s foot buries itself into the ground every time he starts one of his savage blastbeat passages. Having a slightly older hardcore sound you'd think they'd stand out a bit on tonight's lineup filled with modern and technical deathcore but not at all, they flawlessly hold their own. Taking a second to speak to the eager crowd, we're told this is the first time they've been to the UK in five long years which explains the excitement of my fellow metal fans present, this tour truly is a special occasion.
Exploding straight into their newer material, 'Cancer Culture' sounds massive tonight, almost as if every snare hit or guitar chug has its own gravity pulling us towards the stage and Decapitated. Voggs guitar tone is simply monstrous, it's so easy to forget the fact that they're only a four piece yet they're able to muster up this wall of sound. Third track in is 'Earth Scar' from 2017's 'Anticult', a personal favourite of mine, the subtle buildup of the intro into the onslaught of the main riff could be considered too heavy for many. May be a bit too heavy for a few individuals as the pit seems to be getting steadily more rowdy, quite a feat considering how brutal the supports have been. It could be said that Rasta has one of the most recognisable silhouettes in all of metal, up there with the greats particularly when his dreadlocks are flung about reaching each side of the stage. There seems to be more energy tonight compared to when I saw them last in April, not that they gave a lacklustre show last time round but this tour package appears to be doing wonders for their performance. They’re tight, heavy and menacingly aggressive - everything you’d ever want and expect from these death metal titans.