A crazy death metal lineup tore through the Metro.
Date: Tuesday, May 09, 2023
Place: Metro (3730 N. Clark St.; Chicago, IL 60613)
Ticket Price: $25 ($33.45 after fees)
I haven’t been back to the Metro since before the Covid pandemic started. It’s probably my favorite venue in Chicago. The sound is excellent there and it’s just a great building to see shows at. This particular show was stacked with some awesome death metal bands and probably one of the best lineups you’ll get to see.
I think this was my third or fourth time seeing Obituary, the iconic death metal band from Florida. It was my second time seeing them headline the Metro. Obituary are the kings of metal and one of the staples for a great show these days, kind of like Slayer were. I feel like they replaced Slayer in that role since that band retired a few years ago. Obituary put out their 11th album on Relapse Records called Dying of Everything on Jan. 13. This was the ninth show of their “Barely Alive in America” tour to support the album, which ended on May 28 with 23 dates.
I just got into Immolation last year with their new album Acts of God on Nuclear Blast. I never really knew much about them before finding out about that record. Immolation are a legendary death metal band from New York. Their 11th studio album Acts of God was one of my favorite releases from last year. These guys are really heavy. I expected some crushing metal in person. Immolation supporting Obituary on this tour was a killer combination.
I’ve been wanting to see Blood Incantation for a long time now. I remember buying their first album Starspawn when it came out back in 2016 and then forgetting about the band until a few years later with their next record Hidden History of the Human Race in 2019. They’re a really cool band from Denver that has great songs about outer space, aliens, ancient civilizations and all that crazy stuff.
Ingrown are a three-piece hardcore band from Boise, Idaho. They put out their first full-length album called Gun in August 2021 on Alternatives Label. I had never heard of Ingrown before but am always up for discovering new music and bands, especially good hardcore ones. I always like when different styles tour together, like in this case all death metal groups with one hardcore band. Apparently the singer/guitarist Ross Hansen’s dad is in an ’80s punk/hardcore band called State of Confusion so that’s pretty cool.
I dunno what it is about the Metro but the shows always seem to get crazier there. Every time I’ve been there the vibe is just heavier and a little bit more extreme. The crowd goes harder at the Metro shows. You’re not really safe anywhere. Well maybe up in the balcony, but on the floor is another story.
I got to the Metro super early, like an hour before the show as doors were supposed to open. I had to park pretty far from the venue and then walk to it, like 15 minutes away. There’s never parking in this area. There was also a Cubs going going on at the same time. The Cubs suck this year but it still gets packed down there all around Wrigley Field, which is like a block away from the Metro. All the nearby parking on SpotHero were going for ridiculous prices like 80 bucks, which was insane. There was a small line outside the building when I got to the Metro. They started letting people in at around 5:51 p.m. The doors were supposed to open at 5:30.
Inside there was a room set up for all the band’s merch. Immolation had a lot of shirts for $30. Obituary’s merch wasn’t set up yet so I planned to come back after the show for their tour shirt. I think I saw Blood Incantation even had a VHS tape for sale. I was able to get right up front to the stage since there weren’t too many people yet. I noticed they didn’t have the barricades set up in front of the stage to prevent people from getting up there and stage diving. Most of the other shows I’ve been at the Metro had them up so it was unusual.
Ingrown played first and started at around 6:30 with what I think sounded like a Waylon Jennings song playing over the room. I overheard an older boomer metal guy standing near me say, “I’ve had an ingrown toenail before but never heard of them before.” I wonder what they’re putting into the potatoes in Idaho as Ingrown absolutely went wild. When the band came out the small crowd cheered so it seems they’re at least somewhat known. Ross Hansen had a great stage presence and got pretty animated on stage. His vocals were really good. I noticed he had a tattoo on his upper arm of a revolver, which is unique to say the least. Ingrown’s set went by really fast. They played for around 20 minutes. I think they did like eight songs. The whole band sounded tight.
I don’t know if a lot of the crowd knew what was going on when Ingrown played since this was basically a metal show. You can always tell at these shows when people have no idea how to react. Hansen was slam dancing on stage and just generally gong nuts the whole time. There were a few people in the crowd hardcore dancing at points too but it was still mostly metal fans there just standing around. I liked Ingrown a lot. They were awesome live. They made a really strong first impression.
Blood Incantation were so good. They started playing around 7:15 and went for around half an hour. The Metro got pretty packed and mostly filled up by the time they got on stage. You could tell the crowd was excited to see them. Blood Incantation played five songs. The first two songs were “Starspawn” and “Chaoplasm” from their first album. They played “The Giza Power Plant” and “Slave Species of the Gods” from their second album next. “Giza” sounded great live. Morris Kolontyrsky on guitar was ripping the whole set right in front of me. He’s a great player. I think they ended with “Hovering Lifeless” from the band’s 2015 EP called Interdimensional Extinction.
Blood Incantation sounded amazing. The whole band played awesome. It was some pretty unrelenting death metal. The singing from Paul Riedl sounded tight and like the songs from the albums. The drumming from Isaac Faulk was so good. He was heavy as hell, going nuts the whole set. He’s a really fantastic player, especially live. I wish I could see the band’s longer set and see them play for like an hour. On one of the band’s gear boxes there was a sticker that said, “Cosmic Music for Cosmic People.” Their set definitely fit that description. I couldn’t get over how heavy the vibe was. At one point during Blood Incantation a kid got on the opposite side of the stage and jumped off near me. He got a really good start and speed going. People around me caught him but I thought he was going to smash into me for a second. A security guard near me didn’t like it but they didn’t have the barricades up so there was nothing he could do.
Immolation played next and crushed. They started at 7:58 with the intro of “Abandoned” from Acts of God. The band did a few songs from their new album like “An Act of God,” “The Age of No Light” and “Blooded,” which all sounded fantastic. I really liked the new songs live. They had a really great set of songs in this set. They had a good pit going early on too. Before going into their fifth song “Despondent Souls” from their first album Dawn of Possession (1991), singer and bassist Ross Dolan said he sensed an old school vibe in the building. The vocals and his facial expressions were nuts on this song. Dolan’s singing on the seventh song “World Agony” from Shadows in the Light (2007) sounded so sick with how deep he went.
Their eight song “Destructive Currents” from 2017’s Atonement went hard too. The next song “Providence” from the 2011 album of the same title was really good live, especially the riffing. The song had a big mosh going that grew as the song went on. After playing “Under the Supreme” from their second album Here in After (1996), Dolan thanked everyone for 35 years of support. He also shouted out the band Broken Hope for helping them out, who I guess are a death metal group from Chicago. I hadn’t heard of them before.
Immolation ended at 8:41 with like 11 songs. The band had a really great set with a mix of the new songs plus other tracks throughout their albums. They were all awesome live. Robert Vigna went nuts the whole time. He was on the other end of the stage from where I stood. He was very animated as he played. He kept lifting his guitar in the air and doing these cool poses while maintaining the songs. The other guitarist Alex Bouks played in front of me most of the set and was very stoic and methodical the whole time. The drumming from Steve Shalaty was super heavy too. It’s pretty impressive how Dolan maintained his vocal style through the whole night. He also played his bass with his fingers and the guitar also really low to the ground. He had a unique stage presence with a lot of intensity.
Immolation’s songs are weird in the sense that they are hard to traditionally headbang to but are still so sick and heavy. Seeing them live, the guitars sounded really crazy. It’s like they kind of scramble your brain with all the directions the riffs and guitar solos go. All the band’s members are excellent musicians at what they do. The same security guard near me pulled down two different crowd surfers trying to get moved towards the stage. He pushed into the crowd, grabbed them by their legs and yanked them down. I guess they just fell into the crowd but it definitely wasn’t a safe landing.
Obituary were wild. The room and the balcony of the Metro were super filled before Obituary started. It was probably a sold-out show. It was really packed tight. The same security guard from earlier in the night basically gave up immediately and just let people jump on stage and fly off. Obituary played a lot of songs from their new album, like six in total. All the new songs sounded really awesome live. Before starting they had the Obituary band logo on the ceiling like the Batman signal. That was really cool. The lights went off at 9:04 and “Snortin’ Whiskey” by Pat Travers played, which is Obituary’s introduction song. Obituary opened with the instrumental “Redneck Stomp” from Frozen in Time (2005). Immediately a huge pit popped off. That song’s riff is so heavy live. It never gets old hearing that song played in person.
I stayed right in front of the stage for Obituary so I basically tried not to get killed the whole time. There were so many stage divers, especially during the last several songs. It was nuts. I was dodging stage divers during Obituary like George W. Bush dodged shoes thrown at him during a press conference in Iraq. It’s useless to try to catch people when you’re so close up to the front. You’re just going to get kicked in the face or hurt trying to catch people going at that speed. Later in the night one chubby guy lost his shirt during Obituary’s set but kept going back up for more stage dives.
The second song Obituary played was “Sentencing” from their 2017 self-titled album. The guitar soloing on this song from Kenny Andrews was insane. They played “A Lesson in Vengeance” from their 2017 self-titled album as the third song, which was fantastic live. Obituary played “The Wrong Time” and “Barely Alive” as the fifth and sixth songs from the new album. These were both great live and fit in strongly.
Their eight song “Find the Arise” was sick live. During the song I got knocked over because a stage diver flew off the stage and people behind me were pushing a lot from the pit. The next new song “Weaponize the Hate” from Dying of Everything was really good with heavy riffing. John Tardy’s vocals on another new one right after called “My Will to Live” were awesome and so great live. You could just see it all over his face and hear the words cutting through his throat. “Chopped in Half” and “Turned Inside Out” from 1990’s Cause of Death were all played together next. The crowd went nuts during the combination and a huge pit ran on in the center of the floor.
After these songs, Obituary came on stage again for an encore, starting with “War” from their new album. The self-titled song “Dying of Everything” from the new record got played next and was insanely good. It was so heavy. They did “I’m in Pain” from The End Complete (1992) and everyone in the crowd were going nuts. During the middle of the song Donald Tardy did some extended double bass drumming that went right into a sick solo from Andrews. “Slowly We Rot” from Obituary’s 1989 debut album closed the show. A huge pit opened up again. People were just going nuts. A dude stage diving wiped me out and several people nearby right near the end of the song. I actually almost fell all the way down to the floor but some people nearby helped me out. There was a super, mega pit towards the end of “Slowly We Rot.”
I got knocked back several times during Obituary and almost fell completely down to the floor but caught my balance. Even though the pit was in the center of the floor, its chaos and ripple effects basically spread out across most of the room like a tsunami. There was barely any safe ground. This always happens at the Metro. The show got crazier as it went on. It didn’t slow down. At one point I think a stage diver jumped over me, wasn’t caught and landed on his head. This was one of the best crowds for a show that I can remember.
“Cat Scratch Fever” by Ted Nugent was the band’s outro song. They stayed on stage a bit and thanked the crowd. The band did about 15 songs and played for over an hour. Obituary were sick as usual. I liked how they played so many new songs from Dying of Everything, which sounded killer in person. The energy of the show was off the charts and the crowd made it even better.
After the show I picked up an Obituary tour shirt for $30. I had to wait a long time as the merch area was packed. I felt bad for the woman running it as the room got pretty packed after the show. I left the Metro at 10:46 p.m.
I saw an ambulance driving down the street with its sirens on and then pull up to the corner in front of this nearby Raising Cane’s chicken place after leaving the Metro. I thought maybe someone was sick at the restaurant or something. I recognized this younger dude as one of the many stage divers during the Obituary set standing outside Raising Cane’s. Unfortunately he jumped off the stage “wrong” and landed straight down on his legs. He might have showed up again later in the set too doing more stage dives. This guy didn’t look so good. One of his legs looked all weird and messed up. He was clearly in pain too. His buddy was trying to help him out. The medical people took him in the back of the ambulance and closed the doors. That’s gonna be a hefty medical bill.
It was an awesome show as usual at the Metro.