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Earache Records love their retro metal bands (Evile, Gama Bomb, Bonded By Blood, White Wizzard etc.) and Cauldron are no exception to this penchant. This Canadian trio play heavy metal completely influenced by NWoBHM groups of the past with a dose of extra heaviness. Saxon, Iron Maiden and Angelwitch are a few examples of direct references for Cauldron’s music. Visually too, the three-piece look the part with denim, skinny jeans and fringes suggesting they have access to a time machine, although admittedly, it is somewhat unusual to see such fresh-faced youngsters playing ‘old skool’ heavy metal. The music sounds surprisingly robust for a single guitar but conversely, vocalist Jason Decay’s vocals are quite thin and bland with his higher range coming across as particularly weak for a traditional metal band. There is minimal movement on the bare stage, especially with Decay occupied by vocals in addition to bass. Perhaps it would be a step in the right direction if the band were to get a vocalist and limit Decay to bass to add more energy to their live show. With Cauldron performing tracks off their sole album ‘Chained to the Nite’, the audience appear indifferent to their creations. Unsurprising, given their musical distance to Death Angel and Nevermore.
Tuesday 18th May 2010
Islington Academy in London, UK
What the audience lack in response to Cauldron, they make up for during Death Angel. The set kicks off with the explosive ‘Lord of Hate’ from the Bay Area thrashers’ overwhelming 2008 album ‘Killing Season’ (a release that puts countless modern thrash metal efforts to shame on its sheer amount of energy alone), evoking plenty of headbanging and audience vocal participation during the chorus. Mark Osegueda is a fantastic paradigm of a thrash metal frontman, barely remaining still at all. The other band members are frenetic, truly enjoying the pleasure of playing live. New-ish members, bassist Damien Sission and drummer Will Carroll, share Death Angel’s delight on stage and gel seamlessly into the line up. Considering the duration of Death Angel’s legacy, they are clearly a thrash metal act that has evaded the punishments of time and still perform with relentless vigour to promise a spectacular show. The group’s modern endeavours are just as feral as their younger days, with the odd quirky riff and brain-melting guitar solos not absent in their music, without adhering rigidly to ’80s thrash metal nostalgia. The setlist is rather pleasing for a support slot; ‘Evil Priest’, ‘Dethroned’, ‘Voracious Souls’, ‘Stop’ and ‘Seemingly Endless Time’ batter and appease the fans simultaneously, although the omission of any ‘Frolic Through the Park’ material is a compromise they have to come to terms with as a supporting act. Before launching into the magnificently sharp ‘Kill As One’, Osegueda dedicates the show to Bay Area promoter/manager Debbie Abono, who passed away the same day as Dio. Returning for an encore, Death Angel decide to treat the audience with a new song from their forth-coming album. The song is entitled ‘River of Rapture’ and is unmistakably Death Angel with fury inscribed all over it, a pleasing sampler of the band’s next full-length venture. Apparently, the primary reason for Death Angel reuniting in 2001 was because they missed the feeling of performing live. They may only have two original members in this incarnation but their live show alone is a premier reason for this classic act to continue toiling away. With the response of a headlining act, Death Angel really put plenty of pressure on Nevermore to deliver an equally entertaining set.
Reviews by Elena Francis
Apart from a festival appearance at Bloodstock Open Air in 2007, this concert marks Nevermore’s first show in England since 2006 (and even then, that was just a support slot for, bizarrely enough, Disturbed). What makes this exclusive UK date even more special is that the Seattle-based band have decided London to be the venue where they film the video for their song ‘Emptiness Unobstructed’ from their almost-released album ‘The Obsidian Conspiracy’, their first full-length in five years. As the band members come on stage one by one, they are greeted by wild screams of adoration from the eager fans. The quintet immediately launch into the emotive ‘Beyond Within’ from the sublime ‘Dreaming Neon Black’ album. Strikingly, it is a struggle to clearly hear the vocals of Warrel Dane due to the sheer number of devotees singing along to every line. The melodic introduction of ‘The River Dragon Has Come’ is met with passionate ovation and as the song surges into its heavier riffs, the fans grow equally as wild. The heaviness of the thrash riffs are crushing and translate marvellously into the live setting. ‘The Obsidian Conspiracy’ has been drastically delayed and is still not out yet. Nonetheless, the band plays a fair number of songs from the album, including ‘Your Poison Throne’ and ‘The Termination Proclamation’. “Damn Torrents!” was Dane’s response to those who knew all the lyrics (Nevermore fanatics are incredibly loyal; it must be stressed), thanks to the album’s inevitable leak online. ‘Emptiness Unobstructed’ is an amusing affair; Dane messes up the vocals, causing the band to play it live again for the music video, which no one is opposed to. However, again on the second attempt, Dane spoils the vocals. They should have played it one last time. Dane comes across as a down-to-earth individual, a far cry from the bitter and angst-ridden cynic Nevermore’s lyrics portray him as. ‘Dead Heart in a Dead World’ receives fair representation with ‘Inside Four Walls’ and the “tear jerker that even makes men in Deicide t-shirts cry” ‘The Heart Collector’, alongside the aforementioned ‘The River Dragon Has Come’. The lengthy ‘This Godless Endeavour’ is captivating all the way through and does not slow down the set in any way. It is a great pleasure to see Jeff Loomis playing so intricately in the flesh, pulling off solos with consummate ease. The balance between technical precision, aggressive raucousness and memorable melodies is achieved harmoniously with Nevermore as they stitch progressive and thrash metal together. Live guitarist Attila Voros looks very accomplished and comfortable with Nevermore’s guitar work. Dane’s unique vocals sound formidable and lined with the appropriate anger that makes them so memorable. Loomis works with backing vocals and obviously they are a step down from Dane’s harmonies on records but they fill the gaps aptly. After closer ‘The Obsidian Conspiracy’, the band return for an encore, by which all the fans have probably guessed is ‘Enemies of Reality’. The aggression of the song marks this the ideal way to close the show. With a twelve song setlist, it seems like Nevermore are not on for long enough and the absence of songs including ‘I, Voyager’, ‘Final Product’, ‘Narcosynthesis’, ‘Never Purify’ and a plethora of other ‘recent’ Nevermore anthems seem borderline criminal but this is coming from a Nevermore fan and this review is testament to how rabid they are. An excellent performance, made all the more great by the band’s promise to return towards the end of the year for a proper tour in support of ‘The Obsidian Conspiracy’.