Show Review: Metal Alliance Tour 2016 at The Orpheum

The Metal Alliance Tour is a fan favorite tour that comes around once a year with a bill that’s always packed with great acts. In recent years we’ve seen the bill to be a good mix of metal subgenres, a good chunk of black/blackened metal, a very thrash-oriented lineup and more. This year we seem to have a very death metal related lineup with modern death metal legends Dying Fetus headlining. Support came from The Acacia Strain, Jungle Rot, Black Crown Initiate, and Systemhouse33. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend the Tampa, Florida date of The Metal Alliance Tour 2016 at The Orpheum. How did 2016’s show hold up to the history of The Metal Alliance Tour?

Opening the show was Tampa’s Nomadic. Nomadic is a five-piece death metal band that I’ve followed for quite some time. With a recently changed lineup and a new EP “Horror”, Nomadic is gaining further momentum to be a larger staple in the local Florida music scene. They played through their EP and I must say this is the best Nomadic material yet. Listeners hear riffs that draw influence from many subgenres of extreme metal from Fallujah to Behemoth, blistering fast blast beats and intricate fills, topped off with a wide range of vocals from soaring cleans to dirty gutturals and shrieks. With horror movie inspired lyrics, Nomadic has quite the formula going for themselves right now.

Following Nomadic was the openers of the tour package, Systemhouse33. Systemhouse33 is a four piece band from India that honestly isn’t quite easy to describe. They bring in so many influences its hard to determine a core sound. With this being my first exposure to the band, I would say I got a very thrash and groove oriented sound coming from them. They were really a fresh experience. I was impressed with their overall sound but what really caught me off guard was Systemhouse33’s bassist. He kept up with some of the quickest guitar riffs on his bass as if it was a guitar. Also, I would like to note Systemhouse33’s energy. Their live performance made it obvious why they got the opportunity to be a part of this tour. Certainly hope that the band enjoyed coming to America and hopefully they acquired many new fans!

Next up on the bill was the rapidly rising progressive death metal act Black Crown Initiate. I was very much looking forward to seeing BCI in a live setting due to their musicianship and sense of atmosphere. I got exactly what I expected and I mean that in a good way. Clean-cut musicianship, powerful growls and beautiful clean vocals, and an intriguing, melodic atmosphere that purely captivates the listener. Black Crown Initiate flawlessly zipped through a number of notable songs throughout their debut full length “The Wreckage of Stars” and even performed their most recent song “For Red Cloud” which will appear on the upcoming 2016 full length “Selves We Cannot Forgive”. The single sounds like Black Crown Initiate is heading in the right direction. Make sure you keep an eye on this band. They are going to be an important name in the future of progressive death metal.

Now, it was time for the groove from old school death metal veterans Jungle Rot. Jungle Rot is the epitome of what an old school death metal band playing today should be all about. Starting in the mid to late 1990s, Jungle Rot has kept through with their formula of headbanging riffs that really show what death metal is at its core. Their performance held their recordings to good standing as they nailed songs throughout their lengthy discography. It was really great to see Jungle Rot being enjoyed by each spectrum of the wide age range in the audience. In a day and age where metalheads are picky, it is always refreshing to see a band that seems to make everyone happy. If I had to sum up Jungle Rot’s performance in one word, it could only be: groove. Everyone who has seen them knows what I’m talking about.

Playing second to last was honestly kind of the odd man out of the tour. The Acacia Strain might have been a bit different for this tour, but I actually enjoyed the variety. Its very refreshing to have a mixed bill (this is also coming from someone who appreciates both hardcore influenced metal and “true” metal). With this being my second occasion that I’ve seen TAS live, I knew what to expect. TAS just knows how to have fun live and bring the heavy. Playing plenty of fan favorites, its easy to see why they have such a strong following live. Demolishing breakdowns and grooves accompanied with catchy lyrics that fans will always be shouting in Vincent’s face is what seeing The Acacia Strain live is all about.

Finally, the night closes with the one and only legends of modern brutal death metal: Dying Fetus. It was exciting to see DF for the first time in four years since I last saw them. This is a band you NEED to see live. Dying Fetus’ musicianship never fails to impress me on recording, but its ten times more astounding watching them cleanly nail every little detail from the drum fills to the guitar and bass sweeps to the vocal patterns. The only “mistake” (if you will) was when guitarist, John Gallagher, broke a string (and it was most likely out of his control). That tiny moment of confusion was no big deal by any means as Trey Williams did a quick little drum solo and the show was back on. Dying Fetus ended up choosing the perfect setlist for this tour. Not only did fans get to hear their favorites from DF’s seven full-length albums (there wasn’t a single song they didn’t perform that I wanted them to), they also performed a new song. So does that mean a new Dying Fetus album in the near future? I hope so. I also was lucky enough to briefly meet all the guys in Dying Fetus after the show and they were all really friendly dudes which is always a plus.

Overall, the 2016 edition of The Metal Alliance Tour was one of the better packages the tour has seen and kept the tour’s name in good standing. As of writing, the tour is on the last day in North Carolina. Hopefully you made it out to a date because it was definitely a fun time. If you missed the tour or it didn’t hit a city near you, make sure you check out any of the bands when they are touring near you! What did you think of this year’s Metal Alliance Tour?

Sean Beasley (Bass and vocals for Dying Fetus) and I after they finished their set


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