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Fleshgod Apocalypse’s meticulous death metal is cleanly executed and goes down well with tonight’s punters. The Behemoth-esque brutality is uncompromised by the technical prowess of these Italians. With the follow-up to their highly acclaimed debut ‘Oracles’ seeing release quite soon, the band grants the audience new music from this EP, ‘Mafia’. The music is formidable but the clean vocals are weakly executed and sound like someone who cannot sing has been forced to do so, truly detracting from the death metal experience. Fingers crossed that ‘Mafia’ is not entirely full with these clean vocals otherwise the band’s deserved success might falter. Fortunately, ‘Embodied Deception’ and the closing ‘Requiem in Si Minore’ remind the audience what Fleshgod Apocalypse should be remembered for.
Tuesday 30th March 2010
Camden Underworld in London, UK
If Italy is considered an obscure place for death metal bands to spawn from, how about Dubai? Dubai is the place of origin for Nervecell, the next band on stage. Frontman Rajeh Khazaal is eternally gracious at having the chance to play England, layering the audience with infinite compliments. Performing, it is clear that this is an honour for him as much as it is an honour to watch a metal band from such a far fled land playing in London. With one album under their belt featuring the drumming prowess of Psycroptic’s Dave Hayley (only as a session drummer, not a concrete part of the line up), the expectation is encouraging. Unfortunately, Nervecell’s death metal is laced with thrash and, like most death thrash metal, razor-sharp thrash moments are cancelled out by the blunt death metal components, birthing musical mush. Something that set them apart from the Western world would have been more compelling but perhaps putting overt Eastern influences in Asian bands is becoming clichéd in metal? Nonetheless, it would most probably go down better and make Nervecell more memorable. The real gem of the set is the brooding cover of Bolt Thrower’s ‘Where Next to Conquer’, obviously evoking the strongest reaction during the quartet’s performance.
Reviews by Elena Francis
There is something suspicious about the UK’s own Annotations of an Autopsy. The music of their debut album ‘Before the Throne of Infection’ is deathcore but their second album ‘II: The Reign of Darkness’ is straight-forward death metal. Did the band substitute genres on realising that deathcore is despised in death metal circles and they were not being taken seriously (the same can be asked of Carnifex and Job for a Cowboy)? If a band is to make such a transition, they could at least entertain the listener with something they haven’t heard countless times over. As such, their brand of mid-paced death metal is inessential and vapid with just the odd guitar riff of two worth perking ears up at. A sizeable portion of the front of the venue are clearly fans of the quintet and kick up a raucous atmosphere, which constructs a great distraction. The performance is very amateur and would have been insufferable if it were not for the waves of stage invaders, who frontman Steve Regan takes delight in body slamming them back into the audience “Ultimate Warrior style!” in his own words. The burly vocalist then requests people to come on stage and challenge him. Naturally, there are no shortages of compliant folks.
It is nice to have the direct contrast of a modern death metal band like Annotations of an Autopsy against a classic death metal act like Suffocation to see how far the subgenre has expanded. The godfathers of slam death metal (complete with Guy Marchais of Internal Bleeding and Pyrexia fame on guitar!) grace the stage with a hoist of vicious and emphatically rhythmic songs. Fortunately, Suffocation are one of those bands whose music sounds superior live than on record and this appears to be a universally stated opinion. ‘Pierced from Within’, ’Habitual Infamy’, ‘Thrones of Blood’, ‘Breeding the Spawn’ and the delectably crunchy ‘Catatonia’ are some of the putrefying anthems blasted out tonight and are all digested absorbedly by the frenetic fans. The more intricate later songs of the Americans’ career, such as ‘Cataclysmic Purification’ and the title track of ‘Blood Oath’, sit seamlessly into the performance and the band execute them with such venom that it is hard to think they were conceived only a year ago. Frontman Frank Mullen’s stage banter is incredibly entertaining, if not a little long-winded. His eagerness to involve the audience in the band’s family is endearing. Despite having such a prestigious place in metal, the band is anything but pretentious (the ‘Jaws’ riff is played between songs, with Frank commentating “That’s fucking Jaws! Don’t go in the water.”) Of course the centrepiece of the show is the arresting ‘Infecting the Crypts’, one of death metal’s most prized trophies. With slams that smash faces, resisting headbanging during this monster of a track is futile. Even after crossing the twenty years mark and most of the band members entering their forties, Suffocation are still relevant in today’s death metal world and put on a spellbinding live show that oozes infinite energy all while countless imitators spawn from their pioneering technical brutal death metal. Top marks.