Hatebreed + Dying Fetus + Code Orange @ The Opera House, Toronto on 6th December 2017
It’s a great time to worship at the Hatebreed altar. This year sees the American metalcore outfit celebrate the 20th anniversary of debut album ‘Satisfaction is the Death of Desire‘ and 15th anniversary of sophomore full-length ‘Perseverance‘. The Opera House is totally sold out in advance with fans desperately scrambling to score a last minute ticket.
It’s a herculean task to steal a commendable view for Pittsburgh’s Code Orange. Formed in 2008 and living life under the moniker Code Orange Kids, this hardcore squad is sitting pretty after releasing their third and newest full-length on Roadrunner Records. Just listening to a single track exposes your ear to their unique selling point; this five-piece don’t just secrete hackneyed hardcore punk. They tamper with the genre, infecting it with metalcore, sludge metal and nu metal contagion. Drummer Jami Morgan supplements the music with coarse shouts and the occasional portion of growling while Reba Meyers contributes complementary growls. A synthesizer infuses the music with nu metal style electronics that mark the band apart from their contemporaries. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume the members are on performance-enhancing drugs given the amount of ferocious energy with which they whirlwind around on stage. The crowd eats it all up, with a pit so vicious that you hope all the participants have life insurance.
“It’s not my fault I’m pregnant and I’m on drugs. Who cares. Fuck the baby, let it die,” is the callous intro to death metal champions Dying Fetus. Espousing technical slam death metal, these Maryland inhabitants are the oddball on the line up, presumably present as their metal incorporates some hardcore influence. ‘From Womb to Waste’ is the song that is appended to the intro, featuring slams so heavy they can beat coal into diamonds. Their brutality is proportional to their technicality with clean arpeggios assisting slapping neck-snapping beatdown rhythms to seduce brutal death metallers effectively. The hardcore influence makes the guitar tone sound less murderous than their peers but more acidic. However, the volume isn’t loud enough and they sound muted and soporific. With guitarist Jon Gallagher and bassist Sean Beasley servicing a dual vocal advance, their stage presence is virtually non-existent. While this wouldn’t immediately be a problem on a death metal bill, it is impeding here, especially following the hyperactive Code Orange. There are numerous lulls in mosh pit activity that only fire up when Gallagher commands them to.
While most of the audience are devotees of hardcore, the death metal endorsers in the Opera House have plenty to sink their teeth in. This year Dying Fetus released ‘Wrong One to Fuck With‘ and tonight air “Fixated on Devastation,” “Induce Terror” and the title track from it. The album prior to this, ‘Reign Supreme‘, is one of their best, possibly evidenced by the band deploying as many songs from it as the latest album, namely “In the Trenches” and “Subjected to a Beating” along with the opener. Varying pacing, not holding back on the bestial and injecting delicious fat slams at well-timed sections positions these songs among some of the most flawless in Dying Fetus’ canon. “Grotesque Impalement,” “Your Treachery Will Die with You” and “Praise the Lord (Opium of the Masses)” compose a fair summary of the Americans’ discography. The last song is the hilariously named staple “Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog,” jolting the circle pit into death metal revolutions. This was a stoic performance but one that the hardcore audience ultimately and understandably couldn’t get into.
The headliners Hatebreed commence proceedings with opener “Empty Promises” from ‘Satisfaction is the Death of Desire‘, riling up the venue’s seemingly everlasting mosh pit. Vocalist Jamey Jasta dominates the stage with his pacing, inciting audience hostility throughout. The Americans continue to bulldoze through all fourteen tracks from their first album, a potent hybrid of hardcore and metal that delivered the headliners to stratospheric levels. The breakdowns are so heavy that they fissure the ground all the way through to the planetary core. The guitar tone is a maimed relation to classic thrash, echoing Hatebreed’s insistence to be associated with the metal while waving the banner high for hardcore – one of the first acts to attempt to bridge such segregated genres.
The full run time for ‘Satisfaction…‘ clocks in at 26 minutes, like a short but vicious punch to the face. Then the fans are spoiled with the inclusion of six songs from 2002’s beloved ‘Perseverance‘, with “Your Never Alone,” “Smash Your Enemies” and the title track being particular highlights. The band’s energy on stage is infectious, matching the macho pugnacity emanating from their music. The final song of the night, the staple “I Will Be Heard,” finishes off the set excellently. The band’s supporters look exhausted after such wild exertion but exceptionally satisfied. This is a Hatebreed fan’s wet-dream of a setlist and the members’ tireless performance is a reason why Hatebreed continue to sell out international shows after twenty years of uncompromising hard-to-digest music.