It becomes difficult to review live bands on the basis of one song, in this case Zebadiah Crowe. I arrived just in time to catch the close of their set, and unfortunately cannot really comment on them. Following act Artisian were a solid, if uninspiring blast of thick blackened death metal. It was not a bad performance per se, but they fell victim of being support to acts that 99% of the occupants of the venue came to see. Bassist Mørktår and guitarist/vocalist Møløch make a solid pairing; the former looking scarily young, and the savage rasp of the latter making their less exciting material become more palatable. One possibly to look out for.
Brummie extreme maniacs Anaal Nathrakh are completely insane on record, but totally unhinged live. Amiable frontman V.I.T.R.I.O.L. jumps around, flailing arms and shrieks the most unholy noises you can possibly imagine, while Mick Kenney and the rest of the band go hell for leather at their instruments. Its difficult to fully describe the sheer intensity to someone who has never seen the band live. Tracks like ‘The Final Absolution’, ‘The Destroying Angel’ and the titanic ‘Do Not Speak’ send the fans crazy, which Anaal lap up. With directions to the bouncers to ‘let the people do whatever the hell they want, if they break my neck, thats my fault not yours’, the place comes to pieces under the sheer weight of the performance. Imagine Emperor wrestling with Pig Destroyer. Then times that by ten. Then you have Anaal Nathrakh.
Marduk have a seriously tough act to follow. But they manage it, just. Marduk are renowned for the sheer force of their music; enschewing dynamics, song writing and any hint of melody for pure blitzkrieg attack. Well, until these last two albums at least. ‘Rom 5:12′ and ‘Wormwood’ have shown a more misanthropic bent to song writing that is beginning to branch out into less direct attack. But their live show is still awe inspiring vicious. Moments between songs are welcome to catch your breath again before another frost bitten battering ram takes your head off. It’s a stunning exercise in malevolence and intensity. Closing with a guest appearance from Primordial’s Alan Nemtheanga for ‘Accuser/Opposer’, Marduk have provided more evidence that they are one of black metal’s staunchiest pillars. The black metal war machine rolls on…
The return of Decapitated to the death metal scene is a more than welcome, especially since the hiatus was caused by the death of one member and the severe injury of another. It has been almost 4 years since the Polish masters last devastated us with ‘Organic Hallucinosis’, and tonight’s return is all the more poignant after they dedicate ‘Spheres of Madness’ to Vitek and Covan.
But openers Man Must Die were not ready to be just filler before the main act. The Glaswegians brutalised their way through a short set of hard hitting death metal, coupled with hilarious stage banter (‘Are you guys gonnie go mental or are ye gonnie stan’ there like yer havin’ tea wi’ yer granny?’). Man Must Die are unfortunately a pretty underrated band, and dealt with a slow start with consummate ease to have the sold out Ivory Blacks appreciating them fully by the end of the set. Hopefully their addition to the bill on Machine Head’s next appearance in Glasgow this month will open them to a wider audience.
Kataklysm were up next, the Canadians laying waste to the pogo-ing masses with their slick, refined death metal assault. Kataklysm brought groove to the precedings, allowing the circle pit to get properly started. Tracks like ‘The Vultures are Watching’ and ‘Crippled and Broken’ went down a treat with a seemingly endless supply of stage diving fans, including one little red haired girl who took off from a speaker and disappeared within the swelling mass of bodies, never to be seen again.
Finally, Decapitated took the stage and were overwhelming by a roar of praise and adulation. What followed was one of the most impressive shows I’ve seen in a number of gigs; a maelstorm of tech death wizardry backed by pure passion and answered by the place going crazy. The pit grew in size, velocity and violence, with stage divers grabbing the overhead beams and swinging out onto the crowd. Standout tracks ‘Day 69′ and the aforementioned ‘Spheres of Madness’ were particularly impressive, but the whole set was a joy to behold, and it was so heartening to see the band overcome past adversities and rule just as hard as they ever did.
This was a performance I’d been looking forward to ever since I became a Morbid Angel fan. It is not often that you can come across what can be considered as a bona fide legend in the music world. The longevity, quality and influence of this band can never be underestimated, and Domination stands as one of my most treasured musical belongings. Arriving rather early by accident to the Garage, I got a chance to properly peruse a merch stand rather than running up at the end going, ‘I want XL in that one, ok you have none left, that one!’. A side note and not overly important to the gig but it was great to see a selection of 7 different designs of shirt, rather than the paltry two or three I am used to at concerts these days. Anyhoo, supporting act and local band Achren were a decent support, although yet another whose enthusiasm for the slot wasn’t matched by the crowd response. A shame really because they were solid and entertaining.
And so to Morbid Angel. What a performance. David Vincent is every bit a frontman, his witty banter between songs keeping the crowd entertained, such as imploring a young lady not to dive off the balcony because she was too pretty to die. He almost looks like an evil(er) verion of Gene Simmons, surely the only man who can still get away with a skin tight plasticy-leather black shirt with a big silver pentagram on the front, and the usual cliched remarks about how metal fans strength comes from within and it doesn’t matter what people think of you take on a new passion when spoken by an elder statesman of the genre. His performance was awesome, belching forth the classics: ‘Maze of Torment’, ‘Chapel of Ghouls’ and ‘Pain Defined’ were all dropped early in the set, and was followed almost by a greatest hits set, although disappointingly devoid of anything from Blessed are the Sick, which I felt was unfortunate. But it was a small disappointment, minature at best when the band created an effort like this. Tracks like ‘God of Emptiness’ and ‘Where the Slime Live’ take on a new level of malevolence in a live setting, Trey Azagthoth’s labyrinthine style of riffing creates such a frenzy that he doesn’t even need to head bang to create chaos in the pit. An excellent example of how quality musicianship is more important to a live performance than enthusiastic headbanging! Destructhor of Zyklon was an excellent second guitarist and Pete Sandoval’s drumming was simply phenomenal. How he doesn’t suffer from some form of muscle strain after every song astounds me. A rarely heard outing of ‘Bill Ur-sag’ from Formulas Fatal to the Flesh and a new track, ‘Nevermore’ from the upcoming album were also both warmly welcomed. The new track was particularly excellent, a lurching behemoth with a catchy refrain and reminscient of their slower, later work rather than the hurtling intensity of Altars of Madness.
The gig did end rather early for my liking, only an hour and a quarter or so after they first strode onto the stage, but Morbid Angel slayed tonight. If they can create yet another essential album and come back for a longer set, there’s going to be more than enough life in the old beast yet. Awesome