Ian Storck

Decapitated and Septicflesh Spread Death Metal Over Chicago

Ian Storck
May 10, 2024
6 min read

Making their first stateside appearances in over five years, European death metal acts Decapitated and Septicflesh returned for the “Cancer Culture Over North America” tour this spring, featuring Kataklysm and Allegaeon.

The crowd at The Forge in the Chicago suburb of Joliet, Illinois showed up early to catch a barricade spot for what would be a fantastic death metal lineup. The venue offered plenty of great space to view the show, so even fans who showed up halfway through the event would still have a prime view of the artists.

Several songs in, opener Allegaeon had already set the bar incredibly high for the night. Rarely have I seen an opening act get a crowd so rowdy and excited as this Joliet crowd was only three songs into the short set. Singer Ezra Haynes, lept about the small stage, vibing with the crowd’s energy, encouraging the circle pit to keep going for every track. Their technical death metal sound had plenty of vicious riffs and breakdowns to make the crowd keep up their activities, as the main floor of the small venue was taken up by the moshers. By the end of the set, it was so clear that they were very grateful for just how intense the crowd was, making it a very fun show for everyone.

Kataklysm took up the mic next, with the Canadian metallers bringing melodic death metal to the Joliet crowd. The bar was set high, and they definitely hit it, with the crowd continuing to work up a sweat as the fans in the pit circled and circled through crushing tracks like “Guillotine” and “Die As A King.” The crowd knew quite a few of the songs, and sang along to the gruff chorus of “As I Slither,” as well as shouting and singing to “Crippled and Broken.” The crowd really kicked up into full gear for the final track of the night, “The Black Sheep,” as the group kept up their fast-paced tempo and heavy-hitting riffs throughout.

Greek symphonic death metal titans Septicflesh took the first headlining slot of the night, opening with their incredibly heavy “Portrait of a Headless Man.” Not giving the crowd any room to breathe, they bounced from track to track without a pause, save for the symphonic openers or interludes. “Pyramid God” got the crowd clapping during that introduction, only to immediately go back to the moshing once the guitars and drums kicked in.

Despite being incredibly heavy, many of their songs weren’t fast throughout, which stopped the moshing and often turned the crowd into a mass of slowly headbanging disciples for the slower, chugging verses. The temporary pause of the circle pit throughout was probably sorely needed for the nearly exhausted crowd, but they still had plenty of energy left for the incredibly fast and heavy “Communion,” which saw the members wildly headbanging along with the moshing crowd.

The return of Polish death metal act Decapitated saw the group’s first US tour in seven years, with the title taken from their 2022 release: Cancer Culture. The album and title track, a play on the phrase “cancel culture,” offers up blast beats and monstrous riffs, starting off their set with a bang. Taking things back a bit farther, “Lying and Weak” saw the mosh pit turn into crowd-surfing, with several fans being launched over the barricades and security into the pit.

Vocalist Rafał Piotrowski bellowed verse after violent verse, whipping his ridiculously long dreadlocks about, almost hitting the lights and the front row as they flew around like tendrils. The massive shredding power of founding guitarist Wacław "Vogg" Kiełtyka was certainly a highlight of their set, with awesome guitar elements and solos, especially in “Post(?) Organic” and “Spheres of Madness.” With a lineup like this, it’s hard to miss the mark in any capacity, and there were plenty of fans who showed up for one band or another in particular, but wouldn’t skip out on the others and miss a killer show.

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