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The task of opening up possibly the most hotly anticipated gig of the year on the UK death metal calendar is left in the hands of Bristol-based Trigger the Bloodshed. It seems like a waste of support, considering this band are added on to an endless line of extreme metal tours in the UK and their addition to this bill certainly frustrated many of the punters. Nonetheless, aggressive music is aggressive music and although the audience are fairly static by the start of their set, there is violent movement by its end. It is easy to differentiate between songs on the band’s two albums; the deathcore songs are obviously from their 2008 debut ‘Purgation’ whereas the standard death metal tracks must be from their 2009 full-length ‘The Great Depression’. It can only be assumed that the band dropped their metalcore elements due to deathcore’s multitudes of detractors and opted to pander towards something the death metal fan would be more likely to enjoy. However, there is no innovation and the music is horrendously mediocre (in both of the subgenres they emulate) plus the poor sound of the Koko desecrates matters further. Their stage presence is primarily kept alive by vocalist Jonny Bugan who rarely stands still but visually they are much like their music - lacking any compelling elements to sustain attention.
Thursday 29th October 2009
Koko in London, UK
Annotations of An Autopsy are frequently associated with Trigger the Bloodshed because they too are another widely-despised band that are added to countless UK death metal tours and people are tired of seeing them. Perhaps their appearance on what is probably any gig they want could be related to the threatening tough guy appearance of skinhead frontman Steve Regan. Their brutal death metal anthems are forgettable even when the poor venue sounds are take out of account - an amalgamation of Suffocation riffs with metalcore tendencies - but the entire line up seems to be giving it their all. While those heavily into death metal may be sick of them, having seen them more times than they can remember, those newer to death metal must enjoy them because the crowd are considerably more aggressive with more constant mosh pits and more fists punching the air than when Trigger the Bloodshed played. Alas, the indiscernible songs run into each other with the quintet obviously trying to be as brutal as possible but sounding generic because it has all been done before. After a few more plugs to buy the new album, the seemingly short set of Annotations of An Autopsy is over.
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Reviews by Elena Francis; Photography by Graham Hilling
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Finally, the original death metal commences! All of the members of the Maryland trio Dying Fetus are on stage soundchecking before their set begins. Opening with ‘Homicidal Retribution’ from the underwhelming ‘War of Attrition’, the audience spontaneously combust as the temperature leaps high off the thermometer and heads bang frenetically to the brutal death metal Dying Fetus are whipping out. Being the death metal band with the most unique yet accessible slam passages, these Americans’ music is perfect for the live setting. Deep-set grooves get heads pounding rhythmically and intricate; technical riffs scattered throughout their compositions steal attentions from mosh pits and crowd surfers and solos make their first appearance of the night in their set. The Koko is a venue synonymous with poor sound for every band that plays there but Dying Fetus’ sound rips through the venue mercilessly and perfectly, with each instrument heard clearly and the vocals layered flawlessly on top of the music without any insinuation of submergence. It is surprising that they only perform two tracks from their new album ‘Descend into Depravity’, the opener ‘Your Treachery Will Die With You’ and ‘Shepherd’s Commandment’, but it is certainly not a negative attribute, given this album appears to be a reduction of the sound Dying Fetus perfected in favour of a more conventional and thus mediocre slam death metal sound that bands like Devourment patented years prior. Quickly a reroute to the classic songs unfold and the audience is soon being force-fed ‘Grotesque Impalement’, ‘Killing on Adrenaline’ and ‘One Shot, One Kill’. Although the music is boundless and satisfyingly aggressive, Dying Fetus are completely deficient in a stage presence, probably because both bassist John Gallagher and guitarist Sean Beasley are tied down to vocal duties and straying away from the microphone stand is not an option. Clearly the band is missing old vocalist Vince Matthews who handled no other instrument. Watching them on stage when technical riffs are not being applied to the music becomes a fairly dull endeavour. Fortunately, the movement in the audience substitutes the lack of movement on stage and the intensity of ‘Skull Fucked’ and the brief ‘Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog’ lets the missing stage presence issue slide by. The end approaches when Dying Fetus pull out one of their strongest numbers in their musical inventory, ‘Praise the Lord (Opium for the Masses)’, which bounces along in the most aggressive fashion, crushing the audience. Literally.
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But those who sustained injuries from Dying Fetus would be half the size by the close of Cannibal Corpse’s set. Having oddly supported Finnish power metallers Children of Bodom earlier in the year and undoubtedly converting new fans, the death metal veterans have sold out the Koko tonight. With the vast majority of the audience obviously being more familiar with Cannibal Corpse than any of the supports and the alcohol setting in, painful violence is an expected side order of the show. Waves of crowd surfers are evident as soon as the band takes the stage, opening with the mid-paced self-titled track from their latest gore-drenched offering ‘Evisceration Plague’. Frontman Corpsegrinder stands like an indestructible wall in the centre of the stage for the show’s entire duration growling with full-vocal capacity and range, taking the opportunity to windmill at an incredible speed when his vocals are not immediately required. Beside the headbanging and windmilling, not much else appears to be happening on stage but the fans are too occupied with trying to stay alive to care. Unfortunately, the poor sound of the Koko bites into Cannibal Corpse’s music with Alex Webster’s bass work barely audible and the unintentional, blurry wall-of-noise sound staining the quality of the music. The setlist is the usual gamut of Cannibal Corpse favourites (fortunately not determined by the level of vulgarity of song title) from their entire twenty plus year discography including the stern ‘Death Walking Terror’, the galloping ‘Sentenced to Burn’ and the non-Corpsegrinder song ‘Fucked with a Knife’. The rhythmic and foreboding ‘I Cum Blood’ is introduced brazenly by Corpsegrinder as “This is a song about pissing blood out of your cock,” (which he has been introducing in such a way at least since 2000, along with some of the other songs on this setlist) whereas the slightly more subtle “This song is for all the sluts out there” leads into ‘Priests of Sodom’. But the song that most of the audience is waiting for is ‘Hammer Smashed Face’, possibly the most well-known death metal song ever with its catchy and unforgettable melodic riffs. And those who felt like their appetite was not totally satiated by then, which appears to be most of the audience, are treated to the insistent staple ‘Stripped, Raped and Strangled’. There is no walk-off-stage-and-return encore moment for Cannibal Corpse - just a relentless and unmerciful onslaught with no time to breathe. Although this is not one of the finer Cannibal Corpse live shows experienced, the death metal legends topped everyone else on the bill superlatively and have proven to all why they are the most popular death metal band ever. Tonight is a great illustration of, to cite thrash titans Exodus, “good friendly violent fun.”
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