After waiting since 2020 and multiple reschedules, the Devastation on the Nation tour was finally on the road and decimating venues across the US and Canada. On Tuesday, May 17, the tour blew into Haltom City, a small city just north of Fort Worth, TX and blacked out the sun for a night full of black metal and death metal. Although the tour package had to revised, the replacements were more than capable of filling the shoes of the ones that could not make it.
Up first were the new comers from St. Louis, MO in Stormruler. These guys dropped a killer debut album in 2021 via Napalm Records named Under the Burning Eclipse. With a furious roar from the vocalist Jason (also from the band Bastard, who I reviewed earlier this year) the band ripped into their opening song “Reign of the Winged Duke” and had the crowd head banging and cheering almost immediately. They treated us to a few more off the debut album before treating the crowd to two new unreleased tracks and let me tell you, based off those two songs, the next album will be as heavy and ferocious as the debut. They closed their set with one more from the debut album called “Of Hollowed Souls and Distant Flame” and got the crowd even more worked up. What an excellent start to the show!
Next up were the blackened tech death quartet of Vale of Pnath. These guys put out one of my favorite EPs of 2019 called Accursed and I was total geared up to see them. Now fronted by Abigail Williams’ Ken Sorceron, the band came out to instrumental track that opens Accursed then straight into “The Darkest Gate” from Accursed. Ken belted out the lyrics with absolute precision and tenacity as Vance and Andy shredded the crowd with riff after riff and fill-in drummer Gabe (of The Kennedy Veil fame) pounded on the kit with fury. They too graced the crowd with a two new songs that sounded absolutely fantastic before closing with one more from Accursed that had the crowd head banging, cheering and throwing their horns in the air.
Next up was Ghost Bath from North Dakota. This five piece plays a more depressive/post black style of black metal. Dressed in all black with black makeup around their eyes, the band ripped into the opening song of their set called “Convince Me to Bleed” off their latest album Self Loather. Vocalist and lead guitarist Dennis put on an absolutely killer performance throughout the set with his double duty on guitar and screaming his heart out. I am always super impressed by vocalists who can play and sing during their live performances. The rest of the band was on point as well, as the other two guitarists played in perfectly with the leads, the bass provided the much needed low end to the tracks and the drummer kept everything moving along nicely. A very tight and professional band for sure. They ripped through five more tracks from the latest album which includes such tracks as “Shrines of Bone”, “Flickering Wicks of Black” and closer “Crystal Lattice”, all which had the crowd completely entranced and cheering after each track.
Abigail Williams was the next band up which meant double vocal duties for Ken Sorceron but he showed no effects from doing double duty for the whole tour so far. I have been a fan of Abigail Williams since their early days but was now finally getting to see them live. Opening with “I Will Depart” from the 2019 release Walk Beyond the Dark, the horns were in the air as the band began to play the opening notes. The band responded with absolutely nailing the eight-minute opener track to their set. The band played through more songs of Walk Beyond the Dark that had the crowd getting into the set more and more as it progressed. I believe they played a new song as well (forgive me for not remembering, it was a long day hahaha) before closing the set with “The Final Failure” which is an eleven-minute mammoth of track. All of these tracks from Walk Beyond sound absolutely massive live and had me and the rest of the crowd eating up every second. I will definitely be catching Abigail Williams live any time I get a chance to!
The next band up was Norway’s Borknagar and this tour was their first tour back in North America since 1999 and they brought out the best for this tour. The crowd was electric with anticipation while the band set up for their set and then erupted when the band started out with “The Fire That Burns” from their most recent release title The True North. The first pit of the night opened up and the crowd was even singing along with vocalists ICS Vortex and Lazare, both whom played the bass and keys, respectively. You could tell this was a long time coming for the majority of the crowd as people were recording video and taking loads of pictures throughout the set, with plenty of smiles and cheers as well. The band also played some older tracks such as “Oceans Rise” from their 1998 album The Archaic Course and “The Dawn of the End” from 1997’s The Olden Domain. True deep cuts that had the crowd in a frenzy. My favorite track by them that night was when they played “Voices”. The vocals on this track left me with goosebumps throughout the song. The crowd begged for one more song at the close of “Winter Thrice” as the band thanked the raucous crowd and threw picks and drum sticks to the lucky recipients.
To close out this absolutely killer night of metal were the Greek black metal titans, Rotting Christ. The Tolis brothers have been playing their style of Hellenic black metal since 1989 and are considered one of the biggest and best black metal bands in the world. As soon as the band stepped on to the stage, the crowd erupted and cheered as the band launched into their opening track of “666” to get the blasphemy under way at maximum levels. The pit roared to life and did not stop pretty much the whole set while the others head banged, cheered and chanted with the band. My first exposure to the band was the Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy album and was very excited when they played the majority of their songs from that one and 2016’s Rituals. The crowd and I were going completely nuts when they played “Elthe Kyrie” and “In Yumen-Xibalba”. There was plenty of older tracks as well. “King of a Stellar War” was a crowd favorite as well as “Fgmenth, Thy Gift”. They even played their Thou Art Lord cover “Societas Satanas” that had the pit on fire and everyone up at the barricade with me singing along with the band and banging their heads. After a brief break after “Grandis Spiritus Diavolos” for everyone to catch their breath, the band treated the crowd with two more old songs to close out the night. First was “The Sign of Evil Existence” and then came the epic “Non Serviam”, the slogan that Sakis Tolis always uses in addressing the followers of the band. The crowd and band gave it their all during the final two songs, feeding of each other’s energy. The band thanked the crowd numerous times, giving out handshakes, fist bumps and guitar picks to the fans close enough to the stage to receive one.
What a glorious night of metal! I am so glad that this tour finally got to happen after several years of having to be pushed back due to COVID. The spirit of metal was alive and well that night. Cheers to Dan DeFonce for getting this one done for the fans. A night us fans will never forget!
- The Metal Architect