(Andy Synn has hit a marvelous run of shows in quick succession over the last few weeks, and this is his summation of the most recent one, with his videos of the performances.)
Being in a band myself I know what it’s like to have your set cut short due to technical difficulties and/or time constraints. It’s never a good thing, but it’s just something you have to deal with as best you can.
Which is why my heart went out to Bloodshot Dawn last night when, just as it seemed they were about to start their set, which had been delayed due to unavoidable technical issues, they were instead forced to cut their entire show from the line-up. We’ve had to cut songs, or had shows cancelled on us before, but never after we’d already set up our gear, and I honestly can’t imagine how utterly gutting that must have been. I can only hope that the rest of the shows (and the previous ones) somehow make up for it.
Still, all disappointments and dissatisfaction regarding that situation aside, that still left three other bands to get the evening going, beginning with…
…the raucous riffs and obnoxiously old-school audio violence of Danish Death Metal upstarts Bæst, a band whose debut album, Danse Macabre, I was so impressed with last year that I not only gave it a massively positive write-up, but also selected it as one of my “runner-up” candidates in my Critical Top Ten of 2018.
As you might imagine then, I was seriously amped up to see what these guys were capable of, and I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed in the slightest. In fact I can’t even remember the last time I saw a band having so much unabashed fun onstage, while still delivering the deathly goods.
From the opening salvo of “Vortex” and “Hecatomb”, to the climactic rush of closer “Crosswhore”, these five hirsute heshers were transformed into a whirlwind of buzzsaw riffs, strafing blastbeats, and windmilling hair, all peformed with a nearly omnipresent shit-eating grin on every single face, as if none of them could fully believe their good fortune at receiving such a rapturous response from the assembled audience.
Armed with both a guttural, commanding voice and a surfeit of natural charisma, frontman Simon Olsen in particular seemed to take great joy in playing to the crowd, who responded with increasing energy to every single exhortation to bang their heads or throw the horns (or both).
That this was a winning performance from the band is in no doubt, and I’m extremely confident that they left the stage this evening having (deservedly) won themselves quite a few new fans.
Much like the band above, this was my first time seeing Dyscarnate in the live arena. Though that’s not through lack of trying on my part, as I’ve been a fan of the band since their very first album. For whatever reason though – scheduling conflicts, illness, last minute cancellations… oh, and the band breaking up for a few years– I just never managed to catch a live show.
Blessed with a sound much more massive and muscular than your average three-piece, Unsworth, Whitty, and Llewellyn hit the stage hard with an opening salvo of “Of Mice and Mountains”, “Cain Enable” (from 2012’s hideously underrated …And So It Came To Pass) and “Backbreaker” (which you can watch below) and proceeded to all but pound the audience into submission with their blend of powerhouse riffage and heavyweight hooks.
If there was one mistake the trio made, in my opinion at least, it was in positioning the stunning “Traitors In The Palace” in the middle of their set, rather than at the end, as the epic, ominous overtones of the track would likely have made for an even better closer than “This Is Fire!”.
Still, that’s literally my only complaint about what was an absolutely devastating performance, and one which was well worth waiting for.
As it turns out (as if there were any real doubt), even when operating with a session drummer (the immensely talented James Stewart, also of Vader, Divine Chaos, and tonight’s non-openers Bloodshot Dawn) the Decapitated crew are still capable of operating as a well-oiled Metal machine, with even the occasional minor technical glitch never threatening to throw them off their stride this evening.
That being said, this mechanical precision and polished delivery almost threatened to work against the group tonight, as there were times during their set – which was notably similar, barring one or two substitutions, to the one they performed last time I saw them – where things felt a little bit like the band were running on cruise-control.
Don’t get me wrong, the opening triptych of “One-Eyed Nation”, “Deathvaluation”, and “Kill The Cult”, all delivered the requisite amount of grit and groove, and kicked off some pretty intense action in the pit, but it wasn’t until a few more songs into the set that things really started to ignite the way they usually do when the band is on top-form.
Thankfully the main body of the set – comprising an assault of “The Blasphemous Psalm…”, “Blood Mantra”, “The Fury”, “Day 69”, and “Homo Sum” – ramped up the intensity levels dramatically, and really hammered home the fact that, despite moving towards a more groove-oriented sound, the band (and Vogg’s riffs in particular) continue to have some serious fucking teeth.
And while the following tracks ended up falling a little flat by comparison to the stellar run which preceded them, a two-song encore of “Spheres of Madness” and “Winds of Creation” was more than enough to send the assembled throng home happy… even if, from my perspective, it felt like the headliners played it a little bit too safe tonight, leaving the two support acts to (arguably) steal the show.