FeaturesJune 12, 202315,079 views

Show Review: Decibel Magazine Tour 2023 in San Francisco

Dark Funeral, Cattle Decapitation, 200 Stab Wounds, and Blackbraid performed at The Regency Ballroom

Decibel Magazine Tour 2023

By Dylan Tarre

On June 9, 2023, the Decibel Magazine Tour rumbled its way into San Francisco, California after leaving a wake of destruction at 21 cities across the country; this show the second-to-last of the tour before its final stop in Los Angeles. The lineup, consisting of Dark Funeral, Cattle Decapitation, 200 Stab Wounds, and Blackbraid, showcased the type of extreme music that has made the Decibel brand so highly respected within the metal community. The lineup for the evening was a carefully curated blend of extreme metal sounds and varying levels of production, offering an interesting journey for the diehard metalheads in attendance. 

The Regency Ballroom, known for its neoclassical grandeur, proved to be an appropriate setting for the sonic assault that unfolded. With its towering ceilings, majestic chandeliers, and a built-in stage, the venue provided a reverent backdrop for the night's performances. Its boomy and echoey acoustics added an interesting dimension, enhancing the unique character of each band.

Kicking off the night was Blackbraid, whose performance was a journey into the realm of indigenous black metal. It was a miracle they even made it to the show in the first place, their van's transmission breaking down earlier that day, forcing them to fundraise for a rental to make it to the last two dates of the tour. It was evident that their absence would have been noticed if they had not made it to the final dates of the band's first nationwide tour. 

Taking the stage with an air of mystique, Blackbraid immediately drew the crowd into their atmospheric and spiritually infused world. The opening chords of "The Spirit Returns" reverberated through the venue, instantly setting the tone for the immersive experience that was about to unfold.

As the haunting melodies intertwined with thunderous drums, the audience was transported into a trance-like state. The band's ability to merge traditional black metal elements with indigenous influences created a sonic tapestry that was both ethereal and intense. Songs like "The River of Time Flows Through Me" and "Moss Covered Bones on the Altar of the Moon" showed the band's ability to craft intricate compositions that seamlessly blended raw aggression with haunting melodies in an otherworldly quality, evoking images of ancient rituals and spiritual awakenings.

The pounding drums and blistering guitars created a powerful backdrop for the impassioned vocals, as if channeling the spirits of their ancestors through their music. The performance was seemingly for many in the audience, a transcendent experience, leaving the crowd in awe of the band's ability to create such a deeply immersive atmosphere. Their performance was a testament to the power of black metal as a means of spiritual expression, pushing boundaries and embracing their indigenous roots. 

Placing their instruments at the forefront of the stage, 200 Stab Wounds wasted no time in unleashing an assault of slam metal. Playing songs like "Fatal Reality" and "Release the Stench," the set was relentless, displaying the band's aggressive sound and leaving the crowd gasping for breath. 

From the moment the first crushing chords of "Fatal Reality" reverberated through the venue, it was clear that 200 Stab Wounds meant business. The sheer intensity of their performance created an atmosphere of raw aggression, driving the crowd into a frenzy of headbanging and moshing. The band's unrelenting energy and precision were on full display as they tore through tracks like "Skin Milk," "Drilling Your Head," and "Tow Rope Around the Throat." Each song delivered bone-crushing riffs, thunderous drumming, and guttural vocals that cut through the air like a serrated blade.

Every track from 200 Stab Wounds was a brutal onslaught of pummeling rhythms and dissonant guitar work that seemed to ignite an inferno of chaos in the pit. There was barely a moment's rest as the crowd, captivated by the band's raw power, unleashed their pent-up aggression, resulting in a whirlwind of bodies colliding in a massive release of energy.

Throughout their set, 200 Stab Wounds exhibited a relentless drive. The visceral intensity of their performance and the unrelenting heaviness of their music satisfied the crowd's hunger for brutality, and they showed themselves to be a force to be reckoned with in the world of slam metal. It's no surprise that Metal Blade took notice of their talent earlier this year, signing them to a record contract.

Taking the stage next, Cattle Decapitation unleashed a sonic assault that drew heavily from their latest album, "Terrasite." The crowd was engulfed in a whirlwind of blistering guitars, rapid-fire drums, and bone-rattling bass drops. Their performance was exceptional, with clear and powerful delivery of each instrument and vocal line. The frontman, Travis Ryan, had a commanding stage presence and effortlessly transitioned between vocal ranges.

One cannot overlook the visual spectacle that accompanied Cattle Decapitation's performance. At times, vocalist Travis Ryan resembled a monster with the fountains of saliva he spewed into the air under backlit spotlights. Wind blew through Ryan's hair, evoking the essence of the creature depicted on the album cover, the stage became a dark and atmospheric landscape that enhanced the overall experience. It was a feast for the senses, with the music intertwining with the strobe light display and the heavy bass drops, creating a powerful and immersive performance.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of Cattle Decapitation's set though was the sheer intensity and emotional weight behind their music. Beyond the technicality and precision, there was a raw and palpable sense of urgency in each note. The band's lyrics, addressing environmental destruction and humanity's destructive tendencies, struck a chord with the audience, eliciting a mix of introspection and righteous anger.

Cattle Decapitation's performance was a testament to their status as pioneers of extreme metal. With their unparalleled musicianship, thought-provoking themes, and powerful stage presence, they delivered a set that was as captivating as it was emotionally charged. Their performance left a mark on the audience, solidifying their reputation as one of the most formidable and influential bands in the genre.

As Dark Funeral took the stage, an air of anticipation and reverence filled the venue. Diehard fans formed a devoted congregation near the barrier. Having graced the city only six months prior, their return drew a slightly smaller but no less enthusiastic crowd. Dark Funeral's set was a sinister display, evoking a sense of satanic devotion, including tracks like "Nosferatu," "Vobiscum Satanas," and the iconic "Nail Them to the Cross." The band's sound resonated through the ballroom, captivating all in its sinister grip.

The atmosphere during Dark Funeral's set was nothing short of mesmerizing. The stage was adorned with ritualistic props, and the backdrop featured haunting imagery that added to the occult ambiance. Chants of "Hail Satan" erupted from the crowd, creating an atmosphere akin to a diabolical congregation. 

What set Dark Funeral apart was their ability to maintain a tight grip on their audience's attention. The band's performance was punctuated by moments of intense showmanship, with the members pausing mid-show for a drum fill while the other band members took a brief respite. This unexpected interlude only served to intensify the anticipation, as the audience eagerly awaited the next sonic onslaught

The rapid-fire tremolo picking, the thunderous double bass drums, and the venomous vocal delivery combined to create an atmosphere of unrelenting darkness. Each song felt like a demonic ritual, as the audience was consumed by the band's infernal presence. Dark Funeral had summoned the darkest depths of black metal, and their infernal presence had left an indomitable mark on the night's proceedings.

The Decibel Magazine Tour in San Francisco was a night to remember, showcasing the diverse yet cohesive sounds of Blackbraid, 200 Stab Wounds, Cattle Decapitation, and Dark Funeral. The Regency Ballroom provided an ample church-like setting for the proceedings. The relentless blast beats that permeated each set were like a ceaseless hail of bullets from the depths of hell itself, as my eardrums have yet to recover from the assault.

The ongoing success of the Decibel Metal & Beer Festival, along with this tour, has further cemented Decibel's reputation as not only a magazine, but also a curator of exceptional metal experiences. Needless to say, if you find yourself near a Decibel event, do yourself a favor and go.


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anonymous 6/13/2023 9:27:13 AM

These pictures look terrible and I didn't read a word of this

anonymous 6/13/2023 1:45:26 PM

Literally reads like a high school book report so bad

anonymous 6/15/2023 3:19:38 PM

Figured these comments would be f*cked. Good write up

rick____tocchet 6/30/2023 4:19:19 PM

I went to this show. I was at bars pregaming and missed every band. Walked in on Dark Funeral and they f*cking killed it.

anonymous 7/11/2023 5:37:29 AM

Looks like a sausagefest. No woman will f*ck to this. I'll bet these dudes took a shit on the sidewalk.