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Image by Talk Director

By Talk Director

Metal is a genre I have always been interested in learning more about, as I have only ever listened to the subgenre Nu-metal, such as bands like System of a Down, Deftones, Korn, Slipknot, and Drowning Pool. Besides the band Death, I have never listened to Deathcore or Death Metal. My friends invited me to The Catalyst for the Decade of Hatred Tour with Australian headliners Thy Art is Murder, main opener Kublai Khan, and openers Undeath, I am, and Justice for the Damned. The poster for the show was enough to sell me on going to the show, and it features a revamped art from Thy Art is Murder’s second album, “Hate.” It shows three bony, demonic, almost dragon-like creatures that can breathe fire; they have reaped havoc across the place that they are in. I could not miss out on this event.

The day of the event was February 24th, a Friday, also the Friday during the winter storm that hit California with strong winds, rain, hail, and even snow. The event was said to start at 6 pm, but by the time I arrived, the line was wrapping around the block, and no sign of when the doors would open; after almost an hour, the line began to move, and within minutes of entering the first band Justice For The Damned set up quickly on stage. All the bands had been impacted by the storms and had just arrived at the venue only an hour prior, but they were eager to provide an excellent show for the audience there. They were a much smaller band from Australia but their performance was grand and unstoppable. Since the set began abruptly, people were still filling up the venue, and the mosh pit seemed hesitant to begin, but after the second song, everyone settled in and was ready to enjoy the night.

Prior to this night, I had never listened to any of these bands, I wanted to walk in and discover a newfound love for this genre, and I did, especially with the band I AM. The lead vocals and frontman, Andrew Hilleman, walked on stage with fantastic energy, almost not being able to contain himself from excitement. He interacted so well with the crowd and felt every lyric of the songs that the band was performing. Seeing the band have a great time encouraged me to have even more fun in the crowd. One of the people in the crowd brought a large chipmunk plush to the venue and tossed it to the artists to interact with. And Hilleman would raise the plush in the air and mimic the headbanging motion to the song. I saw a few people with that same chipmunk and was trying to figure out what exactly it was referencing. I AM performance played through my head for the rest of the night, I even mentioned them in the Story feature on Instagram, and they responded to it with gratitude. Undeath was the next band; they joked with the crowd and asked who knew them and who didn’t, and laughed when the majority said they didn’t. The band was very charismatic, and the art on their banner was captivating; their logo was grotesque in the best way, featuring bones and skulls.

For this next section, I wanted to add a quick possible TW (trigger warning) as I will talk about some violence during the show.

As the production crew set up for the next act, you could feel the restlessness from the crowd, everyone knew who was next, and the excitement was building up to see Kublai Khan. As they walk up to the stage, everyone is mesmerized by them as they begin their first song; the mosh pits become bigger, the people become rowdier, and the crowds sway back and forth. More people were singing along to the fast-paced lyrics; I struggled to keep up with everyone and even got a bit overwhelmed as there was such a massive shift to the prior openers. As I began to get comfortable once again, I noticed the front row had stopped moving. While moshing, this man with strange tattoos on his face grabbed the face of another man and bit his nose. The man that had been attacked was in complete disbelief and shock; he struggled to comprehend what had just happened and ran for help as his face was painted with blood from his nose. The man had not done anything besides moshing to instigate the attack, and the event threw me off entirely from the fun I was initially having. I could not tell if this was something normal that happened in these shows, but everyone around me was also horrified by it. It made me quickly question whether I belonged in this space that was so foreign to me and if someone would intrude on my fun by attacking me too. Luckily security escorted the attack out, and the atmosphere returned to what it originally was. However, I moved on from my anxious self; I remained cautious about how I interacted with others—fearing that I might be portrayed as naive in this new environment. Kublai Khan was great regardless, they had fun interacting with the crowd, and after their set, they walked through the crowd to get to the bar across and greeted their fans all the way through the venue in a friendly manner.

The stage completely shifted; it felt bigger, the lighting was more intense, and placed in front of everyone was a mic stand; it displayed skeleton bodies over one another. It was gnarly. The lighting flared red against the stand, making it appear bloody and gory. Thy Art is Murder was finally on stage, and I felt frozen by the vocals of CJ; his vocal range was absolutely insane. It was my favorite set of the night, as everything was about it was great. Something I always appreciate is when you can tell that the band is having fun and enjoying themselves, and you can see the joy on their faces being able to play in front of a crowd again. The Decade of Hate tour was a fun on, all the bands were enjoyable and high energy. I found a new interest in this genre of metal and see myself going to more death metal shows in the future.