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The Vault; Baltimore, MD; September 1, 2000

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Relapse Records, everyone's favorite extreme metal label, is making an annual habit of putting bands from their roster together for a late Summer package tour. This is the third year that Relapse artists have gathered under the Contamination banner to destroy pre-conceived notions and conventions of what extreme music can be.

This year's Contamination Tour provided a host of small changes to the line-up from night to night as Relapse artists would join the tour as their schedules permitted. Tonight's concert showcased five of Relapse's most diverse bands.

Already a venue that caters to a wide variety of musical styles The Vault had not yet seen the likes of the Contamination Tour. With its high stage, the Vault provides nice sight lines from every point in the room - The Vault is a fantastic place to see a show.

Burnt By The Sun, Relapse Records' newest band, is metalcore to the max.  Burnt By The Sun's no-nonsense set was enjoyable despite the fact that I'm not particularly a huge fan of metalcore nor was I even the least bit familiar with Burnt By The Sun's music. The standout track was "Pictures Of Me" which was a plea to let people be who they are without putting our expectations on them: cool thought, cool song. 

Origin, the self-proclaimed 'tornado from Kansas,' are new to the death/grind scene. Having heard the flexibility of the three-vocalist attack from their self-titled debut, I was very interested in seeing how these guys would execute it in the live setting. Mark, Paul, and Jeremy added huge dimensions with their unique voices. Not only does their technical brutality set them apart, their vocal versatility does wonders for their sound, too. The band was extraordinarily tight - if you are looking to get into the death/grind scene look no further than Origin. 

Cephalic Carnage's Rocky Mountain hydrogrind simply blew people away!  Combining the best of grindcore, jazzed up death metal, and harsh grooves Cephalic Carnage cut a swath of music intensity thick enough to block sunlight. Particularly noteworthy were Lenzig's broad vocal range - this is only one of many high-points for Cephalic Carnage's assault. "Hybrid," "Driven By Insanity," and "Paralyzed By Fear" were the songs that stood out for me this evening as guitarists Zac and Steve showed amazing dexterity and creativity. During "Paralyzed By Fear" bassist Jawsh ran through the crowd and formed his own little participatory mosh pit! And he never missed a beat! I cannot wait to see Cephalic Carnage again.

Exhumed, awash in their own brand of crazed entertainment, filled the room with gore metal at its finest and still managed to vomit, breathe fire, and soak themselves in blood! Yeah, it was a crazy mess, but these San Francisco Bay area die-hards gave everyone their money's worth. This was a performance that will not be easily forgotten.  "Vacant Grave," "A Lesson In Pathology," and "Forged In Fire (Formed In Flames)" were kick-ass songs which can all be found on their latest release "Slaughtercult." 

Deceased, purveyors of all that is good about old-school American death metal, rocked the house with a never-ending battle for metal supremacy!  Each time I see Deceased play a concert I am getting more and more drawn to their awesome power and purity. Amidst quite a few of their own tunes ("Thirteen Frightened Souls," "The Premonition," and "Feasting On Skulls" being particularly noteworthy), Deceased paid homage to Hirax ("Bombs Of Death"), Iron Maiden ("Wrathchild"), and Kreator ("Tormentor"). I always end up talking about vocalist/drummer King Fowley but it was high time I started taking notice of guitarists Mike Smith and Mark Adams - these guys shred! The names Smith and Adams might be a bit common, but there is nothing common about their timely, aggressive, and melodic six string fireworks. 

Hail to Paul of KSB Productions ( for bringing the Relapse Contamination Tour 2000 to Baltimore! Music has never hurt so good!

Hail to Jack and the rest of the crew at the Vault for being the coolest venue for hosting great shows!

Hail to everyone who traveled from far and wide to witness the spectacle that is the Relapse Contamination Tour! Special props to T.J. for being a great fan and a great supporter of all things metal. 

If you want a taste of the extreme, look no further than the bands represented on the Contamination Tour 2000.

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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:15 -0400.