Metal madness engulfs the stage

Story by Kris Kotlarik

You had to be there.

I say this because what you’re about to read in this review will seem unbelievable to those who did not attend the “Carnival is Forever” show on last Wednesday at the House of Rock on Water Street.

Coming from someone who has been to his fair share of metal shows, mostly at Station 4 in St. Paul (which includes the Devin Townsend show from earlier this month with Devin and all his antics), I can safely say this was far and away the most insane concert I have ever been to.

Two bands from California (Rings of Saturn and underground legends Decrepit Birth) and two internationally renowned acts (Fleshgod Apocalypse from Italy and Polish headliner, Decapitated) concurred with that sentiment, with each band praising the crowd’s collective craziness multiple times in some form.

Someone walked away from the mosh pit with a broken nose. I was horsecollared (the act of grabbing someone’s shirt from the back and pulling down) more times than I could count. On numerous occasions, I was hair-whipped in the face by the lead singers of Decapitated and Decrepit Birth.

And yet, in spite of all the madness and borderline-dangerous moshing, it was still the most fun I’ve ever had at a metal concert. If anything, the insanity just made it even more special.

In short, this concert was a death metal extravabonanza. Sure, you could find that in just about any major city, but a metal show of this magnitude hasn’t taken place in Eau Claire since 1999. Or at least so I’ve been told.

Even if you don’t like death metal or, for some reason, interpret death metal as “unintelligible God-hating bulls***,” (which I heard someone say on my way back from the show), you had to at least appreciate the sheer energy in the building if you passed by it. And even though I generally prefer more progressive or melodic forms of metal, that’s what I like about death metal: The blistering speed, the raw power and the chaos that comes with it.

Everyone who went to this show has their own highlights, but here were my personal favorites of the show:

The merchandise tables were amazing. I ended up dropping $100 on band merchandise. Never before have I seen such a balanced arsenal of merchandise from every band playing at a show. If you’ve seen me around campus during the last week, I was probably wearing some of that merchandise.

Personally, my favorite shirt that I saw (and bought) is a Fleshgod Apocalypse shirt with an awesome firebird surrounded by a cello. Because that’s what Fleshgod Apocalypse does. Speaking of which…

The Fleshgod Apocalypse set was what really kicked off the night for me. They were my most anticipated band, and, playing a bunch of songs from their new album titled “Agony”, did not disappoint. These Italians effectively use symphonic elements (including some operatic vocals) in their music, and it was on full display at the House of Rock.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would see them in Eau Claire. I thought I was going to have to wait until next summer, when I will be traveling around Europe to attend a bunch of festivals. Thanks for proving me wrong.

And the guitar solos were amazing! I’m as big of a fan of shredding as the next guy, but being right up front, just mere inches away from these guitarists and their blistering solos, watching the action unfold in front of me; it was all just incredible.

In particular, Decapitated and Decrepit Birth would put their respective guitarists front and center on a relatively frequent basis for the entire crowd to see. I learned more about guitar playing from this show than I have from watching guitar tutorials on YouTube; that’s how close I was.

Hopefully, this concert signifies a turning point in Eau Claire’s metal scene. It’s needed a kick start to its heart for quite some time, and Eau Claire got it with this show.

That’s why you had to be there. This show was historic for Eau Claire and its slowly-but-surely increasing base of metal enthusiasts. If nothing else, I boldly predict that Eau Claire won’t have a 12-year wait for its next insane metal show.