Words: Alan Daly
Pictures: (C) Olga Kuzmenko \ Olga Kuzmenko Photography
I could never have imagined abstaining from live metal shows for anywhere near two whole years. But here I stand, at the doors of Dublin’s Opium venue, on the cusp of my first international tour gig since 2019. Stepping inside, I allow my consciousness a brief respite from the now too-familiar thoughts of war and pestilence. With public health restrictions finally eased, few face masks are to be seen in the crowded venue, aside from a minority still worn for the safety of loved ones, in the knowledge that Covid-19 is still lurking. Black t-shirts, indecipherable band logos, faded denim, sweaty revellers, the smell of spilled beer and a wall of sound, how I missed thee.
The house lights dim as American deathcore band Signs of the Swarm take to the stage, whipping the willing crowd into a frenzy. Frontman David Simonich calls for a circle pit to be opened and his wish is dutifully obeyed in the modest-sized floorspace. Well established, with no less than four albums under their belts, Signs of the Swarm seem to impress on their first visit to these shores. The pummelling rhythms and guttural vocals awaken a dormant primal urge to bang heads and raise fists. Offering a gift to us, the Pittsburghers deliver the debut performance of ‘The Collection’ on this tour. A guest appearance from Harbinger vocalist Dilan Alves tips the energy levels off the scale culminating in him stage diving into the welcoming crowd. As the seemingly short set draws to a close, Simonich admits his life goal is to come to Ireland and see an Irish bar fight. But despite their raucous performance, his dream is left unfulfilled as the excited audience save their energy for the long-awaited main event.
Celebrating their 25th anniversary, Decapitated return to Ireland with a brand new single and a much-anticipated album in the pipeline. The backdrop screen bears just the familiar band logo and the words “From pain to strength”, a mantra never more fitting for a group with more than their fair share of misfortune. Exploding onto the stage with the afore-mentioned single ‘Cancer Culture’, the Poles begin an aural assault that barely lets up during their extensive 16 song set. Frontman Rafa? “Rasta” Piotrowski wastes little time chit-chatting and focuses on growling out those abrasive lyrics and whipping those knee-length dreads into the crowd like a cruel master forcing participation. Thankfully, no corporal punishment is required to engage the front rows, and the mutual appreciation between band and fans is plain to see.
Being an anniversary show, we are of course treated to some early tracks like ‘Nine Steps’ from their debut album Winds of Creation, recorded in 1999, as well as recent favourites like ‘Kill The Cult’ from the most recent 2017 release Anticult, and much in between. In fact, all of their seven-album back catalogue is dutifully represented, and participation never wanes.
Both Rasta and founding guitarist Waclaw ‘Vogg’ Kieltyka do find time for genuinely humble and heart-felt thanks to the fans who have supported them through thick and thin and have been coming to see Decapitated playing live in Dublin since 2002. Two decades of Decapitated. Here’s to the next twenty years!
Check out ‘Cancer Culture’ video here:
And make sure to pick up the new album, also called ‘Cancer Culture’, released on May 27th 2022 on the Nuclear Blast label.
Carnival is Forever
Lying and Weak
The Blasphemous Psalm to the Dummy God Creation
Kill The Cult
Spheres of Madness
Tell Us How You Feel