May 25, 2024

New Fury Media

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Forever Deaf Fest 2024 celebrates death metal, from Midwest up-and-comers to seasoned vets

The Avondale Music Hall is a venue only a few minutes down the street from my old place in Avondale, and yet Chicago’s Forever Deaf Fest 2024 was my first foray at this venue. Forever Deaf Fest 2024 showcased a lineup of seven death metal bands, including some from the local scene. The fest was an ideal weekend event, based around championing mid-size metal acts.

 

Somehow, even after living literally down the street, I had never been to Avondale Music Hall. With this venue, I had no idea what to expect and I was unsure it was ready to hold the chaos that local metal bands usually summon. Walking in, I was pleased with the dedicated security checks, something that smaller venues usually don’t invest a ton in. There were two different bars, one serving drinks and one serving a few options from local joint Kuma’s Corner – and we didn’t have to wait longer than two minutes to get either. The stage area was pretty large and re-entry was allowed so overall I was pleased with the venue and had faith it would hold up for the night.

 

Kicking off the festival was Suncrvsher, a dynamic Chicago death metal band boasting raw, distinctive vocals and an electrifying DIY ethos. Antero, the band’s vocalist, immediately unleashed a surge of vibrant energy, utilizing every inch of the stage to ignite the crowd’s anticipation for a night filled with beautiful metal mayhem.

Without Waves, another Chicago local, grabbed my attention with a fun sound they call “post-metal jazz infused” that stood out amongst the primarily death metal sounds. Although their set kicked off with screeching breakouts and chunky rhythmic guitars, it quickly developed into fun melodic sounds. A few songs in, Without Waves started delivering slower, more interesting notes, detailed even down to the bass lines, and gave us heavy, calculated blows in contrast to the blast beats and fast tempo guitars. I noticed one of the guitarists using loops to layer onto his intricate sections – although my favorite part of this set was definitely the matching guitar slides between him and the vocalist. 

 

Taking the stage next was Indianapolis death metal band Flesher, declaring war with “WE ARE FLESHER. WEPLAY FUCKING DEATH METAL”. They left no room for any doubt, we knew our shit was about to get rocked. With classic low tone growls, the venue began to truly fill out, backed by the glint of Flesher’s shiny red guitar. Jungle Rot stayed on their namesake’s theme with mic stands covered in vines and skeletal remains of previous concertgoers. Just kidding. I think. It became clear very quickly that this is a seasoned death metal group, which makes sense since they were birthed onto the Wisconsin metal scene in 1992. Single “A Call To Arms” launched the energy into high gear as vocalist/guitarist Dave Matrise and guitarist Geoff Bub swung their long hair around. Speaking of Dave Matrise (and trust me when I say this is a COMPLIMENT) – the guy is perfect to lead a band with a themed set because he looks like a vampire from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Badass. It was right around the end of Jungle Rot’s intense set that someone in the crowd got hit in the face with such force, that blood went everywhere. The worst part is that the lights were still down, so when venue staff “mopped” up the blood, they failed to notice they just smeared it around instead. Talk about metal.

 

Grindcore/death metal band Earthburner continued the madness with the most people on stage that I saw all night – with Mitch Harris (clean vocals) running around yelling in between Devin Swank’s guttural screams. That can’t be an easy task for Harris, since the Lord of the Rings could have been filmed on Swank’s back. I may or may not have made the comment that bassist Tyler Affinito looks like Billy Corgan and was disappointed to learn that he was in fact, NOT Billy Corgan according to their website. What I wasn’t disappointed with, though, was the overall solid sound of Earthburner. The electrifying high-pitched vocals and contagious energy exuded by every member on stage kept the crowd entertained to say the least. Earthburner ignited the stage and delivered an explosive performance.

Atlanta’s noise/sludge rock outfit, Whores, shook things up with their chunky bass melodies and wild backing noises, offering a sound that diverged significantly from anything heard earlier in the best possible manner. They expertly wound down the sounds, without losing any energy and spirit. “Quitter’s Fight Song” featured really fun, totally different guitar lines that intertwined seamlessly without drowning each other out – and this seems to be their forte. 

The closer, Left To Die, features members that have been around the metal block, like Terry Butler (Obituary), Matt Harvey (Exhumed, Gruesome), Rick Rozz (Death), and Gus Rios (Gruesome). Boasting a “classic” death metal sound, their songs are sprinkled with metallic riffs that contain skill only honed by decades of experience. At this point, the room is beginning to split off to rock n’ roll bar Live Wire to the after show, featuring the band Thrust’s debut (with Luke of Suncrvsher) dressed in goofy costumes. Overall, Forever Deaf Fest 2024 was a successful celebration of death metal from upcoming bands and seasoned vets alike.

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