Dying Fetus

support Origin + Beneath the Massacre + Revocation
author EW date 27/04/10 venue Underworld, London, UK

If you're the kind of person who likes it fast, hard, and er, technical, then you most definitely wanted to be at one stop of this Thrash and Burn tour, which was to be found recently blasting it's way across Europe. With the London date surprisingly at the Underworld I couldn't pass up this chance to catch the excellent Dying Fetus up close and personal, bolstered by a strong supporting line-up, missing however Scottish bruisers Man Must Die who had pulled out following the departure of their guitarist Alan McFarland.

Revocation

Even at a gig such as this one where I did the unthinkable and queued to get in did I still manage to miss the opening of the openers, so to speak. As happens when a band start before most have even entered the venue and bought their first pint, Revocation's small early crowd gradually grew and grew as their funky Death-influenced technical death metal attack spread throughout the venue, drawing down people intrigued by the pleasantly listenable offerings on show. A review of their last album, Existence is Futile, went someway to preparing myself for what Revocation can offer in the live setting, but even that wasn't quite enough in comparison to the efficiency with which this three piece replicate their songs live. A clutter-free sound and technical prowess all-round helped Revocation to put on a sterling opening performance as their songs managed the rare distinction of sounding powerful and brutal yet positive and happy all at the same time. The feeling did arise at times that the technical wizardry spilt over into unnecessary technical wankery, where a tighter handling of the reins would make these Bostonians a more recommendable force, but for a band at this level their live show resulted in smiles aplenty, which with hindsight, were well-needed with what was to follow.

Beneath the Massacre

Granted, I've never properly listened to a Beneath the Massacre album from start to finish, but I'm going to lay much of the blame for my diminishing interested in technical/brutal DM these days at the door of these Canadians and their ilk. Before any of their fanboys get on their high horses and start ninja-chopping me in retribution, let's say this: I gave them a chance by watching their entire set and would happily recommend them if your thing is unremitting, devastating brutality. However, I would not recommend them if you like feeling in your music, as well as points of interest or anything resembling what I remember classic death metal to sound like. The problem with BtM and so many others like them is the need to satisfy the musical cravings of testosterone-fuelled, musically-ignorant hardcore kids for whom quality of music is measured not in quality of song but in sheer guttural brutality. With every song sounding exactly alike, no hooks, no interesting riffs, no evident compositional awareness, a monotone guttural vocalist and drums triggered to oblivion I did my honour as a reviewer by giving them the chance to impress me, but from the opinion of this writer at least I can only recommend Beneath the Massacre if you are still an angry 16-year old harbouring no hopes of meeting a suitable lady friend now or at any time in the neat future.

2

Origin

You could say BtM had achieved their objectives and got me well riled up, but probably not in the manner they intended. Thus as we moved onto Origin I quickly grew in excitement following 2008's Antithesis record; an album that like the previous band teetered on the fine line between gargantuan heaviosity and the creation of memorable songs, at least this time thankfully landing on the correct side of the fence as far as I'm concerned. Remembering what the band looked like from the "Finite" video of that album there seemed to have been great changes in the Origin ranks - baldy guitarist missing, baldy vocalist replaced by hairy vocalist and jelly-fingered bassist no longer hairy, but a baldy instead. The loss of one guitarist was however, if anything, a blessing for the performance of Origin as given the sheer speed and dynamics in their music anything else cluttering up the sound would not have been welcome. Playing a number of songs from "Antithesis" Origin were a tour de force of musical chops, especially in the case of bassist Mike Flores whose incredible bass-playing dexterity was a sight to behold, and quite a sound too on the occasions his instrument could be heard under the all-dominating guitar and drums. It's hard to avoid the feeling Origin's music is anything but a demonstrable exercise is raising every bar to 11 and seeing how far they can take the genre, often at the expense of reaching the pantheon DM's great names reside at, but you can't argue that they don't meet that charge head on. While Origin's performance gave something to be excited about again I was pretty sure performance levels could be raised much higher still by the night's headliners...

Dying Fetus

Following my declaration earlier of grand dissatisfation with most modern death metal offerings there are two bands that stand out from the pack, constantly releasing albums of great technical quality, but most importantly, songs with direction and identity: Nile and Dying Fetus. Nile aren't exactly lacking for plaudits and neither should the Fetus either, for theirs is a sound rich in hooks and instantly recognisable despite the hordes who have followed in their wake post-2000. Whereas previous acts tonight, and on most DM bills for that matter, peddle sets of mediocrity with perhaps a handful of songs at most standing out from the rest, DF's back catalogue has so much worth shouting about, not least from last year's fantastic "Descend Into Depravity". Songs such as "Praise The Lord", "One Shot, One Kill" and "Your Treachery Will Die With You" work excellently in the live environment, not being so fast you are left in a whirlwind of noise and devastation trying to make sense of what is going on. They exhibit a band who can write riffs that stand out from the pack and this performance exemplified that showing, explaining Fetus' positioning in the scene above other notable heavyweights like Origin themselves. Not ones to make a big fuss of being the big shots, John Gallagher and Sean Beasley lead the band quickly from song to song, allowing for plenty of stage divers to invade only at the insistence "they don't knock over our mic stands" and being totally at ease with the adulation coming their way.

With music as powerful as theirs there is little need for the most charismatic of frontmen, and with all three members working tirelessly to hammer out their music as accurately as possible it was left to Dying Fetus to show how modern death metal can still be made interesting and exciting 25 years after it's inception. I hope a few others can follow in their path, or otherwise, do the decent thing and give up before they do too much shame to our beloved, brutal genre of music.

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