Venue: The Forge – Joliet, Illinois
Special Guests: Incantation, Abysmal Dawn, Blood Of The Wolf, Ephinepic
Date: Friday, August 25, 2017
Reviewed by Michael Juvinall
(Special thank you to The Forge in Joliet, Illinois for hosting an awesome event and for having an incredibly nice venue to see a show at)
***Don’t judge my pics too harshly, I don’t claim to be a professional photographer***
It was a night like any other in Joliet, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, during late August. Except the air was thick with energy and excitement for a night of black and death metal. Swedish black metal minions Marduk headline the night with support from death metal players Epinepic, Blood Of The Wolf, Abysmal Dawn, and death metal legends Incantation! It seemed as if everyone was there of course for the headliners but were excited for one or more of the supporting bands. Everyone was pumped for a night of devastatingly heavy metal including this reviewer.
Starting off the night were groove metallers EPINEPIC who hail from Bradley, Illinois. They were added to the lineup for being one of the local bands. Usually, at these shows, they add a couple of local bands to give them exposure when they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to play in front of larger crowds. These guys played for 25 minutes but there wasn’t a very large crowd yet to see them play. Their songs weren’t very remarkable or memorable for that matter. They played a thrash-deathcore mix with the loud growling vocals with the mic too close to the mouth so as to not understand a word the singer was growling out ( a pet peeve of mine, which is why deathcore is probably my least favorite metal subgenre). Anyway, their music was tight and they sounded good but you could tell they need a lot more show experience. Not great, but not terrible.
The next act was called BLOOD OF THE WOLF. These guys are a Chicago blackened death metal outfit that has been kicking around the Windy City for a few years. They were an excellent choice to be added to the lineup of death metal groups for this gig. They’re an up-and-coming band that more people should hear. They didn’t have long to play but made the best they could out of 25 minutes on stage. This band was technically superior to the previous band, you could tell right away. They played well, sounded incredible and were very tight. Frontman Mike Koniglio was impressive with his vocals and had an overall good stage presence that any good death metal band needs. Blood of the Wolf is a band that you need to keep an eye on!
3 ½ Pentagrams!
ABYSMAL DAWN was next and the first national touring act of the night. These Los Angeles based death dealers stepped up the ferocity for the night. This band really know how to excite a crowd and put on a great show. They played for 40 minutes and it still wasn’t enough for me or the crowd. Frontman Charles Elliot is an awesome singer with the perfect growls essential for death metal. They played a varied set list of their best tracks from over the years. This band has been around for almost 15 years and are a seasoned touring act which you can tell by how well they play.
3 ½ Pentagrams!
The next act is the legendary death metal outfit, INCANTATION. Seeing this band live was a bucket list event for me. Incantation played for 45 minutes which was just not long enough for me. I would love to see them in a headlining role where they could play longer. I believe what I like best about the band is that they are a death-doom metal band, meaning it’s not all about the speed. They mix their tempos with slow, grinding guitar work and lightning fast guitar work making for a great combination. It’s not just mindless noise like some bands are.
This is a band that’s been around for over 30 years and helped to define and pioneer the New York death metal scene. You can tell just by watching founder and Frontman John McEntee they are a seasoned and polished outfit. McEntee’s vocals are about as harsh and menacing as can get and compliment the music so well. If I’m being totally honest here, Incantation was my favorite band of the night and outplayed headliners Marduk. This band deserves to be seen live!
4 ½ Pentagrams!
Finally, headliners, MARDUK took the stage as the final act of the night. These Swedish black metallers are rather frightening at first appearance. They wear white and black dirty face makeup reminiscent of many other black and death metal bands. I was previously vaguely familiar with Marduk, but I never really listened to them that much mainly because I can’t listen to everything, there’s just not enough time in the day. So, seeing these guys live was a new experience for me and I’m glad I did because I now have another band to add to my listening roster.
Marduk has a commanding stage presence that really impressed me as someone not very familiar with the band. They played like they owned the place and lead singer Mortuus aka Daniel Rostén is a very enigmatic Frontman that likes to do things his way, which is fine by me because he is a very good black-death metal singer. His death growls are quite effective and are right up there with the best in the business. The rest of the band follows suit and are very good themselves. Their guitar work is magnificent and mostly fast tempo tracks backed by blast beat drumming.
They played for 70 minutes which seems rather short for a headlining show but these days, headliners are playing shorter and shorter shows and that really sucks for people that spend their hard-earned money to come to a show. That’s just how the trend is now. But on the plus side, it was 70 minutes of hard driving black metal that seemed to pump up the crowd. There was a mosh pit going pretty much the length of their full set.
Overall, Marduk was a very fine-tuned machine and kept me and the rest of the crowd at a fever pitch for the full set. They played a good mix of old stuff as well as newer material that satisfied and pleased the crowd. This is not a young band by any means, these guys have been around since 1990 with nearly 20 albums to their name and have earned the right to be headlining here in the states. Marduk obliterated the crowd on this night and it felt good! This band deserves all the accolades they get and I look forward to seeing them again the next time they come around.