After seeing four Decibel Magazine tours come and go without me being in attendance at any of them, it was finally my turn to see what all the fuss was about. Being a long time subscriber to the magazine I’ve read all the recaps and noticed just how stacked each bill has been. This one was no different, and for once it was a weekend show. And a no-brainer, so I made the road trip to the almighty Masquerade in Atlanta, GA. Between the performing acts, the huge crowd in attendance, and the always welcoming and friendly staff this event was, from my viewpoint, a huge success and one I won’t forget anytime soon.
Armed with my Deluxe VIP ticket — which got me a t-shirt and tour poster delivered to my door along with a skip the line pass — I got there just in time to snag one of the last side road parking spots (aka rock star parking). It’s free and close, unlike other parking which, if you can find it, is expensive and a long walk to the venue. Minutes after arriving I saw Tribulation milling around the venue as well as Abbath, who was nice enough to come down from the upstairs (in Masquerade speak, Heaven) to talk with the fans that were awaiting door time as well as taking the time to pose for many pictures. The group of us with the VIP tickets had already been corralled just beyond the gates so I missed my chance to join in the Abbath picture party.
We were allowed entry 15 minutes before actual door time and literally had free run of the place, which was weird as I have never been in that venue on an empty floor. For those of you that have never had the pleasure, this place is old, dark, and has a vibe all its own. It has character and each time I go it feels like I’m stepping into familiar territory; coming home so to speak. The friendly and accommodating staff make it even easier to feel at home.
The floor filled quicker than I had ever seen as Florida’s melodic black / death metal act Inferion took to the stage. The band’s set was mostly made up of material from their latest full length This Will Decay. They’ve been around awhile (1995) and according to the second guitarist they’ve played in front of 100,000 plus in Bogota at some point and have a deep history together. When they locked into a blasting section of black metal riffs it was obvious they indeed had history as their playing was tight and they fed off each other extremely well. Their sound was pretty much what you would expect from a melodic black / death metal band — fast, abrasive and with guttural vocals. They bantered with the crowd and even made some jokes on their own behalf which proved magnetic for the crowd and by the end of their set they received a room full of approving praise. Being the ‘local’ addition to the lineup I thought they did well and started the show off with a bang.
Next up was Sweden’s Tribulation who didn’t take much time to get ready, they seemed to know exactly what they needed and did it in a hurry; very efficient. By the way they handled themselves here it was easy to see they take pride in what they do. After a couple of blinders and incense burners were setup the lights dimmed and it was time for their set. With a huge blast of smoke and eerie lighting that played well to the horror side of the band, they tore into “Strange Gateways Beckon”. From the onset it was clear, this band takes showmanship deadly serious as drummer Jakob Ljungberg began with his hands in the air as if to signify greatness was about to happen.
Then, guitarists Adam Zaars and Jonathan Hultén were lightning in a bottle around the stage. Particularly Hultén, I’ve never witnessed anyone able to move the way he did and still execute those difficult passages as flawlessly as he did. At one point, he leaned out into the crowd, winced his face into an evil looking grimace and yelled like a madman. Even without a microphone he echoed throughout the venue. It actually was a bit eerie but was yet another example of the band’s huge presence on stage.
Zaars had a rock star flair to his playing and had the ‘evil stare’ into the crowd down pat. Vocalist and bassist Johannes Andersson wasn’t as mobile but had a looming, demanding stage presence and absolutely nailed his gruff vocals. In truth he reminded me of Tom G Warrior which only lent more credence to his larger than life on stage persona. “Melancholia” and “Holy Libations” were crowd favorites but really their whole set — made up of mostly Children of the Night material — was simply amazing. It’s not often a band is actually better live than on recorded media but Tribulation most definitely were. Between the band’s talent, amazing sound, fantastic showmanship and engaging setlist, my money had been well spent and on this one set alone. Yet there was more to come.
The reaction from the crowd was overwhelming as well, the whole place erupted when the band finished up, speaking volumes to the performance we had all just witnessed. Pondering this after the show, YOB is the only band in my history of concerts that could even come close to comparing to what I had just witnessed with Tribulation. I was a fan of the band walking into the show but leaving and now days later I’m an even bigger fan of their work and look forward to the day when I can see them with a longer set time, even better would be seeing them as headliners.
Everything about the show was absolutely electrifying for me and more than lived up to the good things I had read about tours past. Kudos to all the bands involved, Decibel Magazine for consistently putting together great tour packages and last but not least, The Masquerade for continuing to be the premier place in this area to see metal shows. That’s all from me for Part 1 of the Decibel Magazine Tour 2016 review. Stay tuned for Part 2 from Corey Butterworth (@MrCMButterworth) in the very near future. He will have a nice surprise in store so be sure you don’t miss out.