Exhumed, now there is a band name which strikes fear into men and regret into plenty of lasses. These guys have been erupting eardrums since 1992 and watching them tear up the stage was a pleasure that I will not soon forget. Though they were third from the top on this particular evening they still stood out. Remember, this is the metal tour of the year, on the same night I saw Black Crown Initiate, Ringworm, Iron Reagan, Voivod and Napalm Death. If I still have profound memories of them, they’re clearly doing something right! But what is it that allows them to shine?
See, what I realized is that Exhumed succeed because they have an almost thrash metal side to them. When Matt Harvey sings, he is not a death metal vocalist, but rather a logical extension on a character like Zetro. Add in a man running onstage with a chainsaw (Part of the show, don’t worry) and a viscera spattered microwave (In homage to the legendary Gore Metal album art) and you have yourself a death metal show. Harvey’s thrashy anger is beautifully contrasted by the young and hungry Matt Slime. His bass work kept things exciting and his low destructive growls were truly impressive. Perhaps the highlight though was the fact that his mother and sister were standing in the front row, cheering him on. After all, Slime is a product of the Philadelphia scene, and this was his homecoming. There was a sense of resolution, as if Slime is proof that young people can come out of Philadelphia’s dungeons and rise up, masters of their own reality doomed to take on the world.
The highlight of the show though came on the final song, when the guillotine was brought out. Guitarist Bud Burk is taken prisoner by the chainsaw wielding man and decapitated, with a rivulet of blood shooting out, GWAR style. With Slime’s mother giggling “That’s so cute” I realized that my night was basically done. Sure Napalm Death and Voivod still had to play, but I had seen the legends in action and been given proof that young blood will forever invigorate the old guard. Exhumed, on this night at least, embodied what extreme metal is all about.