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Devildriver/Suffocation - January 21, 2010 - Mr. Smalls Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA

By: David E. Gehlke

Suffocation opening for Devildriver. If all was well and just in this world we call metal, the New York death metal legends would be closing out the ceremonies for this evening and tour, but alas, sales figures rule the game. If we think on the positive side of the situation, perhaps Devildriver’s teen-infested fanbase could learn a thing or two from Suffocation.

Once past the initial shock and dismay, Blistering was able to settle into the crowded confines of Mr. Smalls Theatre to witness the closing moments of Thy Will Be Done’s set. The band’s mosh-infused thrash was amendable in the live setting, prompting a spare pit or two. Then again, the inclusion of Slayer’s “Raining Blood” basically begs for such things, even though it could be the most over-played cover in all of metal.

New Orleans’ Goatwhore were up next and are making the rounds in support of their excellent Carving Out the Eyes of God. Fronted by the always-in-motion Ben Falghoust, Goatwhore ripped through a set that relied heavily upon Carving..., along with cuts from Funeral Dirge For a Rotting Sun. Guitarist Sammy Duet manned the left side of the stage, scowling all the while laying down some devastating Celtic Frost-styled riffage, of which the growing throng gladly ate up.

Suffocation haven’t played Pittsburgh in like...forever, a fact singer Frank Mullen brought to everyone’s attention, thick New York accent and all. The man is a sight to behold onstage, as he spasmed and twitched throughout the band’s 60-minute set. New album Blood Oath got significant airplay, as did “Infecting the Crypts,” “Epitaph of the Credulous,” and the vastly underrated Pierced From Within.” Drummer Mike Smith (headband and all) held the rhythm, while guitarist Terrance Hobbs (who was parading some hot-looking before the band’s set) unleashed some of the chunkiest riffs this side of Cannibal Corpse. As tight of a death metal band as they come, Suffocation aren’t legends for nothing.

As for Devildriver, the packed house at Mr. Smalls was enthralled by Dez and co. for reasons unbeknownst to this scribe. One could make an argument they are above-average modern death/thrash, but when stacked up next to the real titans of the genre, Devildriver don't stand a chance. However, that didn’t stop the kids going nuts for “Bound by the Moon,” “End of the Line,” and “Pray for Villains.” There really is no accounting for taste anymore, eh?

As my fellow patron and yours truly departed, we made it a point to see how many people wearing Suffocation shirts or were of the death metal nature had stuck around. Everyone stayed...and went "Loco." Good lord.

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