Archive for the ‘Live Reviews’ Category

Ticking another off my ‘must see live’ list, New York death metal legends Suffocation came to one of the smallest and therefore best venue in Glasgow for a gig that was probably the best death metal gig I’ve been to since Decapitated years ago in Ivory Blacks. I’d read multiple posts about who was supposed to be supporting; some said Hammercult, some said Power Trip, so I made sure I was down early to find out. Turned out there was only the one support, but it was an excellent choice.

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Local heroes Scordatura was that support, whose death metal onslaught was precise, brutal and even managed to get a respectable pit going early on. They were an excellent choice because you can feel how much the headliners have influenced them. I have their awesome ‘Torment of the Weak’ record, and they threw in a  few new songs from their newest album ‘Self-Created Abyss’ that I haven’t got yet but will definitely pick up. Nuanced, chugging carnage.

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But Suffocation blew them out of the water. You’d expect that though, coming from these almost 30 year veterans. A devastating mixture of brutal slam and technical wizardry, their new material from this year’s ‘…of the Dark Light’ struck like bombs and while unlikely to receive as rapturous a reaction as the classics, led to streams of crowd surfing and as violent a pit as I’ve seen in years. ‘Liege of Inveracity’ and the fiery ‘Effigy of the Forgotten’ were the highlights closed by the staggering ‘Catatonia’ to send everyone home exhausted, sweat drenched and very very happy.

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The Lords of the Land festival in Glasgow has some serious issues to contend with this year. First of all, how was the lineup ever going to match last year’s Carcass/Obituary/Napalm Death/Voivod magic? And secondly the small matter of the Heavy Scotland event in Edinburgh on the same weekend, featuring Grave, Arch Enemy and Behemoth, as well as others. Well, the lineup proved to be as competitive, if not superior, as you could want. I mean, black metal and death metal legends colliding with thrash and even a bit of grind and doom. FUCK YEAH! The old Barrowland ballroom played host once again.

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Opening at the unbearable 12:30pm slot, Rotten Sound were fucking ace. The half hour slot is designed for grindcore bands, and Rotten Sound played to an impressively full Barrowlands considering the time of day. They were sharp, visceral and, best of all, allowed me the opportunity to get a hold of an HM-2 pedal tribute shirt. Killer start to the day, that only improved with the advent of Memoriam. Coming from a guy who named his blog and inspiration after a Bolt Thrower song,  I can honestly say that Memoriam are more than worthy successors to the crown. Karl Willets was in fine form, and massive riffs cascaded upon us lucky few. Willets remarked that this was a celebration of life through death metal, and nothing is more true.

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Next up was the hilarious vitality of Acid Reign, old school British thrash that felt so alive and vital it made me smile. So did the stage banter, with ‘Hello Edinburgh’ getting a particular chuckle. They were high energy, frontman H racing around the stage, encouraging all kinds of crowd participation and almost shitting himself when caught stagediving and taken to the back of the room before being ran forward and chucked back onto the stage. Mental. Mental is also how you would describe the aural waves of terrifying brutality emanating from Dragged into Sunlight, who took the stage behind clouds of smoke and a ghostly, huge candelabra. Their blackened sludgey noise was fearsome, and the fact that the band spent the whole show with their backs to us added to the esoteric mystery surroundng them.

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I took a break from the action during Venom Inc, so I couldn’t pass comment on them but I got back just in time for Marduk’s ‘Heaven Shall Burn’ set which, like every Marduk show, was full throttle black metal of war and darkness. Yet again I had the pleasure of getting ‘Accuser/Opposer’ with Nemtheanga live, and they closed with ‘Panzer Division Marduk’! Speaking of Primordial, they have become a band that have transcended beyond what we would consider simply ‘pagan black metal’, becoming the embodiment of what Bathory strode towards. Nemtheanga’s vocals command immediate attention, like a monstrous and apocalyptic preacher. The stunning ‘Babel’s Tower’ and the enthralling ‘The Coffin Ships’ were particular highlights in a flawless set of blackened doom grandeur.

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The stage darkens, smoke billows from under the drumkit and deep, blue lights shroud the oncoming storm of black metal perfection that is Mayhem, and ‘De Mysteriis de Satanas’ complete. Worth the price of admission alone, the howling ‘Freezing Moon’ and savage ‘Pagan Fears’ remind you about how all black metal owes so much debt to this record. Atilla Csihar’s vocals sound like the voice of Satan himself, and draped in a black cloak and then as a demonic priest, he embodies the dark magic infusing each frozen riff. Hw can anyone follow this?

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Well, Autopsy with every vintage death metal riff ever just about managed. You don’t realise just how much they’ve influenced the genre, until you think about how every ‘old school’ death metal band basically stole everything fom them. Rabid fury crashes into sludgey, evil riffs while vomitous vocals spill from behind Chris Reifert’s drumkit. Despite the fact that we are approaching 11 hours into the day, I think that this was the best moment of the night. Tiredness overwheming us, the first time these legends have graced Scottish shores in 27 years mean that we were reinvigorated enough to show them our appreciation.What a fucking triumph.

A damp Thursday night in June saw me travel to Nice n Sleazys in Glasgow to see Legion of Andromeda, a band who did me the great honour a year or two ago of using one of my quotes from my Sleeping Shaman review on the front of their debut full length, ‘Iron Scorn’. So I wanted to go and support them on their live adventure!

First up though, and my greatest revelation of the evening, were the superlative King Witch from Edinburgh. Despite being short a bassist due to illness, their powerful, soulful groove was mesmerising. Imagine the primal power of Conan or High on Fire but with female vocals. Speaking of the vocals, frontwoman Laura has the kind of voice I could spend the rest of my life listening to; a mix of Mount Salem and Grand Magus that set every song on fire. Awesome stuff, which sent me directly to the merch stand to get a shirt and an EP. Expect a review imminently.

Next up was the reason I was there initially, Legion of Andromeda. I thought they were uncomfortably dense on record, but nothing prepared me for their live performance. It was truly, painfully apocalyptic. An incessant strobe light pointed directly into the crowd made the experience even more of an endurance test, but their tar thick, dense assault is like staring into the maw of infinity and feeling your very veins vibrate. Translation: very loud but very good!

http://legionofandromeda.bandcamp.com/

Last but not least were Glasgow drone doom lords Ommadon, who played for a full 53 minutes without stopping once. If Legion of Andromeda were the black hole of infinity, then Ommadon are the immense beast of unfathomable decay that crawls out from that hole and destroys the universe. They were vast; wreathed in smoke and drenched in distortion, and their primal, Neolithic waves of riff rolled over us all. An earth shaking close to a great evening!

http://ommadon.bandcamp.com/

I am one of the biggest Blind Gurdian marks EVER. I waited almost 10 years after discovering them for the first time, and travelled to Slovenia to see them live for the first time. The German legends have NEVER played in Scotland in their 30 year existence, and you’re damn straight that the frankly too small QMU was packed for this momentous event.

But first, the tongue in cheek and fist raising power of homeland heroes Gloryhammer. As gloriously OTT as you’d expect, singalong anthems about undead unicorns assaulting Dundee and the like went down a stomr with the waiting crowd. My wonderful wife-to-be was hooked as soon as she saw she could get said zombie unicorns on a t-shirt. Safe to say, the band got two new fans tonight. The songs were great, the performance was full of energy, and they were the perfect opener.

But now, for the main course. Most bands would not stride onto stage before a rapturous welcome and break straight into a nine minute epic from their new record. But Blind Guardian don’t need to give a fuck what other bands would do. ‘The Ninth Wave’ and everything that followed was received like water in the desert. For a band that have been doing this for thirty plus years, Blind Guardian show no sign of slowing down. From modern favourites like ‘Fly’ through vintage prog classics like ‘Nightfall’ and the gloriously epic ‘Imaginations from the Other Side’, the Guardians of power metal majesty have no bad songs in their set.

We got ‘Majesty’ itself, a haunting rendition of ‘Lord of the Rings’, the speedy ‘A Journey Through the Dark’ and of course the iconic ‘Bards Song’, which raised hairs on the back of the neck. The crowd demanded ‘Valhalla’ and we got it. The crowd demanded ‘Mirror Mirror’ and we got it. In fact, I think this was the first time I’ve ever seen the traditional ‘one more tune’ chant actually result in one extra song at the end, a rocking ‘Barbara Ann’ to send us all home happy.

I didn’t think it would happen, at least not for a long time, but Blind Guardian unseated last year’s Judas Priest concert as the best live show I’ve ever been too. A spell binding example of how metal can galvanise, inspire, empower and thrill to the last. You might have told us repeatedly we were amazing Hansi, but we were nothing compared with you.

Let me preface this review by saying that I went to this gig for Immolation, not for Marduk. It’s not that I am not a big fan of the black metal war machine, but I originally bought a ticket on the fact that Immolation were playing, not realising who the headliner was. The fact that Marduk and Origin turned out to also be on the bill was a bonus! I was to be reminded what a potent live act Marduk were this warm night in Glasgow.

But first, Origin. Due to traffic issues, I had missed first band Bio-Cancer which I was disappointed by but I heard good things so I’ll look them up in the next few days. Origin are a band I don’t know a lot of stuff by, but they did play a number of tracks from the album I do have, ‘The Antithesis’. They were brutally tight, and technically dazzling, particularly during the devastating ‘Wrath of Vishnu’. Frontman Jason Keyser was insistent on getting a pit going, and even invoked a black metal vs death metal Wall of Death at the end. Short but brutally sweet.

Immolation are one of those bands that, like Incantation, I’ve never had the chance to see live until this year. I’ve been on a bit of a quest to see bands I’ve not had a chance to before this year, and Immolation were rather high on that list. Their brand of dense, holy fucking shit heaviness was muchly appreciated, and they brought a range of material from the vintage ‘Father You’re Not a Father’ to the crushing ‘Echoes of Despair’ and the title track to their last record, ‘Kingdom of Conspiracy’. Ross Dolan assures us that a new record is coming in November, which means hopefully we won’t have to wait another 9 years for them to return to Scotland. Unfathomably heavy death metal from these almost 30 year New York veterans.

Marduk reaffirmed for me last night just why I should’ve been more excited to see them again. Last time I saw them here was supporting the ‘Wormwood’ record with Anaal Nathrakh as support, and they were as devastating then as they are now, a furious fire breathing entity of hate and blasphemy. Shrouded in smoke, their savage classics like ‘Still Fucking Dead’ and ‘Panzer Division Marduk’ tore through the sea of horns raised before them. More modern cuts like the excellent ‘Throne of Rats’ and the ripping ‘Wartheland’ from last year’s ‘Frontschwein’, a record I haven’t had a lot of time with yet, showcase the band’s primal rage and easily slot in amongst the classics. I went to this gig for Immolation, but I came home blasting Marduk in the car. Supreme, extreme majesty from all bands tonight!

Morgoth. Incantation. Two iconic bands in death metal and, particularly Incantation, two bands I have waited a long time to see live. Morgoth haven’t even played Scotland for 26 years. The last time they played here, I was 4 years old. FOUR! So when this awesome tour came around, the £16 I spent on a ticket was a ludicrous bargain. The venue was Audio, a tiny sweatbox in Glasgow, which mean you could get up close and personal with these killer acts.

My resolution for this year was twofold; make all efforts to see bands I had never seen before, and always be early enough for the support. The Killchain knows that support bands are not only the future headliners, but also need the financial and moral support to continue in their careers as musicians. Three unknowns for me kicked off with Swiss bruisers Omophagia. Their Origin-like assault was absolutely superb, and their dapper bloodstained suits gave that classy serial killer look. The venue was sparsely populated at this time, but those early birds like me witnessed a battering of supreme quality. CD purchased, and no regrets since!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up next were Italian death/thrashers Methedras, who were another excellent live act. Their blend of early Sepultura and more modern thrashers like Arsis was excellent, and damn could vocalist Tito Listorti get some serious growls. Guitarwork was stellar, and again the small crowd appreciated the work. I met Tito after their slot and showed my appreciation by making a purchase. They are just as excellent on record.

Unfortunately for the third support, Darkrise, I had run out of cash to support them, but don’t let that make you think they weren’t good. They were, despite some nagging vocal issues that led to Thibaud Ducrot being inaudible at points. Their technical death metal reeked of a latter day Cannibal Corpse influence, and it was a pummelling half hour set from them.

But now came the big guns. As good as the supports were, they were destroyed by the unfathomably heavy death metal of Incantation. It was simply crushing, and they featured classics from a range of albums, from ‘Diabolical Conquest’ to ‘Mortal Throne of Nazarene’, and including the devastating title track from ‘Vanquish in Vengeance’, they eeked out Morgoth as my band of the night, but only by a smidge. Disarming frontman John McEntee is one of the humblest musicians I’ve ever seen live, and seems genuinely happy that we were there to support old school death metal. We were John, we were!

And finally, Morgoth return after a vast absence to a Scottish stage. They were devastating too, their primeval death metal assault bringing to mind Obituary and Autopsy. Riffs were dense, the vocals were rabid and each song wrung the most evil of atmospheres from the riff. Morgoth are a criminally underappreciated band, whose classic records are as important to death metal’s future as they are to its history. As the gig wound down, there were less and less people there as trains were caught, or people left after Incantation. What a mistake. Miss that train, stay to the end and watch a legend return with a triumphant performance. I’m glad I stayed to the end, because Morgoth slayed.

Baroness have become a band that I’ve spent a lot of time with since their bus crash in 2012. I’d never seen them live until this night, and had only really got into them in a big way on ‘Yellow and Green’. I liked ‘Red Album’ and ‘Blue Record’, but ‘Yellow and Green’ was the point where they became a band that I REALLY wanted to see. Finally my time came this year, on the back of their stunning new record, ‘Purple’.

Unlike my normal self, I was too busy catching up with old friends and missed the support band which was a bummer. However I arrived just in time to get myself a Lemmy and a good spot for the moment when John Baizley and crew strode onto stage, triumphant in return. This was a truly transcendant set, with all facets of their expansive, progressive sludge doom coming to the fore at different times. There was the gloriously singalong ‘Shock Me’, the rumbling beauty of ‘March to the Sea’ and the grinding sludge pop of ‘Board Up the House’. Sure, there wasn’t a huge amount from ‘Red’ or ‘Blue’, but with the strength of material available to them, it almost doesn’t matter what they had played.

If you’ve never seen Baroness live, then you need to take this opportunity as soon as possible. By the end of the night, the band held the Garage in the palm of their hand, and each song was rapturously received. A band whose music is so painfully honest and emotional, Baroness were spellbinding, and certainly worth the wait.