Metal in the Mitten
The Michigan International Death Metal Fest
August 22/23, 1997

by: Henry Akeley / Adam Wasylyk / Alain M. Gaudrault
Steve says:

All in all, I had a great time at this well-organized two-day event. The unofficial motto for the weekend: "Okay - I wanna see you fuckin' guys get fuckin' SICK!" I swear, I must have heard those exact words about a dozen times - once for every gore-fixated "grinding death metal" band that I witnessed up on stage. Oh yes, it was gore metal aplenty - a veritable pot pourri of sludge-gargle jingles about eating and/or screwing the following: poop, fetuses, small children, unwilling females, corpses, and/or more poop. Yawn... Still, there were several gore-iffic bands who transcended mere slasher-movie cheesiness by belching forth a cloud of sound so heavy that it seemed to turn the air into a quaking mass of wet cement. The mighty Fleshgrind deserve special mention here, as do Louisiana's Sabbatic Feast. I seem to remember finding Deeds of Flesh pretty impressive as well.

On the more technical and less "putrid" end of the death metal spectrum were bands like Oppressor, Abominant, and Monstrosity. I found the first two of these bands enjoyable and fairly original, while Monstrosity struck me as pretty flat. The lack of a second guitar surely weakened their delivery, but beyond that, I've always found their material to be sort of clinical-sounding. Give me Cryptopsy or Incantation over Monstrosity any day. For that matter, give me Suffocation, who pounded and ground through a totally crushing set late Saturday night. No screwing around from these guys: first song, "Liege of Inveracity"! Suffocation struck an optimal balance between their more straight-ahead earlier stuff and more structurally-twisted later material, even hammering us with a few new songs from their upcoming mini-CD. Definitely one of the peak performances of the weekend.

Another definite high point: local black metallers Summon, who really sounded excellent live. (See CoC #24 for a review of their very cool debut CD, _Dark Descent of Fallen Souls_.) Given the talent these guys possess, I'm surprised that they are not much more widely known. Hail True Michiganian Black Metal!! Heheheh... I must say, though... no matter how strong my allegiance to the clandestine wilds of Michigan, if we're ranking things state by state, then Missouri gets highest honors for spawning one of the most rapacious live acts I have ever seen: Angel Corpse. Already highly wicked on disk, these guys are beyond venomous in the flesh. I've never actually been run over by a tank, but thanks to this band, I think I have a fair idea of what that must be like. Owing to Absu's unfortunate cancellation, Angel Corpse played a full set both Friday night and Saturday night - blasting, fiery black death, blindingly paced by John Longstreth's fucking UNBELIEVABLE percussive battery. (This guy is inhuman; those of us watching him closely were outright floored.) Nuclear drumming, relentless alien guitars, vocals dripping with heathen ill will - this band blew me away. Twice.

All in all, then, the festival was a highly enjoyable event - not merely on the musical level, but also on the level of just hanging out and having a good time. Big-time hails and gratitude are owed to Sandi "Metal Mom" Newton for putting the festival together once again! It's a shame that every state doesn't have its own Metal Mom, or Dad, or whoever: someone willing to put up with all the bullshit and strife involved in organizing such an extreme event, and able to keep things running as smoothly as this festival did. Great show.

Adam says:

My overall view of this show was positive, but next to the mammoth Milwaukee Metal Fest that I attended not more than a month previously - which boasted such acts as Hypocrisy, Cradle of Filth and Venom - it just doesn't compare. However, in Michigan, instead of having a small time slot to play in, bands were given a sizable amount of stage time (around half an hour). This does the fans and the band justice, so in this respect the Michigan show wins out. Unfortunately, the quality of bands was the big problem at this show. Read on...

I must admit that one of my motivations for going to the show in the first place was just to hang out: to meet friends and make new contacts, but most of all to just talk metal! And we (including CoC writers Alain and Steve) did exactly that.

Why this was called an "international" metal fest I'll never know, as I didn't see any acts that weren't American. Who knows - perhaps one of the bands had a Canadian member. Or (going out on a limb) perhaps a band member was re-incarnated from a Norwegian Viking warrior or a Swedish tree-dwelling troll? Who knows....

One of the biggest problems I had with the show was the amount of death/grind bands. As I've said before, I hold bands of this genre to a high standard. If they don't meet this standard, then I just can't appreciate them. It turned out that more than half of the bands at the fest were pretty bad and not worth remembering. Some of the bands in this category were: Exploding Zombies, Escalation Anger, Production Grey, Noctophilia, Regurgitation, Enter Self, Clean Flesh, Disfigyerd and Doom Formation.

Absu were perhaps the band I was most looking forward to seeing, but unfortunately they had to cancel. This really sucked, as I thoroughly enjoyed them in Milwaukee, and I had purchased their amazing _The Third Storm of Cythraul_ and become familiar with its material just for this show. However, Angel Corpse would make up for this disappointment by playing two sets (one both nights), which ended up being the highlight of the show. With razor sharp guitars and drums that totally amazed (just ask Alain about their drumming!), I definitely won't be forgetting Angel Corpse's live voracity anytime soon. Vital Remains also canceled, and that sucked too.

Despite more than a few bombs, some of the 30+ bands did do a good job and are worthy of your attention. Summon played a great set of high speed death/black metal which had most onlookers captivated. Fleshgrind played some truly heavy and brutal death/grind, performing material off their _Destined for Defilement_ CD and ending their set with my fave song "Anger". Deeds of Flesh, despite doing a horrible job on their Repulse CD _Trading Pieces_, actually did a great job in a live setting. Maybe it was due to their new drummer? Somnus also played a good set of atmospheric black metal with female vocals.

The headliners obviously weren't as big as those in Milwaukee, but they were entertaining nonetheless. Master's old school death metal sound went over well with the crowd, including one of my favorite tracks, "Cut through the Filth". Hometown favorites Gutted had the crowd enthralled with their set of aggressive death metal. Oppressor did an average job, and for doing so got a good response from their Midwest fans. Monstrosity played a good set, mixing old material and material off their latest, _Millennium_. Unfortunately the band need a second guitarist to fill out their sound as live they could have been so much better. As I said earlier, Angel Corpse ruled, playing a whole bunch of tracks off their Osmose CD _Hammer of Gods_, and some new tracks as well. Suffocation also played a great set, performing a good variety of material, including new stuff off their upcoming CD. This should be out any time now on the band's manager's label, called Vulture Entertainment (if I remember correctly).

What made this a great trip was the hanging out and talking; the music was incidental. Who knows if I'll attend this fest again? I guess it'll depend not on the bands, but on which of my friends will be in attendance.

Alain says:

Thumbs up: Two sets of Angel Corpse, Angel Corpse drummer, Oppressor,

Malamor, Escalation Anger, Metal Mom!

Thumbs down: Poor bar arrangement, Suffocation's sound, no

Suffocation CD release party, missing (dead, I hear?)

Monstrosity guitarist.

(article submitted 16/10/1997)


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