4.6.12: Metal Alliance 2012

When the second annual Metal Alliance tour was announced I figured we were in for another beardo fest. For days I wondered which irrelevant 90’s metal band would headline, performing an almost 20 year old album in it’s entirety, with nothing new to promote. Then I wondered if I was up for lazily nodding my head to slow, sludgy/doomy jamz for 5 hours. I might dig that shit in my car, or at home, but it’s not always something I want to see live. Anyway, I was relieved the lineup revealed a complete change in direction. Instead of cred, the promoters went with the “maximum amount of dollars” route, which wasn’t a bad idea considering the lineup consisted of bands like 3 Inches of Blood, Job For a Cowboy, Dying Fetus, and Devildriver — bands known to make $$$ on tour, and can persistently bring the energy on any given night.

I missed opener Wretched due to showtime being at 5pm. Hell, I even missed most of Impending Doom, but our photographer managed to catch some pretty cool shots throughout their set which he described as “a waste of ear plugs cause the shit was so loud.”

Three Inches of Blood had the 3rd spot in the lineup. Too early if you ask me, but that didn’t change anything about their usually chaotic set. If anything, it was a good test to see if we’d be able to hang the rest of the night. That’s not to say the 3 Inches of Blood pit paled in comparison to the rest, because the 3IOB mosh pit is as frightening and uncomfortable as they come. Those in the pit area knew what they were in for as soon as “Leather Lord” started. A whirlwind of miscreants running in a counter-clockwise fashion, pumping fists and head banging almost simultaneously. It was almost as if there was a sense of choreography to it all, dictated by Cam Pipes and Co. After the excellent intro, we were led into “Deadly Sinners,” a staple of the 3IOB set. By then, the people that were outside shooting the shit decided to come inside, and make things worse. The somewhat organized pit turned into an all out brawl. Bodies hitting the floor (No Drowning Pool), beers being flung into the air, and even some weed being smoked casually in the middle of it all. I tried my best to grab at this community joint, but it wasn’t meant to be, as I fell countless times trying to “enlighten” myself. As we were tearing up the ground floor, 3 Inches of Blood were doing the same on stage. There aren’t too many bands that bring an energy like they do, and it’s mostly fun (as opposed to dark, or serious) energy that carries throughout whatever venue they’re playing. Three Inches of Blood might have reached their peak as performers. There was never a hiccup in the music, and Cam Pipes, astonishingly, is still able to hit those incredibly high notes after so many years of touring. As long as they’re still penning metal anthems like “Battles & Brotherhood,” and the usual set-closing “Goat Rider’s Horde,” I think we’ll be swilling beer, and knocking people in the mouth to 3 Inches of Blood material for a long time.

Job For a Cowboy came up next. I’ve seen them many times before, so I wasn’t too crazy about getting devoured by a swarm of people for 30 minutes. I grew to like this band a lot more as their career has progressed. They’ve separated themselves from the “core” scene, and they’ve stuck to a legit death metal sound a la Cannibal Corpse. I mostly recognized material from their album Ruination, but they also played some new material that sounded awesome. I was pretty relieved to be watching from afar because I was pretty beat up from… getting beat up in the 3 Inches of Blood pit. Plus, they’ve retained pretty much all their fans from their days as a deathcore band, and I saw lots of arm swinging, and karate kicking. I didn’t want to be a part of that.

Tech Death icons Dying Fetus came on after JFAC. I have to admit, I’m not really a fan of the Tech Death stuff, so I didn’t get too involved with watching Dying Fetus. They did have a legion of fans there willing to pummel each other in case pansies like me decided not to participate. The few times I did stop to pay attention, I was pretty impressed with the fact that only three guys are responsible for making so much noise. I’m proud that you only get that kind of musicianship from Metal.

The Faceless. Yeah, they played that night. I stood in confusion with my pals, and the majority of kids in the pit that didn’t know when to mosh, and went to pretend to air-bass. I don’t like the djenty sounding stuff that’s popular these days. These guys kinda fuse it with Death Metal, and I’m not into it. I don’t hate them for trying something new, though. I can appreciate that part. I would have to say that they were the least enjoyable of all the bands I watched.  The pit was weak, I’m not into the djent, and a friend pointed out that every few minutes someone was running over to a lap-top to cue up ambient noises between songs. I know these guys have tons of fans, but to play right before the headliner was kind of a shock to me. Still, I congratulate them on getting this far. I hope to understand what they’re all about some day.

Devildriver closed out the show. A friend who tagged along wanted to mosh during their set, so I obliged, not realizing that practically every misfit in Los Angeles County was on the floor area, waiting to intentionally hurt people. The mess started right as curtains raised, before a note of music was even played. I wish I knew more about these guys because they really brought it that night. Being in their mosh was painful, and a made me uneasy when I wasn’t breathing heavy in the middle of its harshest parts. I had a bit of claustrophobia when I was stuck in between people on the outer edges of the mosh pit. It only took two songs before I got my ass handed to me and retreated to the balcony area where it was safe. Despite not knowing any of their material, Devildriver did a perfect job to close out the Los Angeles stop of the show by pandering to the somewhat home-town crowd, and playing plenty of ear devastating jams for the misfits to kill each other to.

So, my time at Metal Alliance 2012 was well spent. I watched some awesome bands do their thing, moshed, had some beers, and didn’t once fold my arms in disapproval. I hope that the tour is doing well enough to continue into 2013, and beyond. I’m looking forward to see how dramatic of a change in lineup we have for next year. And now, pictures:

Impending Doom

3 Inches of Blood

Job For a Cowboy

Dying Fetus

The Faceless


 All photos by Internal Arts Photography.

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