OC Death Fest
Mirror Image Studios
To celebrate OC's underground extreme metal scene, the OC Deathfest took place on Saturday, in an otherwise quiet industrial corner of Anaheim between the 91 and 57 Freeways at Mirror Image studios.
In what was a day (and evening) devoted to all things death metal, the venue had a small crowd consistently throughout, but the center room where bands played wasn't fully packed, until the final two bands performed, Disgorge and headliner Cattle Decapitation, both from San Diego.
Even though the festival began crazy early at 2:30 p.m., Cattle Decapitation took the stage just before midnight, and almost immediately fans began to pour in from outside. Vocalist Travis Ryan had the face of a rabid attack dog while on stage, and sung in a consistent misanthropic and excruciating tone. He can switch from deep guttural growls to high pitch shrieks in an instant, making the perfect inhuman, and often-unintelligible intensity within the music, the band is known for.
With short, spastic songs, and a violent bloody motif of animal cruelty, the reality of the meat industry, gore and an overall disgust for humanity, the band has always stayed true to underground metal scene with strong work ethic, and almost non-stop touring cycles in between albums. With over six full-length albums, the band has toured the world. Cattle Decapitation never disappoints when it comes to speed, brutality and technicality in their live shows.
With guitarist Josh Elmore, drummer Dave McGraw, and bass player Derek Engemann, Cattle Decapitation buzzed through a selection of songs from their latest album, Monolith of Inhumanity, as well as tunes from older albums such as To Serve Man, Humanure, And The Harvest Floor and even earlier collections such as the Human Jerky EP. By the time the band was halfway done with its set, fans were not only moshing but also stage diving into the pit.
Prior to Cattle Decapitation, a band that is revered among true underground fans of extreme music as one of the most brutal death metal bands ever, Disgorge took the stage.
Formed in the early '90s, the band's current line up features vocalist Angel Ochoa, bassist Diego Soria, drummer Ricky Myers, and guitarists Diego Sanchez and Ed Talorda. Disgorge the masters of the ultra old school death metal sound, with relentless, break neck speed and ferocious riffs, but also heavy as hell grooves interspersed throughout each song.
The metal heads in Anaheim got to experience a myriad of older songs from the Disgorge's early career, as well as newer songs. Fan favorites included “Cranial Impailment,” “Atonement” and “Womb Full Of Scabs,” among many others. After 45 sweaty minutes of death metal mayhem, banging heads, bashing bodies and almost non-stop blast beats; Disgorge exited the stage leaving fans chanting for more.
Other highlights of the festival included the LA/OC area based band Syrebris, fronted by vocalist/guitarist Victoria Villarreal, her husband/guitarist Manuel Villarreal, drummer James Coppolino, and bassist Jesse Villata. The band's powerful-yet-melodic hybrid of Morbid Angel, Vader and Death was skillfully executed. The vocals were strong and monstrous, and the guitars were shredding behind a bass and drum section that codified the band's heaviness and musicianship. Adding another layer of intricacy, the band's lyrics and themes deal with something more akin to Tool, than Dying Fetus: an esoteric paradigm, based on the nature of reality, and consciousness.
Before them, and local headliners Dreaming Dead took the stage at 5:00 p.m. to only around 50 people, just as the crowd was barely starting to grow. But that didn't stop the venomous LA-based band from conjuring up the sounds of Opeth, Nile, Cryptopsy, and Dissection. Led by vocalist and guitarist Liz Schall, drummer Mike Caffell, the band also features Chris McCarthy and former bass player William Toledo. The band's set was heavy, but also haunting and epic, with the perfect balance of groovy bass, and uber fast machine gun style blast beats, all complimented the blackened death metal thrash assault.
Other bands worthy of mention included the thrashy death metal warriors from Seattle, Thou Shall Kill, and the local blackened death metal band Empyrean Throne and Apathy, the former from the OC area, who pummeled out a vicious mix of raw black metal and traditional death metal, akin to a fuzzier version of Behemoth, the latter a very fast and heavy deathcore band from Whittier. Both bands played just before Disgorge and did a nice job of creating a buzz and making people come inside and warm up before Disgorge and Cattle Decapitation.
The Crowd:No more than 300 were in attendance at this underground event, but it was an all ages show. Longhaired thrashers in all black and denim, and shorthaired kids into metalcore mingled with old school death metal dudes with crazy beards all night. A tent was selling pipes, cigars and gourmet beef jerky, while hordes of people vaporized and ate tacos near a brick wall. No alcohol was sold at the venue, but not surprisingly the parking lot out back was littered with booze bottles when the show was over.
Interesting Fact/Random Notebook Dump: Cattle Decapitation's lyrics and songs often focus on the suffering of animals and a portrayal of humans going through similar torture. Along with disturbing lyrics, artwork and album covers, the band has seen its fair share of controversy, including the censoring of several album covers (To Serve Man, and Humanure) in several countries, and even an outright ban of the video “Forced Gender Reassignment,” from the band's latest slab of brutality, Monolith of Inhumanity (2012) from YouTube and Vimeo.
Overheard in the Crowd: “Whoa man, I just jumped in the pit for one song and got a busted nose! Is that metal or what?” An old school punker with a bloody nose said just outside the venue, just before Disgorge were through with their pulverizing set.