Whitechapel - February 24, 2011 - The Altar Bar, Pittsburgh, PA
By: Leon Mallah
The Pittsburgh date of the “Welcome to Hell Tour” was greeted with a rowdy, sold-out crowd on this fine Thursday evening. Amongst the mainly under-aged sea of flipped-to-the-side haircuts is yours truly, sporting a modest black hoodie and jeans alongside his cohort, who was clad mostly in tattoos and an Emperor t-shirt. Probably invoking numerous questions such as, “Who is Emperor?” or “Are they lost?” Fear not metal novices, your time will come. But I digress.
Show openers I Declare War and Chelsey Grin offered little entertainment in the form of their cookie-cutter deathcore. Honestly, we couldn’t decipher any lyrics or even differentiate songs, so we headed upstairs to the bar. From up here we caught our first glimpse of hope for the evening, Veil Of Maya. The Illinois-based outfit erupted into their set with pummeling ferocity. Opening up with “Crawl Back,” the crowd immediately reacted into a frenzy. The bands set was mostly comprised of material from 2008’s The Common Man’s Collapse, as well as “Unbreakable” and “Namaste” from 2010’s Id, before closing with fan-favorite “It’s Not Safe to Swim Tonight.”
Next up was the openly pissed-off The Acacia Strain, who proceeded to command this crowd of concertgoers into a game of stage diving onto peoples’ faces, which we enjoyed thoroughly. In fact, one exceptionally drunk young lad insisted on showing me the gaping whole in his lip he acquired during “The Hills Have Eyes.” These Massholes chugged their way through aggressive numbers “See You Next Tuesday” and “JFC” before closing with the ultra-heavy “Carbomb.” It was obvious by the end of their set that they should have headlined.
Finally after an extended intermission we were graced with the presence of a surprisingly tight Whitechapel. Dealing out his signature throat ripping vocals was monster frontman Phil Bozeman on songs “Reprogrammed To Hate” and “Murder Sermon.” We were disappointed by the latter track in which the studio version features The Acacia Strain’s Vincent Benett, but sadly he was not present for an onstage collaboration. Maybe he was just a bit tuckered out. [can’t believe you weren’t tuckered out at that time either – ed.]
The band trucked through its set mainly consisting of tracks from This Is Exile, including the encore song, “This Is Exile.” The said show closer apparently warranted a wall of death, which we did not partake in, but enthusiastically agreed with. It was an all out war at this point. Bodies flew every which way to the amusement of everyone not involved. Although Whitechapel’s tunes don’t necessarily tickle our fancy, they deserve a pat on the back for an awesome live spectacle…. and the wall of death.