Big Red Deathfest II
Nothing Lasts Forever, Funnel, Deuterenema, Inner Shadows, The Urination, and Bloodshed
at the JAM Community Room Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, Oct. 25, 1997

by: Brian Meloon
As the name implies, this was the second deathfest to be held on the campus of Cornell University in the past couple of years. This one was held in the JAM (Just About Music) Program House community room, which is a single room smaller than most bars, with no stage and no special lighting, located on the ground floor of a dorm. Admission was free, and the crowd was the usual mix of punks, hardcore-types, metalheads, and people who looked strangely yuppieish. The show started around 7:30pm and ran smoothly until about midnight. The band changes were very quick (around five minutes each) due to equipment sharing, and the sets were also short (around half an hour each). During Deuterenema's set, the crowd was at its peak with around 100 people in attendance, but that number had dwindled to about 30 by the time the show was over.

Nothing Lasts Forever started things off with an energetic performance. They played a short set of hardcore-influenced metal. Although the crowd was composed of only 60 people, the band frequently made forays out into the crowd in an attempt to get them to do more than stand around. Unfortunately, it didn't work. Still, it was a good performance.

Funnel was up next, and I knew this would be a bad set when they started with Metallica's "Seek and Destroy". Next up was KISS's "God of Thunder" (with a drum solo during which the drummer lost his stick), followed by two late 80s cliche-filled originals and closing with Iron Maiden's "The Trooper". Their performance was decent, though not impressive by any standards, and the singer's voice was not appropriate for any of the cover songs. He offered neither range nor aggression. Their mid-tempo songs did little to excite the crowd.

Deuterenema followed, and although their dyed-green hair and falling-down pants indicated hardcore, these guys were actually pretty metallic. They covered Slayer's "Seasons in the Abyss" and played four or five originals. Unfortunately, their (apparently new) singer had a tough time as he not only needed to bring lyric sheets up with him (not that we could make out any of the lyrics), but also his non-grunted vocal parts were inaudible. Either he hasn't learned to keep his voice at a consistent level when changing styles or there was a problem with his mic. Either way, the absence of vocals where there should have been some was distracting. Other than that, it was a good set, though not particularly memorable.

The best set of the evening was turned in by Inner Shadows, a.k.a. Ryan McCracken. Ryan went up on stage backed by only his drum machine. He played five songs: four originals and Fear Factory's "Martyr", which invoked the first real moshpit of the evening. The originals were very impressive (despite a few screw-ups), quite technical, and moderately complex death metal with some originality. In addition, the sound was mixed at a pleasant listening level. Since I didn't have high expectations, I was pleasantly surprised and quite impressed. I hope Ryan can find a backing band and continue to make progress.

The Urination played next. They set up with their drummer's back to the audience and the guitarist and bassist facing him (and us). These guys are very similar to A.C. (with songs titled "Song #1", "Song #2", etc.) and, thankfully, played only six songs. Hence, their set lasted only six minutes, which included the banter between songs. Luckily, that was just about the right length of time; any longer and the joke would have gotten old.

The most accomplished band there, Bloodshed, ended the show. They brought out their own drumset and amps, so there was a significant delay between their set and the previous one. These guys played moderately technical, but uneventful, death metal with original songs such as "Masticated Body Parts" and "Shed Blood". The drumming was good, but he would only occasionally do something that would catch my attention. I can't say too much bad about them, since they seemed to be competent, but I thought something was missing from their performance. Perhaps the audience was too tired to really get into the music. While there was a decent moshpit at the beginning of their set, by the middle, people had left along with most of the enthusiasm. In any case, they played a relatively short (eight song?) set, and the show was over.

All in all, it was an enjoyable evening with some surprises and a good deal of variety. With any luck, the Big Red Deathfest will become a fall tradition as I think this one was a definite success.

(article submitted 17/11/1997)

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