Obscura

support Spawn of Possession + Gorod + Exivious
author EW date 04/04/12 venue Underworld, London, UK

Four death metal bands of the technicality variety and with a different sound from each; not a bad way to enjoy one's Wednesday evening in a decidedly nippy springtime London.

Exivious

Dutch openers Exivious were a new entity to me with this show and surprised I was to see an entirely instrumental band operating on the perimeters of death metal, not a genre too commonly associated with such a style. Noting that Exivious operate on the borders of the genre is key as their style reminded part of the melodic flow of old Cynic melded with a post-metal aesthetic not unlike Isis or Bossk, the resultant half-hour being as engaging as could be expected in the circumstances. Led by some sublime soloing and lead work from main guitarist Tymon Kruidenier their songs moved between graceful sweeping melodies to harder more progressive rhythms all the while resting on the very jazz-influenced drumming of Yuma Van Eekelen which served to emphasise the true progressive-ness at the core of the band. Add in some thankful inter-song banter and you have a strong showing from a talented and the attention given by the faithful showed how it went down.

7

Gorod

Up next a band I positively reviewed a release of some while back now but whom have not crossed my radar since. In retrospect, this French act remind of Italians Gory Blister - two similar and technically dynamic bands who have written some decent songs for the genre but not backed these up with albums full of such solid material. It is fair to say that as a B-league tech death band Gorod do the business with heavy, structurally-sound songs filling their half hour set but the demand of making these songs memorable and lasting is a goal as yet attained. Still, tunes like "Programmers of Decline" are full of hooks and when the Underworld got going with the goading of engaging frontman Julien Deyres it's hard not to nod along in glee and be swept along with feel of a very uplifting death metal evening so far.

Spawn of Possession

That feeling of positivity which pervaded through Exivious' and Gorod's sets was swept away by the altogether more deathly Spawn of Possession, who themselves were no mere slouches in the technical department but were perhaps notable for being the only band of the night with a frontman in Dennis Röndum not keen on smiling and keeping up this happy atmosphere I personally was rather enjoying. Perhaps coincidentally, or perhaps that to these ears SoP were the most formulaic act of the night, their set was the least enjoyable of the lot and saw the Swedes battle gainly with a majority of songs being reminiscent of not just one-another but similar in scope to death metal luminaries like Origin and Hate Eternal. Without doubt there is much to enjoy with Spawn as their songs flitter between varying tempos and directions in devastating fashion complimented with countless guitar leads, but with a static and uninteresting live performance to back this up it wasn't the Swedish treat that it might well have been.

Obscura

Continuing the European and technical theme were Germans Obscura here on their first headline performance in the UK and with a terrific set of material that showed just why it was they who were headliners of such a bill. The question of 'Who best carries the legacy of Death today?' has been brought to extra prominence recently with the proposed 'Death to All' tour in the works and based on this performance there is only one contender. Showing a willingness to diversify from the standard templates of the genre (see Spawn of Possession) to include different tempos, feels and structures in their songs, Obscura have paid attention to what makes Schuldiner & co so legendary to this day.

Perhaps the starkest demonstration of this is in how the technicality of the music here in the live setting never sounds forced, as "Vortex Omnivium", "The Anticosmic Overload" and "Ocean Gateways" among others display a refined sense of metal songwriting not always present in the genre at large. Combined with this is a solid stage performance - frontman Steffen Kummerer is the star of the show with great presence while his bandmates are more understated in their delivery but at least they don't look bored as half of SoP did.

No doubt sensing how I was intending to write this review the band came on after a brief encore to conclude the set with a crushing cover of Death's "Flesh And The Power It Holds" - a strange choice of cover yet one which was delivered impeccably. Having come on half an hour late due to amp problems it was by now 11.30 (very late for a British gig to finish) an an appropriate time to call the halt on a show where one band in particular laid their claim to becoming a death metal legend of the future.

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