It was Wednesday night, November 22, 2023, in Portland, Oregon, when the men of Suffocation came to town. Luckily it was the day before Thanksgiving, so it was a great night to be up late.
Up first was local Portland death metalers Vulnere. They provided a solid set with the added benefit of looking like a proper death metal band. Supporting an EP “Toothed Lines,” out July 2023, they were the perfect opening for this monster of a show.
Relative newcomers, Houston’s Stabbing, took the stage next and it was a blur, literally. Vocalist Bridget Lynch was a beast in both voice and movement. I don’t think I saw her face once under her swirling hair. While the band is new (formed in 2021) the members are not. Just one look at Encyclopedia Metallum and you’ll see the history of the band’s members. Supporting their 2022 album “Extirpated Mortal Process,” this band put on a killer show and is definitely one to watch. It’s Brutal death metal done well.
- Inhaling The Dead
- Final Flesh Feast
- Gutted By The Beast
- Visions Of Eternal Suffering
- Vortex Of The Severed Dead
- Ravenous Psychotic Onslaught
- Pulled Apart
- It Ends With Flames
- Pulsing Wound
- Bridget Lynch – vocals
- Marvin Ruiz – guitars
- Matt Day – bass
- Nat Conner – drums
Skeletal Remains, California’s old school death metal fiends, was band I was really looking forward to seeing again. While they have not put out a release since 2015, they are still relevant and proved that they have staying power with how many people stood to watch their set (and the length of the line to buy their merch.) With two singles in their catalogue released in 2023 “Void of Despair,” and “Relentless Appetite,” I know we are all excited for “Fragments of the Ageless,” out on March 8th, 2024. Skeletal Remains were energetic, heavy, and delightfully loud! The mosh pit opened wide and engulfed the crowd. It was here where I tip toed through the mosh pit, straight to the merch table. I made it safely and was able to replace my old Skeletal Remails shirt that was tattered and torn.
- Void of Despair
- Parasitic Horrors
- Beyond Cremation
- Illusive Divinity
- Internal Detestation
- Congregation of Flesh
- Torture Labyrinth
- Tombs of Chaos
- Chris Monroy – vocals, guitars
- Mike De La O – guitars
- Brian Rush – bass
- Pierce Williams – drums
East Coast’s death metal giants, Incantation, have been around for over 25 years and are considered to be in the elite group of being instrumental in the New York Death Metal Scene alongside Suffocation. With tons of former members, John McEntee has kept this band going (4 ex drummers, 6 ex bass players, 3 ex rhythm guitar players, 1 ex vocalist, and 2 ex lead singers), but you wouldn’t even notice seeing them live; they looked as if they had always been together. McEntee’s stage presence was enchanting, and the entanglement of their music was fascinating. Groove driven, varied tempos, ominous lyrics, and their extreme confidence in being on stage made you glad you didn’t miss this one. Touring with their friends in Suffocation, and on their most recent release, “Unholy Deification,” they ruled the night up to this point. What started as a small circle pit turned into a bloody nosed, sweat soaked, behemoth of a pit.
- Concordat (The Pact) I
- Rites of the Locust
- Carrion Prophecy
- Shadows of the Ancient Empire
- Fury’s Manifesto
- Blasphemous Cremation
- Ascend Into the Eternal
- Chalice (Vessel Consanguineous) VIII
- Invocation (Chthonic Merge) X
- The Ibex Moon
- Impending Diabolical Conquest
- John McEntee – vocals, guitars
- Luke Shively – guitars
- Chuck Sherwood – bass
- Kyle Severn – drums
Now on to the best part of the show. Suffocation! Having met guitarist Charlie Errigo many years ago, I got extra special treatment on this night – side stage position. I was thrilled to be seeing them again from this amazing vantage point most don’t see. Charlie and I met up earlier in the day and caught up on life, then met throughout the other bands’ performances.
While Frank Mullen is sorely missed, Ricky Myers is absolutely perfect for the position.
Supporting the freshly released “Hymns From the Apocrypha,” Suffocation is a SAVAGE of a band!
Highly polished with just enough time between songs to wipe the sweat from their faces and hands, the men of Suffocation go hard. Really hard. While my position was seeing their backs and sides, I also had the pleasure of seeing the fans’ reactions to the depth and breadth of the members of Suffocation’s energy and sound. With death metal elitists more on Terrance’s side and those amazed by the power and sound on Charlie’s side, it was great to see the faces the fans made as they reacted to the two stellar guitarists.
Long-time Bassist Derek Boyer is always fun to watch! With his bass sometimes on the floor, his body nearly bent in half, his stage presence was incredible. Terrance must be so pleased with the band in 2023. They have talent, charisma, and staying power, showing all who dare to see just exactly why they are SUFFOCATION.
The extreme level and pace that Suffocation gives with their style of brutal death metal is mesmerizing. Having seen Suffocation many times, this was by far my favorite Suffocation show.
I had heard a rumor prior to the Seattle show the night before that Ricky Myers had strep throat and it was possible that Bridget Lynch from Stabbing might be filling in on vocals. We were all a bit sad but intrigued. Someone said, “It would be a shame yet a pleasure to see Bridget perform the entire set.” To our delight, Ricky fronted the band in both Seattle and Portland and gave us a little glimpse of what it might have been like by having Bridget join Ricky on stage for a song.
Suffocation keeps proving why they continue to be so revered and respected. They have a sheen about them that isn’t usual in brutal death metal. For the hour or so they performed they were a tidy (yet sweaty) machine. They played each song with extreme intensity, stepped backwards, took a breath, wiped their brow, turned back around to face the crowd, and went hard again, over and over.
A few members of the other bands joined me side stage on occasion just to watch them perform.
I looked back to 2003 and read some of the early reviews from metal sites and magazines and these three stuck with me and still hold true 20 years later:
“….benchmark for extreme music, as [they] sacrificed neither virtuosity or brutality, becoming a signpost for thousands who were still contemplating how to incorporate scalar runs, rapid-fire palm muting, and hummingbird wing quick picking into its riffs, while opening up rhythmic dimensions and the scope of the blast beat.”
“…Suffocation has spawned an entire metal subgenre: deathcore.”
“American death metal’s most consistent and punishing standard-bearers.”
After the show I connected back up with Charlie and saw something that made me love him and Suffocation even more:
Through the chain link fence that separated the public from the busses, fans lingered to meet the band. Each and every time someone approached Charlie, he took the time to give them his full attention, shaking their hand firmly as they congratulated him on the show. I witnessed the band being genuinely humble in the midst of their fans, and it was really cool to witness. As the fans dissipated, two men walked through the opening of the gate, surprising Charlie. It turned out they were old friends of his that he used to go to shows with back in the day, back home on the East Coast. It turns out they now lived in Portland.
Their entry was the perfect time for my exit, and I said goodbye.
Some bands you like to listen to. Some bands you like to see live. But with Suffocation you do both.
- Seraphim Enslavement
- Breeding the Spawn
- Dim Veil of Obscurity
- Pierced From Within
- Funeral Inception
- Perpetual Deception
- Bind Torture Kill
- Hymns From the Apocrypha
- Liege of Inveracity
- Infecting the Crypts
- Ricky Myers – vocals
- Terrance Hobbs – guitars
- Charlie Errigo – guitars
- Derek Boyer – bass
- Eric Morotti – drums