Immolation are a band I haven’t always been keen on, their perpetual blastbeat downpour being somewhat impenetrable to me as a man who prefers his death metal melodic, tricky, and with a sense of groove. Yet upon a revisitation of Immolation’s catalogue, particularly more recent albums such as Atonement, I found many connectable and intelligent moments to latch onto, more so than I had previously. Beginning to feel as if I were a fighter ducking a formidable opponent for too long despite having seen them before as a support act, I bought a ticket just days before the Yonkers, New York jihadists were to invade a heavily gentrified part of Pittsburgh. Still I was only halfway prepared for the sonic violence I was about to experience.I had forgotten that Vigna, Shalaty, Bouks, and Dolan command what is a cybernetic death machine of pinched harmonics, serpentine riffing, labyrinthine drum patterns, heinous anaconda grooves, and soloing that shatters time and space. One cannot prepare themselves for Immolation and their bone-jarring phalanx against all life.A gestalt of trauma was summoned as a frenzied mob of unhinged moshers took over Cattivo, their bodies seemingly beyond control as the entire floor became a pit, songs such as “Dawn of Possession” and “Fostering The Divide” creating a mind-melting havoc that was barely contained by the brick, mortar, and glass block. To see them backing up a headliner was one thing. To see them as the main event was a pageant of brutality in a gladiator’s blood-strewn arena.
Ritual Mass had a technical issue that hindered and interrupted heir opening set a bit, but their runaway freight train death metal wreck couldn’t be denied. Swift and final, Ritual Mass showed through their brief set that they have potential to be top contenders.
Performing as a power trio, Johnstown damnation evangelists Funerus had some glitches in their set as well, but they wouldn’t be deterred from their baneful mission. The jovial, informal stage presence of leader Jill McEntee belied an intense worship of death metal deities as they proved themselves to be worthy avatars during their short performance.
Pioneering local doom/death alchemists Derketa dropped bombs to clear a path for the masters to march over. An appreciative and knowledgeable crowd was in awe over Derketa’s command of timelines once discarded by Paradise Lost. Brooding and churning, Derketa’s turn on the stage made it criminally obvious that they deserve a much greater following.
‘Twas a savagely successful night for the underground in Pittsburgh, and Winterforge Promotions are doing devilishly good things for it, planting seed in rich, fertile soil and tending gardens of iron-clad music to make our metal scene the Sherman tank of the country.