FeaturesApril 24, 20232,456 views

Lambgoat Goes To: Decibel Metal & Beer Fest Philly 2023

decibel metal & beer 2023

By Jake

There are festivals and then there are festivals. Decibel Magazine’s Metal & Beer Festival has been an institution for a while now, and with two per year - one in Philadelphia and one in Denver - the level of refinement that the festival has is pretty staggering. I was delighted to attend the Philly offering the weekend of April 14th and 15th (2023) for two days of metal, beer, merch, and a great group of fellow attendees. The lineup of bands this year was stacked with metal and hardcore acts across the genre spectrum, and there was plenty there to appeal to anyone who has any interest in extreme music.


Day one was loaded front to back with death metal greatness with Fargo, North Dakota’s Phobophilic kicking off the festival with their candy-sweet riffs, killer bass lines, and dominating stage presence. This is a band that has had plenty of upward momentum since their first demo back in 2017 which translated into a stellar debut Enveloping Absurdity which came out last year. Hopefully, this festival appearance will keep pushing this excellent band forward.

The next set crawled from the swamps of Florida to cast a spell of blackened doom on the attendees, and boy what a set it was. Worm’s blend of the murky and the mystical has been a fascination for a few years now and the addition of Philippe Tougas (Chthe’ilist, First Fragment, VoidCeremony) on guitar has taken them to a new level of shredded black metal. Seeing Tougas on stage plying his trade while bandleader and mastermind Phantomslaughter led the band through a set that spanned their discography was a real treat. Here’s to hoping that the band will put together a full tour soon so more can experience the evil firsthand.


The day carried on with a killer set from Undeath who kicked it off with “Rise from the Grave” from their latest album and, if you know the riff and groove that kicks off that track you know the crowd got right into it.  Alex Jones - the band’s vocalist - was clearly stoked to be playing there and the set as a whole was energetic and pristine.

Texas’ Frozen Soul got the crowd moving with their take on mid-tempo groovy death metal. Vocalist Chad Green expressed some heartfelt moments amid the chaos, and it wasn’t difficult to see just how hard the band has worked on perfecting their craft. And suffice it to say that the crowd was very into what Frozen Soul was laying down that night.

Mizmor - the second blackened doom act of the night - followed with scorching vocals and a hypnotic set that, while great, did feel like quite the shift from the two death metal bands that preceded them. That’s no slight to the band however, they killed it and they were certainly a band that I never expected to get to see on stage. Wins all around.

Gorguts. After a six-year absence from the stage, they were finally back. I was beyond stoked that they were the band to fill the mystery spot on the bill, and while there seemed to be some confusion among the press about what they would be playing, it ended up being a set comprised of songs from Considered Dead and Obscura. What an absolute treat. Seeing masters of tech death play some of their most memorable material with such precision and passion was something that will be tough to forget. Luc Lemay was beaming on stage and I don’t think I have ever seen the level of show from a bassist as Colin Marston was putting on. As aggressive as the music was, there was such a warm feeling in the room while they were on stage. I briefly spoke with Lemay after the show and that level of enthusiasm and kindness was still on full display.

After Gorguts, it was time for The Black Dahlia Murder, who were the apparent fan favorite of the night, and for good reason. The band - and the metal community as a whole - lost a great one when Trevor Strnad passed last year. The energy in the room was palpable when they arrived on stage and it seemed like everything got several orders of magnitude louder. Former guitarist turned frontman Brian Eschbach held down the vocal duties for their melodic death metal assault that felt like sonic warfare. It was a great day.


Between sets and after the day concluded meant it was time to roam the halls and check the merch tables With plenty to choose from in every direction you could look making the rounds was an easy task. Seeing metal luminaries from bands that weren’t even playing was also a fun game to play. I personally spotted Ross Dolan of Immolation, John Baizley and Gina Gleason from Baroness, and I know that Barney Greenway from Napalm Death was walking around the venue as well. 


Day two leaned more into the hardcore sensibilities of the attendees with Escuela Grind kicking things off with their furious on-stage presence and rabid death-grind-powerviolence. Fuming Mouth got on stage second and that buzzing guitar tone felt like home their entire show. The set felt a little short but all that did was leave me wanting more. It was great to see Mark Whelan back on stage after his recent medical crisis and he was another person who radiated kindness and coolness when I got to speak with him at their merch table later that night. All Out War picked up where Drowningman left off and got the crowd moving and shaking with their old-school metalcore grooves and the entire set rocked.


The personal highlight of the day for me was seeing Incantation play Diabolical Conquest. Much like TBDM from the night before, it wasn’t hard to notice just how excited people were to see this band play this album, and boy did it get loud. Watching one of the premiere death metal bands play one of their most celebrated works is always a treat, and seeing this act pull out material from 1998 and rip through it with ease was nothing short of impressive.


The night closed with two massive sets from Eyehategod and Suicidal Tendencies, and while they are on opposite ends of the spectrum stylistically, they were in their element and the crowd ate it right up. Eyehategod pulled out songs from their past and played their classic Take as Needed for Pain in full to an ecstatic crowd. The sludge masters hadn’t lost a step and Mike Williams’ paint-stripping vocals pierced the din song after song. Suicidal Tendencies, the crossover legends from Venice Beach closed out the night with a set from their 1983 self-titled debut. This set and mood epitomized what the festival was all about: having a good time. What a way to celebrate that album’s 40th year.

In terms of pure firepower, this is one of the best festivals I’ve attended in a while with great sets from great bands, great merch, some cool ancillary events and goings-on, and everyone had a grand old time for all indications. I can’t wait to see what the next lineup will be and just how much I can stretch my merch budget again.


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anonymous 39 days ago

Amazing wrap up Jake. Had a great time seeing you there and hopefully we all continue meeting up in the years to come. Donovan.

anonymous 39 days ago

Some f*cking guy really named his channel hood5six? lol on so many levels

anonymous 39 days ago

I also had a meetup with Donovan in the bathroom at this fest and hope to continue to meet him in years to cum.

anonymous 38 days ago

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rick____tocchet 36 days ago

I would of went if I was in Philly but I no longer live up there because it f*cking sucks.

anonymous 26 days ago

I'm game for a dick sandwich if anyone has one.

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