Summer Slaughter 2010 is missing every attendee's favorite act: Suffocation. Bands on this year's fest made that pretty apparent when they played New York City's Irving Plaza on Aug. 1. The show included Vital Remains, Animals as Leaders, Carnifex, Decrepit Birth, Cephalic Carnage, Veil of Maya, the Red Chord, All Shall Perish, the Faceless and Decapitated. While All Shall Perish went as far as to say that Suffocation was/is their biggest inspiration, Decrepit Birth convinced fans to mosh and crowd surf because Suffocation's hometown isn't known for just standing around.

"Make these guys work for their money!" Decrepit Birth frontman Bill Robbinson said to fans regarding the row of security guards that lined up in front of the stage. In asking for crowd-surfing, Robbinson got it. Fans piled in three and four at a time, leaving security guards busier than they get paid to be. And some crowd-surfers whose arms could reach Robbinson earned 'Polarity,' the band's new and critically-acclaimed record. It has Death riffs and art by Dan Seagrave. What more can a death metaller lover ask for?

Justina Villanueva

"Gay. Black. White. It doesn't f---ing matter. We are human beings. This one goes out to all of us," Robbinson said in dedication to 'Symbiosis.'

Cephalic Carnage, who followed Decrepit Birth, are all about equality and humanity, too. But they have a completely different agenda than Decrepit Birth. "We come from the mountains, and we like to party!" frontman Lenzig Leal said after asking fans to share some 'herbal' tokes with the Denver-based grinders.

Usually the band takes video and pictures from the stage to find the best pit as they visit cities all over the world. Leal didn't have his camera this time around, though, so he couldn't document it. But this writer is sure New York won. He told the audience that they played Boston the night before. And you know no New Yorker ever wants to lose anything to Boston. Cephalic Carnage, like Decrepit Birth, also have a new record. Their sixth album, 'Misled by Certainty,' drops Aug. 31 via Relapse Records.

Even though Cephalic and Decrepit Birth shook up the crowd, Veil of Maya had the most roaring pit of the night. As if the breakdown dancing wasn't a sure sign, the band's 'V' logo shirts branded the pit.

The Red Chord -- now with former drummer Mike Justain back on the throne -- played a variety of material, not just songs from their latest album, 'Fed Through the Teeth Machine.' The Faceless didn't say much, but they didn't need to. Shirts and reactions proved that the Los Angeles-based metallers drew much of the crowd. The band has ruthlessly toured in support of 2008's 'Planetary Duality' -- and they even played it in full on their last U.S. venture.

The return of Decapitated has been grand enough to satisfy the touring festival, even without Necrophagist or Suffocation headlining this year. After a tragic van accident in 2007 -- that took the life of drummer Vitek, left vocalist Covan in a coma and devastated the underground metal world -- not many people assumed that the Polish death metal band would have reformed. But they did, and the Summer Slaughter festival has given fans new and old who missed Decapitated's previous tours a chance to see them.

Just a song or two in and the crowd spewed out a long and loud Vitek chant.

"I hope you guys aren't too tired," frontman Rafal Piotrowski said to the crowd.

After watching nine bands, the crowd and pit were still too stoked to be tired. You can catch Decapitated and the Summer Slaughter tour until Aug. 23, when it ends in San Francisco. And for everyone else who couldn't do the fest without Suffocation, the native New Yorkers will be touring this fall with the Faceless, Decrepit Birth and Fleshgod Apocalypse.

Justina Villanueva