When a gig is promoted with the bands quoted as saying: "Best build a new White Rabbit 'cos we're fucking the first one up!" I just had to find out how things would pan out; I call that kind of statement a challenge!
Opening act Fallujah, a technical Metal band from California, were making their first visit to Plymouth. It is an unenviable task being the opening act but someone has to do it and they did it well and with enthusiasm. They played a great set and I hope this is not the last time we see them. Their performance was enjoyed by a modest size crowd who seemed to appreciate their efforts.
Second to the stage was Colorado thrash Metal quartet Havok who opened with 'Scumbag In Disguise', with vocalist David Sanchez commenting that "everyone knows one". The crowd was starting to grow and liven up; this was another great set which included the title track 'Unnatural Selection' from their forthcoming new album.
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Also from Colorado, support act Cephalic Carnage, a band known for playing a selection of styles of Metal, ranging from doom, sludge, hardcore and Metalcore but whose main genre is grindcore and who are also one of the most humorous and entertaining bands I have seen. Amongst the tracks played were 'Kill For Weed' and a song about people who play video games, think it is real and kill people, 'Endless Cycle Of Violence'.
The set highlight for me was 'Black Metal Sabbath' where the entire band donned masks and studs with one of the guitarists wearing a giant horse's head. Another entertaining moment was when the guitarist leapt into crowd and waded his way to the bar playing his guitar, then collected a beer and drank it whilst still playing. A guest appearance was also made by vocalist Simone Pluijmers (formerly Cerebral Bore) on one song.
Finally headliners, brutal technical death Metal five piece, Suffocation, from New York, a band considered to be one of the major innovators of death Metal; having had a massive influence on the genre and who are considered to have pioneered the balance between brutal and technical sounds most often heard in modern death Metal, hit the stage.
This was the second time I had seen them in eighteen months and this time around the vocal duties were covered by John Gallagher (Dying Fetus), previously the role had been filled very well, last year, by Bill Robinson (Decrepit Birth). Their performance was brutal, breathtaking and a joy to behold.
I thought that there were great dynamics within the band from the addition of John, a brutal and powerful vocalist with a good stage presence. As the set reached its pinnacle there was a pretty crazy pit happening alongside a fair amount of stage diving.
A couple of highlights from the set were 'Purgatorial Punishment' from new album 'Pinnacle Of Bedlam', 'My Demise' and comments from John about his paleness and dislike for the sun, preceded the band breaking into 'Catatonia' from the 'Despise The Sun' EP.
Good sound across all four sets was enjoyed as well as a great evening's entertainment, in case you are wondering; The White Rabbit was severely shaken, but is still standing...