Absu

support Impiety + Necronomicon
author EW date 12/04/12 venue Underworld, London, UK

At this same venue two-and-a-half years ago I attempted to catch my first live performance of a band I was massively into. (Un)fortunately proceedings turned out otherwise, so this past week was my redemption and a chance to witness American blackened thrashers Absu properly. Since then they have released what was a disappointing LP in "Abzu" but with their back-catalogue anything was possible.

Necronomicon

First act however, Canadians Necronomicon, made Absu's task seem easier with their set of hugely derivative and unchallenging blackened death metal that suggested only improvements could follow. Their look is part-Behemoth part-Dimmu Borgir and the music a melding of these elements with larger dollops of Morbid Angel and Immortal thrown in for good measure, all of which sounds good on paper until the lack of any distinguishing feature in their 30-minute set swiftly marks it as a non-event. Given the frequency with which average extreme metal acts are brought before me, at least frontman Rob Tremblay had the decency to display some personality in his inter-song speeches, which is one way of remembering a band if, as here, the over-exposure to blastbeats and mundane collection of riffs offers no opportunity for the music to do so. It's no way of judging great bands, but it is one way of separating out the also-rans which I'm sorry to say Necronomicon still are after 20 years hacking away at this game.

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Impiety

Like Necronomicon, Singaporeans Impiety have been banging the extreme metal drum for over 20 years now, but unlike their Canuck counterparts they have at least made a name for themselves in the deep world of the underground. Thanks to the unceasing dedication of bassist/vocalist Shyaithan around whom the remaining line-up is in constant turmoil, their viciously savage melding of black and death in an Angelcorpse template all brought to the boil is deserving of every extreme metal fans respect as shown in this support slot which was unfortunately hampered by technical problems. Marks cannot be awarded to Impiety for stage presence - guitarist Nizam Aziz faced sidewards for much of the show while neither he nor Shyaithan moved at all within songs - but the imposing frame of said bassist and the bludgeoning force of "Ravage & Conquer" and "Legacy of Savagery" do well to fill the gaps left by their performers. Despite the hold up mid-set due to amp problems Impiety had no problem in proceeding with devastating power - if only their stage demeanour could back-up their underground-to-the-core extreme brew.

Absu

And then to Texans Absu, the act for which all in a decidedly spacey Underworld had come to see. Theirs has been a gradual transformation from the poorly-produced death metal of the earlier era to the clinical black/thrash of recent albums with everyone seemingly holding a different style, or album, as personal favourite. Personally it is 2001's "Tara" which is my stand-out but with interests also in both their earlier raw and latter clean(er) songs, it was nice of them to oblige us a set covering all types. After opening in questionable form with "Apzu" it was not long before recent tracks "Earth Ripper" and "Night Fire Canonization" were aired, following by fan favourite "Swords and Leather" and a fine "Tara"-trio: "Pillars of Mercy", "Manannán" and "Four Crossed Wands (Spell 181)".

For any drummer to hold vocal duties would usually draw an air of reservation but when one considers the dexterity and speed inherent within his own patterns it is a wonder Proscriptior manages to share an equal amount with his bassist Ezezu. Their presence was unfortunately lacking for much of the set, no doubt related to his own technical issues which took some time to be sorted late on, but his very colourful exhortations between songs more than made up for it in providing both humour and intrigue at the genuine depth of the words he screams from the back of the stage.

Considering the speed and complexity of their recent material which has essentially out-thrashed the majority of the retro thrash contingent, the clarity of the live performance was a total success and an affirmation of serious musical chops in it's three protagonists. This was another performance low on stage movement but the spellbinding aura behind much of Absu's material is a rare treat - as well as of course a great excuse to bang yer fuckin' head, heavy metal style.

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