Goregrowler's Ball V -- San Antonio, Texas -- November 18th-20th, 2011
Friday November 18th
I ended up heading down to San Antonio for this festival by myself because the friend of mine who was going to come along dropped out when Aborted cancelled. So after about a 90 minute drive I arrived at the Korova at about 5:40 and the first band was already playing on the outdoor stage. I was happy to see that there were already about 100 people or so there. I got my wristband for the weekend and checked out Emperial Massacre. The festival took place at bar/venue that I had never been to before. They fenced off the parking lot area directly around the bar with an outdoor stage set up. The back edge of the parking lot area backs up to the San Antonio riverwalk which was kind of cool. The basic set up worked well for the most part with each band getting a half hour (except for the headliners) and switching between stages, so there were no breaks in the music.
Vaginal Bear Trap or VBT were the first band I caught on the inside stage. I didnít catch any song titles, the singer would just say, ďthis next song is called *one-syllable-death-grunt*Ē before every song. They were a fun straight up death/grind band. Next outside we had Plutonian Shore, a group of corpse painted black metallers with a female keyboard player; not that those things should pigeon-hole them, but they sounded very generic. Following them was Uncleansed which was Shawn Whitakerís first of 3 performances of the weekend, the others would come on Sunday. Uncleansed is just one of the TXDM (Texas Death Metal) bands representing this weekend. Enabler is a d-beat/grind band from Minneapolis that played next outside. I caught a few of their song titles, but all in all they didnít do much for me.
Birth A.D. is an Austin based band featuring a couple members of Averse Sefira, but these guys play crossover thrash more in the vein of D.R.I. I was glad I was able to catch them here as I missed their most recent Austin show and they had to drop off of Rites of Darkness this year. Everyone was partying hard during Birth A.D. with beer and headbanging being the top priority for both the band and the crowd. Once Birth A.D. wrapped their set up I then made my way back outside for Havok. Those guys look like they have a blast on stage and it translated to fun in the crowd. Iíve thought these guys are kind of hit or miss on record, but they are so much fun live that you canít help but headbang.
After watching a little bit of Sargon I made the mistake of getting a hot dog. This did not sit well with me at all and I went to my car to sit down for a bit. I felt like shit, but thatís what you get when you eat a hot dog covered in queso, pico de gallo and bacon sold at a metal venue. I was parked right across the from the outdoor stage so I just rolled down my window and listened to Hellwitch play their debut album in it's entirety quite clearly. I still didnít feel much better, so I unfortunately took a nap during Nokturnel so I could at least try and recover a bit. I woke up to the sounds of Impiety and even though I wasnít 100% I forced myself to get up and watch a couple songs. It was well worth it. Impiety was among the most impressive bands of the day. I went back to my car during Solstice and returned for the end of Goatwhore. I watched about 4 or so songs of Exhumed, but was still feeling like shit and totally exhausted, so I got outta there and made the drive back to Austin before feeling like I was going to pass out. Day 1, epic fail.
Remember kids, friends donít let friends eat hot dogs from metal venues.
EMPERIAL MASSACRE (partial set)
Voices of Tormented Redemption
The Dawn of Suffering
UNCLEANSED (partial set)
Sacrament of the Ancients
ENABLER (partial set)
Last Time I Gave a Shit
Smell Your Cunt
I Blame You
This Scene Sucks
Blow Up The Embassy
HAVOK (partial set)
Purveyor of Fear
Saturday November 19th
Ok, day 2 began for me back in Austin spending the morning and early afternoon at a conference for work before being able to head out around 3pm. I was not about to fuck this one up. So with my car stocked with gatorade and granola bars I made the drive back to San Antonio. I checked into my hotel and got over to the venue a little after 6:30 and Severance was playing on the outside stage. Along with many of the acts on the festival these guys are another TXDM band. By the end of the set they got the crowd moving a bit and I was ready for an evening of no bullshit metal. Up next was the first band of the day I was really excited to see, Chicagoís death metal purveyors Cardiac Arrest. Frontman and founding member Adam Scott made sure the crowd walked away convinced that dudes from the midwest can hit as hard as their Texas counterparts.
San Antonioís own Hod was set to play after that on the outside stage, but following some delays in setting up their set was reduced to about 20 minutes. They played one new song off of an upcoming split which they mentioned will be released in a few weeks. This was about my 6th time seeing Hod since I moved to Austin, so I knew to expect a solid slab of black/death metal. Onward to the inside stage for Sacrificial Slaughter. They seemed to have some fans in the crowd for sure as the pits did not stop throughout their set. Funerus was supposed to be on next according to the schedule, but when I got to the outside stage Dehumanized had their banner set up. New York death metal through and through, the brutal death metal fans were slamming along to Dehumanized. Funerus now going to play indoors next and they were another band I was really looking forward to. Jill McEntee fronts this band (on bass and lead vocals) while her husband, Incantationís John McEntee plays guitar. She joked with the crowd a bit, asking if we would rather see Nightwish. They played several songs from their new album, Reduced to Sludge; which I would recommend death metal fans check out. I had a chance to talk with both Jill and John during the weekend and they were both really nice.
The mighty DeceasedÖ were on next on the outside stage and I quickly made my way to the front with a fresh beer as soon as Funerus finished. Their front man talked and joked with the crowd from the stage while the final sound checks were completed, then they proceeded to rip through a scorching 30 minute set of DeceasedÖ goodness. They were unfortunately forced to cut a song due to time constraints. At this point it was 10pm and the rest of the acts for the night were on the inside stage. The one man death metal madness of Putrid Pile was up next. Since he is a one man band he played guitar and sang while his rhythm section and perhaps a second guitar track was played through an ipod or something he had on stage. One guy playing over a track could have been really boring, but the crowd was into his compositions and he put on a very convincing show. I went and bought a Funerus shirt and took it back to my car. When I returned a New York death metal band followed, Internal Bleeding. These guys also got a huge reaction from the crowd. There was some good movement going on right up front and one of their guitarists hopped off stage down into the crowd and shredded for a song with people moshing around him.
Hirax was up next and after what seemed like a long delay they finally got all set up and began their intro. At this point the crowd was pretty rabid and when their wild frontman Katon took the stage with the opening song kicking into full gear the place went nuts. There were a few stage divers, actually it just seemed like the same kid about 20 times, and constant circle pits. For a bunch of Ďold guysí Hirax would destroy bands half their age when it comes to their conviction and stage presence. They currently have some great musicians but their frontman and only remaining founding member really steals the show and is awesome to watch. This is old school thrash/speed metal as it is meant to be. Itís like someone never told these guys it isnít 1986 anymore. They dedicated the song Hate, Fear and Power to Jesse Pintado RIP.
Internal Bleeding and Hirax were both set to have 45 minute sets, but with the last four acts all being inside the timing of equipment tear down and set up kind of threw everything off and at 1:30 Brutal Truth was standing on stage with a drum set that had no cymbals. I was a little concerned as the venue was supposed to have a hard 2am curfew. within a couple minutes they had secured some cymbals from a generous band and they ripped into some tasty grinding. Kevin Sharp was hammered and he mentioned that he had been drinking since 2pm, which I believe because he was wandering around the venue all day with a beer in hand. So they started out with the title track from the new album End Time and then proceeded to tear from song to song. Between the fact that they were not really stopping between songs and Kevinís lack of sobriety I couldnít pick out specific songs. A portion of the crowd took off after Hirax and since Brutal Truth were serving up alcohol fueled grindcore with a very large, open floor they produced the most violent pits of the night with a few near-fights breaking out. They pushed on til about 10 minutes after 2, but then had to call it a night along with everyone else. Day 2, success!
The Process of Self Mutilation
Embrace the Aftermath
To Their Graves
HOD (partial set)
The Smoke Will Rise
SACRIFICIAL SLAUGHTER (partial set)
DEHUMANIZED (partial set)
Man vs. Man
Sound of Oil
Comfort in Depression
Web of Deceit
Reduced to Sludge
Night of the Deceased
The Silent Creature
Cloned (Day of the Robot)
Black Metal (Venom cover)
PUTRID PILE (partial set)
Blood Runs Red
Food for the Maggots
INTERNAL BLEEDING (partial set)
Despoilment of Rotting Flesh
HIRAX (partial set)
Hate, Fear and Power
El Diablo Negro
Assassins of War
Sunday November 20th
I arrived back at the Korova around 4:30pm and Floridaís Extremely Rotten was on the outside stage. Their singer was absent and they had Shawn Whitaker filling in; and he had to be one of the hardest working musicians of the weekend, also fronting Uncleansed and Viral Load. When they dropped Dying Fetusí Kill Your Mother / Rape Your Dog the pit went crazy. Up next were two Texas death metal bands Engaged In Mutilating on the indoor stage followed by Disfigured outside. Engaged In Mutilating is fronted by the organizer of the festival Aaron ĎGoregrowlerí Mendiola. Disfigured features the insane guitar work of Mike DeLeon who later sat in as the second guitarist during the one-man-band Bloodsoakedís set. Invidiosus brought some serious death metal with some technical leanings from Minnesota. Unfortunately for them they overlapped a bit with Disfigured and most of the crowd was still outside for the first half of their set. But Invidiosus closed their set strong once some people accumulated and their singer dove onto the floor and incited a circle pit.
I think the next band outside was Genocaust, but I was inside chatting with some people until another Florida band, Hot Graves got started. Their crusty black thrash assault was awesome in and of itself, but also provided some good variety on the third day of a primarily death metal focused festival. If you have not heard these guys I highly recommend any Skeletonwitch fans check out Hot Gravesí Knights in White Phosphorus record from this year. The crusty/punk elements that Hot Graves bring make their music so fun and sets them apart from run of the mill retro thrash revival bands or whatever you want to call it. Face of Oblivion was on next which features James Lee on vocals, the former Origin frontman. Face of Oblivion is more on the brutal end of the spectrum and while they have some technical riffs, the vocals are the only similarity to Origin. Ingurgiate brought a round of satanic themed brutal Texas death metal from Houston to the inside stage next.
I hung out inside and got a beer and noticed that the next inside band was setting up really quickly and I knew that Noisear would be up soon. Meathook was still playing outside and there were less than 10 of us near the stage but Noisear didnít care and tore right into their 20 song set in front of a mostly empty room. Maybe he was taking a cue from Kevin of Brutal Truth the night before, but Noisearís singer was quite drunk; but itís grindcore and it really did not detract from the performance and they were even tighter than when I saw them at SXSW this year. I was at the very front of their stage and at one point their singer stepped on his mic cord and pulled it out of the microphone with the loose end of the cord flying off the stage. I snatched it off the floor and tossed it up to him and he slammed the cord back into the mic without missing a beat. A few songs later he dropped the mic and plowed straight into the center of the floor and slammed through the crowd and then back onto the stage. For me, this was the best grind performance of the weekend.
At this point I went outside and waited around about 15 minutes for the next band but no one was even setting anything up so I decided to duck out and grab some food. I went and grabbed a sandwich and came back to Bloodsoaked setting up on the inside stage. Bloodsoaked is a one-man metal band from Peter Hasslebrack who was aided in the live setting by Mike DeLeon on a second guitar as I mentioned before. Like Putrid Pileís set up, Bloodsoaked had all the drums and bass on an ipod that Peter would cue up before each song. These guys are both very impressive shredders and it was really great to see a rare performance from a unique band. Bloodcurse recently featured these guys on his top 100 death metal bands list and any death metal fans who havenít given Bloodsoaked a listen owes it to themselves to do so.
The rest of the bands for the night were also on the inside stage, which unfortunately meant for longer set ups which didnít help matters as they were already running about 30 minutes behind schedule at that point. Viral Load played next and the Texas death metal fans responded really well to this brutal Houston band thatís been playing since the late 90ís. They certainly arenít reinventing the wheel, but they do what they do really well and put on a great show. At this point I went over to the merch and grabbed the festival shirt that was only 5 bucks since it was the last day and a Noisear shirt for 10. I went back to my car and when I returned the next band setting up was very clearly not Phobia. I was highly confused as were the handful of people I asked. At this point in the night they were close to an hour behind schedule and bands kept having to cut sets shorter. So, the best I can figure Phobia either played while I was out getting food, which would be 4 slots sooner than scheduled, or they were going to have their set cut short and just didnít play at all. I saw their singer in the venue earlier in the day so Iím pretty sure they were around and the updated schedule on the festival facebook page from that morning had them listed as the band before Suffocation, so I have no idea what happened there. Luckily Iíve already seen them this year and they play Austin a few times every year, so it could be worse. Long story short I never did catch what band was playing.
And finally after another long set up and over an hour behind schedule Suffocation hit the stage for a short but brutal 10 song set. They mentioned that it had been a few years since theyíve played Mass Obliteration, so that was nice to see in the set. Bind Torture Kill and Infecting the Crypts most definitely catalyzed the largest pits of their set. Despite a shoddy venue stage and sound system and some sound issues during the first song, Suffocation were impressive as ever at the end of a weekend of some insane performances. I was on Hobbs side of the stage and it was great to watch those dreads fly. Everyone wanted more, but it was nearly 2am and the festival was over.
When all was said an done Iím really glad I attended and had a chance to see some rare performances alongside some killer headliners. 2 out of 3 days ainít bad anyway.
EXTREMELY ROTTEN (partial set)
Puss Filled Uterus
Kill Your Mother / Rape Your Dog (Dying Fetus cover)
Addicted to Vaginal Fluid
DISFIGURED (partial set)
Embalming the Corpse
Raping a Retard
INVIDIOSUS (partial set)
Creature Upon the Preacher
A Specious Existence
HOT GRAVES (partial set)
Kill for Satan
FACE OF OBLIVION (partial set)
Dead to Me
Drowned in Blood
The Blackened Sea
The Last Spark of Resistance
Cursed Since Conception
Information Highway to Hell
My Own Worst
Waiting to be Born
Grains of Sand in the Hourglass of Time
Suffering Pain for Sore Pleasure
The Chains That Grind Us
Consume the Flesh
Death of Hope
VIRAL LOAD (partial set)
Dying (Obituary cover)
Galloping Upon the Entrails of the Dead
Liege of Inveracity
Thrones of Blood
Entrails of You
Pierced from Within
Bind Torture Kill
Infecting the Crypts
opening with LIEGE OF INVERACITY IS FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!
Saw Suffocation do just that opening for the legendary CARCASS on the reunion tour.
That sucks about the first day. I'm surprised at Deceased's set. Only one song off the new album? Although I don't know what they had to cut.
I'm glad you dug a couple of the MN bands. I'm friends with everyone in Enabler, Invidiosus, and Face Of Oblivion.
Sounds like a great time.
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Some photos I took with my crappy little panasonic point and shoot camera:
Aside from the fest not running smoothly at all, sounds like a great fucking time! My sympathies to you for the first day You missed some great bands as well.
10 song headliner by Suffocation is ghey. But it seems as though they played great, as always. Man, I gotta see these guys
08/30: Bane and tour (?)
10/15: Soilwork, Decapitated (?)
|bloodsoaked, brutal truth, cardiac arrest, deceased, funerus, havok, hirax, noisear, suffocation|