Buzzbin Nightclub in Canton, Ohio, was the site for one of the most extreme nights of pure metal to invade the state in a while. This is a mid-sized city that, only mere years ago, had nothing to offer in terms of nightlife. As Exhumed showed, this “purple” state was ready to rock, and not a single fan was let down.

Getting the madness underway was “Ton,” a very forceful band that, while fully subscribing to death metal's tendency to sing in such a guttural way that not a single word can be understood, while not bashful about bringing the rage. Local musician Ricky Racey was in attendance and he was quick to point out that the drummer really stood out in this Ohio-based powerhouse.

They woke the crowd up quite nicely and were driven by bassist/vocalist, Jeff Shepler as the frenzy began.

The architects of rage

Arkiak was next in the lineup and guitarist Greg Paulson was a treat that many left talking about in glowing terms. While singer Harvey of Exhumed would later claim that the music of the night wasn't “rocket science, but rock-n-roll,” he was somewhat proven wrong by this shredders musical prowess. Fellow guitarist Cris Portugal was also in fine form, but it was Paulson who really treads on the complicated fancies of Steve Vail in terms of complexity, at least when it came to some of the solo workings.

ARKAIK opened with “Paradigm” and it worked quite splendidly to keep the mosh pit that Ton had given birth to alive and growing. Paulson said the band was playing songs from all four of their Unique Leader Records releases.

The only downside to their performance was that, as is a hardship for many in this genre, the fearful mood created by dropping the tuning so low takes away much of guitar nuances of this band, which is a shame.

Up from the grave comes Exhumed

Headliners and California death metal legends Exhumed were next up. They have been making records since the height of the second wave of such bands like Obituary, Carcass, Pestilence, Vengeance Rising, and others were transforming the genre into what we know today. They debuted in 1991.

When asked what the band has been up to, Exhumed's singer/guitarist Matt Harvey said, “We did a record like four years ago, and the new one came out around...October? Yes. So, I don't know. It's just the same. You go to the van, you play a gig, and you go onto the next one.”

The newest addition to the Exhumed, at least live, and this ax master really stood out. I asked him how long it took him to learn all of the older music and what was most challenging. “The older stuff was easy,” he confessed, "because I'd already heard of these guys before.”

He added, “I grew up listening to this s**t and I had to do was put two and two together with the riffs, showing me how to play, they go this song...ok, cool.

Got it.”

“It's not Dream Theater,” teases Harvey, “we're playing rock-n-roll here.”

Yeah,” agreed they newest member. “So, it was pretty easy to pick up on, but it's still challenging me as a player and I really like that. I appreciated that Harvey gave me the opportunity to do this because I feel like I am starting to get back up to peak physical performance, like just playing again. I've been slacking.”

As the humble guitarist said this, other members of Exhumed laughed loudly. Bassist Ross Sewage teased, “peak performance,” but in a friendly manner.

“I have been slacking, sitting at home, smoking too much weed,” he admits. When I asked him, “is that possible,” he added, “Well, it's not possible, but I've tried” as those present laugh again.

In closing, I asked my favorite last question, “anyone in Exhumed can answer this...what questions have not even been asked of you guys that you are shocked that no one as posed?”

Harvey replied, “I would like someone to ask, 'would you like ten thousand dollars in untraceable bill right now...'”

“And would you?” I asked. “Of course, I would love to have ten thousand dollars in untraceable bills,” agreed both Harvey and NAME as the third round of laughter was heard. “This is serendipity, right now.”

Harvey then got serious and said, “We want someone to ask something that is relevant to what you are doing and show a level of interest. I've done a lot of interviews that some dudes publicist has lined up and those people are like, 'yeah, I like your publicist, so therefore I'll do this interview.'”

The Exhumed guitarist added grimly, “Great. You don't know who we are, you don't know what we are doing, so usually, we like someone who just digs a little bit deeper.”

This led me to ask what he felt the future of “good music” was since hip-hop and so many lackluster styles have taken over the radio. Harvey said, “I think rock has always been around, I mean, it has been around for 60 or 70 years at this point. It always goes through roller coasters and changes every generation, or whatever.”

He went on, “the one thing that I will say about it today, the internet and the easy access to the whole history of rock that kids have at their fingertips is that it has enabled a couple of generations, at this point, to really rediscover stuff from the '70s, '80s, even the '60s and everything else. So, I think rock is very early and will continue to linger around for a least a couple of decades longer than it should have.”

The last part of that statement shows the sense of humor that this band. Then again, when a band called “Exhumed” like questions that “dig deeper,” that goes without saying.