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Missing the entire set of the opening act due to interview commitments, Scottish/Dutch deathsters Cerebral Bore are first band of the evening for me. And what a great start to the night. Tight, heavy and armed with an abundance of killer songs, it's a pity their set time is only twenty minutes in length with Dutch frontwoman Simone "Som" Pluijmers asking towards the end if they have time for one or two more. The answer is evidently just one due to the night's tight schedule much to band and audience disappointment but leaving a crowd wanting more is no bad thing. And it's amusing to witness a few raised eyebrows and looks of astonishment when they realised Som is actually female, for there are few of her gender that can achieve such a gutturally effective delivery such as she does. Cerebral Bore impressed me hugely at the Earache Christmas party in 2010 and they impress me once more tonight. A band with a promising future in the extreme metal scene.
Thursday 15th March 2012
Academy 2 in Liverpool, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
I'd been wanting to check out Italian technical/prog-death metallers Sadist live for some time so their last minute addition to the bill as a replacement for Hate was more than welcome. And the wait has been more than worth it for the quartet are simply stunning. High level musicianship is rife throughout the band although it's multi-instrumentalist Tommy who impresses the most, particularly his dual guitar/keyboard antics. Hammering-on chords with complete precision and resonance with his left hand, his right plays some fairly intricate and virtuosic keyboard parts. Phenomenal! And virtuosity is the only way to describe the command he has over his fretboard with some technically accomplished lead work. Frontman Trevor, with his bulky stature, growls his way effectively over the prog-death sonics his band mates create with left-handed bassist Andy widdling away on his six string to the inventive beats of sticksman Alessio. And, most importantly, they have an amazing sound through the PA which is mightily impressive considering the ridiculously quick change-over times for all bands tonight. Sadist are nothing short of incredible so thank fuck Hate dropped off the tour. Thank you Hate!
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With this package tour featuring no less than six bands, it's a brave move for any promoter to take on, particularly with club venue curfews to abide by. However, on the eve of Hammerfest in Prestatyn, which perhaps partly explains the low turnout tonight, Suffocation and co. arrive in Liverpool, land of The Beatles and Super Lamb Banana. And with the plethora of death metal acts set to perform, stage times are restricted to a mere twenty minutes for some with Cattle Decapitation only afforded thirty and headliners Suffocation an hour. The night runs impressively to schedule with super-fast change-over times and only minor delays of just a minute or two here and there. As Black Stone Cherry perform simultaneously in the Academy's main hall, the quarter-full smaller 500 capacity room is occupied by those in search of something significantly more extreme...
Now here's a band I haven't seen on a stage for a while. My last encounter with Blood Red Throne was at Holland's Neurotic Deathfest in Tilburg some four years ago. And it seems there's been some drastic changes in their personnel since then as, apart from guitarist Død who remains from the original lineup, drummer Emil Wiksten and axeman Ivan Gujic only joined in 2010, and bassist Ole Bent Madsen and vocalist Yngve Bolt Christiansen came into the fold last year. Disappointingly, gone is virtuoso bass player Erlend Caspersen and founding member Tchort of one-time Emperor and Green Carnation fame. To be honest, having been a fan of their previous incarnation, I approach this latest lineup with caution. However, I needn't have worried as they're every bit as hard hitting and efficaciously heavy in 2012 as they've ever been. Tight and precise in their delivery, the Norwegians' sound is an intense wall of sonic brutality and with a concomitant onstage energy. Frontman Christiansen windmills over instrumental passages and he's obviously feeling the heat of the venue because to say he's rather sweaty would only begin to describe the spray that showers from his hair (with all photographers, myself included, in the photopit constantly having to wipe his perspiry emission from tainted lenses). Sweaty discharges aside, Blood Red Throne maintain the high level of quality death on offer in Liverpool tonight.
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Fresh out of the studio after recording forthcoming new album 'Monolith of Inhumanity', Cattle Decapitation look like they mean business from the off tonight and wow the Academy's audience with some of the heaviest and sonically merciless death of the evening. And it seems they're eager for audiences to hear the latest material as that's what forms the majority of their set. They commence with new track 'The Carbon Stampede', swiftly followed by another newbie, 'Dead Set on Suicide'. It's always hard to make comparative judgements between band's different material in the context of a live performance as the all the songs they play tonight, both old (just a couple - 'Regret and the Grave' and ' Testicular Manslaughter') and new, sound bludgeoningly heavy through the PA but, dare I say, the newer material has a distinctly heavier edge. 'Forced Gender Reassignment', 'Your Disposal' and set closer 'A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat' are also aired from the forthcoming new release and all tracks are well received at their climax with loud cheers and applause by what's a rather polite crowd of death metal fans who generally choose to stand and observe rather than participate in any kind of intense pits that would usually be engendered by music of this ilk. I'm sure some are disappointed by Cattle Decapitation's minimal inclusion of older songs but, for me, their set tonight is a tantalising taster and preview of what sounds like it'll be their best album to date. Roll on May!
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With the Academy's audience already spoilt with a bill of high quality death, the legendary Suffocation take to the stage to close the evening and most of those who were previously stood by the venue's sides now occupy the space at the front. Evidently the extreme metal New Yorkers are the most eagerly anticipated band of the night. And they justify their headline status with an hour's performance of flawlessly executed tracks drawn primarily from their early albums so the feeling is that of a 'greatest hits' set. For those who weren't already aware previous to this evening, it must've been something of a surprise to see Decrepit Birth's Bill Robinson assume vocal duties instead of founding member and longtime vocalist Frank Mullen. However, Mullen's absence from this run of shows, while somewhat disappointing, affords fans a rare opportunity to witness the band in action with this stand-in frontman and, to be frank (pun intended), Robinson does a mightily impressive job filling in, looking and sounding like he's been part of the band for years rather than just a few days. And he cheekily opts to advertise his day-job band, attired as he is in a Decrepit Birth t-shirt (and why not!). The permanent change in Suffocation's personnel though is the return of one-time drummer Dave Culross to replace Mike Smith who decided to quit earlier this year. Culross is rather incredible behind the kit tonight so the transition is seamless. Engendering by far the best crowd reaction of the evening, Suffocation close with debut album track 'Infecting the Crypts' to rapturous audience noise. With recent ridiculous internet rumours hinting towards an imminent split for the band, Suffocation's story is far from over and tonight they quash such inane gossip by letting their music and performance do the talking - they're evidently as enthusiastic as they've ever been and with a forthcoming new album due for release later in 2012, they look set to continue for many years to come.
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Blood Red Throne at the Academy 2, Liverpool, UK, 15th March 2012
Photograph copyright © 2012 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com