By Rosie Walker
(photos by Brian Wyner)
May 26th 2017, Exit/In, Nashville TN: Elliston Place is one of the best spots to be in Nashville, Tennessee on a Friday night. West of downtown, it’s a few blocks of bars and restaurants that host some of the best nightlife in the whole city. Nuzzled next to Nashville’s trending neighborhood, is the historic venue, Exit/In. Established in 1971, this club gave this area the nickname “Rock Block”. Over the years, many legends have taken its stage. From Johnny Cash to the Ramones, it’s a place that celebrates and supports good music. Painted all in black, it’s ominous in appearance, but considering its hospitality and alternative option to country music, it’s a haven to many. To have a place separate from Nashville’s nauseating plethora of honky-tonk music is special. This pillar of the scene in Elliston Place is an ideal setting to host quality, heavy metal shows. So it was not surprising to find out that the legendary Suffocation was playing there.
It’s rare to come across a local metal band in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s even more uncommon to come across one that’s actually good. Luckily the two local bands on the bill were more than tolerable. Ophiuchus (not to be confused with the Los Angeles based thrash band of the same name), the first band of the evening gallantly took the stage and perked ears with their classic, extreme metal sound. Vocal duties were shared, the guitars made a respectable effort to harmonize, and the drummer was the best part by being an outstanding anchor to the whole outfit.
The second local act, Greywoods, came across as a combo of Ghost Bath and early Mastodon. With a black, atmospheric, groovy sound, they did a nice job of gaining the attention of the crowd. They only played for 20 minutes, but for that kind of music, it was a perfect amount of time.
After a quick sound check, Revocation started their spirited set. Exit/In has the capacity for 500 people and a small stage which created a cozy, comfortable feeling. Opening with ‘Arbiters of the Apocalypse’, the single from their newest album ‘Great Is Our Sin’, Revocation had everyone engaged and singing along. The crowd gathered closer as they were able to properly process the intensity and articulation of Revocation. Everyone’s excitement rubbed off on each other and began to grow, creating a fun, intimate feeling. Hair flew freely, because of the band’s speed and severity. Lead vocalist and guitarist David Davidson poured magic from his fingers as he shredded and ripped riffs from his instrument. The vigor and grace carried by each member was admirable and exhilarating. Playing their fastest song ‘Communion’, they had jaws dropping all over the place. Though known for their heaviness and speed, Revocation has some very proggy, ambient moments that some might find surprising, but really add to their overall showmanship and sound. Their song structures are like a well coordinated dance with each player gliding through the movements with precision and experience. A look of indulgence and triumph overcame David’s face as he delivered his signature solos. The crowd ate it up. Teenage boys made up most of the audience and it’s great that they have a safe outlet to release and rage. Their 45-minute set ended all too soon and definitely left everyone hungry for more. It’s young bands like Revocation that keep the scene alive and give hope for the future of metal. Their talent and heart is worth supporting, and they’re a band you need to see live.
Suffocation took the stage at 11:30 PM. Right off the bat, their heavy, hostile sound blared through the speakers with intent and viciousness. The band has one speed, and that speed is super fast. Though they have had several line-up changes recently, new vocalist Kevin Muller reassured the crowd by saying, “We ain’t slowing down one bit”. Their merciless severity of sound pounded away all problems and reality. Tranquility was reached through their ceaseless brutal perfection of sound. The harmonious marriage between the gutturals and blast beats was perfectly highlighted in their new number ‘Return to the Abyss’. The crowd moshed along with the industrial clink and clank of the band’s heavy sound. Beefcake drummer Eric Morotti held down the fort with his beast-mode approach. Yet the drive and purity of the band still rests in original member Terrance Hobbs. The guitar hero played solos that were otherworldly. The onlookers marveled at the man’s craft and the teens eyed the band with respect. Suffocation is a group that has never compromised their savage sound and their deliberation was evident.
Rookie singer Kevin Muller tried to banter with the crowd, but has some work to do in that department. He’s good at growling, but needs to work on his confidence and jokes. Yet, it’s exciting to see such young, new blood carrying the heavy metal banner, even if some of the interaction with the crowd is awkward. The band played another new song, ‘Your Last Breaths’, from their upcoming album,’…Of The Dark Light’, set for release June 9th. The night continued on stomping through sounds of sludge and frantic, forceful groove. The crowd conjured a circle pit every chance they got, which was often. The energy radiating from band and fans was beautiful to witness. Those fat, juicy riffs led everyone into a frenzy of brutality and ferociousness. Suffocation has been wrecking ear drums for almost 30 years and judging by the new, capable line-up, they’ll be doing it for another 30. It was a special night in Nashville to have the presence of such metal legends.
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Suffocation remaining tour dates supporting Morbid Angel:
05/31/2017 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Small’s
06/01/2017 – Cleveland, OH @ House Of Blues
06/02/2017 – Detroit, MI @ Crofoot
06/03/2017 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
06/04/2017 – Minneapolis, MN @ Cabooze
06/06/2017 – Fayetteville, AR @ George’s Majestic
06/07/2017 – Lawrence, KS @ Granada
06/08/2017 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
06/10/2017 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
06/11/2017 – Idaho Falls, ID @ The Gem Venue *
06/12/2017 – Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
06/13/2017 – Portland, OR @ Dante’s
06/15/2017 – San Francisco, CA @ The Social Hall
06/16/2017 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent
06/17/2017 – Pomona, CA @ The Glass House
06/18/2017 – San Diego, CA @ House Of Blues
06/20/2017 – Phoenix, AZ @ Marquee Theater
06/21/2017 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
06/23/2017 – Dallas, TX @ House Of Blues
06/24/2017 – Austin, TX @ Grizzly Hall
06/25/2017 – Houston, TX @ House Of Blues
06/27/2017 – New Orleans, LA @ House Of Blues
06/29/2017 – Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry *
06/30/2017 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie *
* = no Morbid Angel