Suffocation

support Origin + Re-Armed + Unbreakable Hatred + Slaughter Denial
author MST date 24/07/12 venue V58, Århus, DEN

On a sunny Tuesday in July, the death metal legends in Suffocation had come to visit a small venue in Århus called V58. With technical death metallers Origin as main support and three relatively unknown European bands in tow, an intimate night of brutal music was waiting for us as we approached the venue. Unfortunately for the die-hard Suffocation fans, Frank Mullen was unable to fill his role as vocalist for the band on their European tour, so a certain Bill Robinson of Decrepit Birth had been called in to replace him. Despite the small size of the venue, the death metal package on display was no where near sold out, and there were probably only around 20 people for the three support bands. I was there for all of them though, so without further ado let's get on with the reviews.

Slaughter Denial

The opening support band Slaughter Denial from Italy ascended the stage around 19:00 (7 PM). With only an EP and their debut album "Treachery" under their belt, the four Italians had their work cut out for them as support bands don't usually receive much love when playing in Denmark. Slaughter Denial play death/thrash metal with a single guitarist and a roaming vocalist whose vocals vary from growls to the kind of screams that thrash metal fans are accustomed to. The music was aggressive and except for an ever present echo in the vocal department, the sound was very good. Among the 20 people present for the performance there were a few who spent the entire gig headbanging, and a few others who nodded along. But the band's songs were far from memorable and they quickly started to sound exactly the same to me. On top of that, the vocalist was pretty much the only one who was active on stage, so my thoughts tended to wander off from time to time. And I should also note that the frontman's between-song banter was completely incoherent, and I'm pretty sure that he was actually speaking English but with a very, very thick accent. All in all it wasn't bad for an opening act but it was, nevertheless, very forgettable.

6

Unbreakable Hatred

Unbreakable Hatred from Canada were a more coherent bunch, but they were more interested in blasting the venue to pieces than in making us their new friends. Technical death metal with a touch of Misery Index came blasting from the speakers at great velocity as the trio played song after song jam packed with infectious riffs and technical solos. Once again, the sound was fantastic; everything was audible and sounded good, and the bass had been given just enough room in the soundscape to keep the music heavy during the only guitarist's technical solos. The bassist spent most of the time uttering growled vocals, but between lyrics he joined the rest of the band in delivering an energetic performance with headbanging, movement and general ferocity in playing their instruments. It was a very simple performance, but it definitely worked as made evident by the chanting for an encore after the band had played their last song. They were allowed to play an encore, but they chose to play the first song that they ever wrote, a song that was much less interesting than the rest of the set. Still, Unbreakable Hatred put on a good show in front of almost no one, and that awards them a solid grade.

Re-Armed

Bookending the trio of support bands were another death/thrash metal band. Re-Armed hail from Finland and have existed since 2001, but before their debut album "Worldwide Hypnotize" from this year they've only released demos. Being the first 5-man band of the night with 2 guitarists and a roaming vocalist sporting a semi-scream/shout, it was suddenly evident how small the stage was as those in the band who changed places had to squeeze past each other to do so. The music was energetic and definitely had more lasting value than Slaughter Denial had earlier. The band also tried a lot harder to connect with the crowd, but perhaps even a bit too hard: vocalist Jouni Matilainen tried to address the audience between songs but he was constantly interrupted by the bassist and one of the guitarists, which resulted in a mess of messages coming from the stage. When that was over, the band got back to playing their music and having a party on stage, the latter of which they're especially good at.

Origin

Since discovering 2008's "Antithesis, the American technical death metal juggernauts in Origin have been one of my favorite bands. 2011's "Entity" saw the band enlist a new vocalist in Jason Keyser (ex-Skinless), a man who can certainly fill the shoes left empty by former vocalist James Lee. But given the extremely technical nature of Origin's music, I was anxious to see what it would be like to behold in a live setting. As Origin started their set everything became utter chaos. To think that such extreme technicality is possible in a live setting is mind boggling, but to experience it is mind blowing.

The set list was completely orgasmic for a fan like me: naturally emphasis had been put on the "Entity" album with "Expulsion Of Fury", "Purgatory", "Saligia" and "Swarm" getting great response from the crowd, but we were also treated to "Finite", "Wrath Of Vishnu" and "The Aftermath" from "Antithesis" as well as the old classics, "Portal" and "Staring Into The Abyss".

Opening with the opening duo of "Expulsion Of Fury" and "Purgatory" from "Entity", Origin immediately blew me away completely. First of all, I was stationed in front of bassist Mike Flores whose fingers (all ten of them!) were constantly flailing up and down his instrument, and he even had energy to spare. A quick glance to the right provided vision of guitarist Paul Ryan who single-handedly churn out all the technical riffs and solos seemingly without breaking a sweat. Behind Keyser the human machine known as John Longstreth was constantly hammering away at his drumkit, also making it look like the easiest thing in the world. But most importantly, Jason Keyser is a fucking lunatic of a frontman. Besides uttering growled and screamed lyrics at immense speeds he would utilize every inch of the stage available to him and jump and headbang. Later on, he got tired of the small stage and the not exactly crowded area in front of the stage and decided to continue jumping around in the middle of everyone while screaming into our faces. But two stages weren't enough for Keyser, so the crowd carried him to the bar where a shot of Fernet Branca was waiting for him. He then spent the rest of the song standing on the bar. Later on, before playing "The Aftermath", Keyser arranged a silent Wall of Death, something I have never seen or even heard of: the Wall of Death started with a count of three, and Keyser refused to start the song before the moshing following the Wall of Death was acceptable. It took a couple of seconds, as 20 moshers (myself included) ran into each other in drunken fury.

After the show I was told that there were sound problems at times, especially for the guitars, but I didn't notice that at all. Sound problems or not, Origin put on the best death metal show that I have ever seen, period. May they return to Denmark many a time!

9

Suffocation

Origin may have been the band I came to see, but the death metal legends in Suffocation were the headliners nonetheless. Lead by Decrepit Birth vocalist Bill Robinson who has joined the band for their European tour because Frank Mullen had more important things to do, the band immediately made it clear that the night wasn't over yet. The venue was finally getting closer to its maximum capacity, and there were hands in the air all over the place. The absense of Frank Mullen isn't the only thing that's different about Suffocation nowadays: Dave Culross, who has previously been a part of Suffocation has been brought in to replace Mike Smith who left the band earlier this year.

Suffocation played their way through their discography to praise aplenty, and from where I was standing Bill Robinson seemed a great choice as a replacement for Frank Mullen, despite being extremely stoned. His deep growled vocals fit the music well, and he was very active and made sure to reach most of the front row audience and flail his long dreadlocks around. In fact, the only member of the band who wasn't active on stage was the bassist who had stationed himself in the back to make room for Robinson, probably because of the size of the stage. But Robinson didn't seem to mind, he even looked like he was enjoying himself. Between songs he made sure to thank the crew the band had brought along and make funny anecdotes before introducing song after song of classic death metal tracks such as "Infecting The Crypt" and "Funeral Inception". The fans loved it, naturally, because Suffocation are masters of their craft and their show at V58 showcased just how good they are, even without Frank Mullen.

8

All photos by Marika 'MH' Hyldmar.

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