Suffocation + Decapitated + Ouroboros + Viscera
Manning Bar, Sydney
8 May 2015
Review by Gary Grim
This was a night that, to me, was an excellent example of the diversity that can be found in modern death metal. It’s a genre of music that has certainly matured and become more multifaceted from an already creative adolescence but the bands involved nowadays seem to have no qualms in giving a respectful nod to these days of yore (or, should I say, days of gore) as a homage to the groups that shaped the genre that they thrive within today.
Sydney’s own Viscera encapsulated all of these things; a modern sound that incorporated plenty of elements from the old school of death metal. These guys seemed to throw the best aspects of bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Obituary, Autopsy etc. into their songs but giving it all their own spin, not sounding like just a carbon copy of these aforementioned groups. It was clear that each member of the band enjoyed being on that stage and completely immersed themselves in their performance with plenty of head banging, guttural vocals and the hulking bass player’s guitar strap covered in large, menacing spikes that he would ram into his forehead sometimes between songs. The set was short but the small crowd of onlookers lapped it up.
Ouroboros were up next. This is a band I have seen, heard, enjoyed and reviewed quite a few times. Most recently I caught them at the Factory Theatre with Disentomb, Goatwhore and Psycroptic. Although they put on great show at that gig, they came across a little stiff on stage. On this night, however, these tech-deathsters seemed to loosen up considerably but not at the expense of the tightness of their music. Just like the last time I saw them, a new song was performed and once again there was a Septicflesh-esque element to the song with orchestral sounds being interwoven within the metal to add to the track’s already epic quality. This set was moving away from the more traditional avenues of this genre a step towards the more modern, technical and, at times, symphonic approach to death metal.
When the curtains were drawn open for the arrival of Poland’s Decapitated, a back drop was revealed bearing the band’s logo with a banner beneath that contained the statement, “From pain to strength.” Said statement was thoroughly apt; this is a group that has seen much pain in the form of misfortune, loss and fatality. They have, however, come back stronger than ever as they set out to prove on this night. Performance-wise, these Poles put everything into execution their music. The guitarists and vocalist didn’t just headbang, their whole bodies seemed to thrash about as they played. The drumming was fast and complex, vocals had just the right amount of growl in them to be menacing but not to the point of being indecipherable, fingers were a blur as they moved quickly but precisely over their respective fret boards. The set revolved mostly around their latest and penultimate albums, ‘Blood Mantra’ and ‘Carnival is Forever’. Admittedly, after one or two spins through ‘Blood Mantra’, it hadn’t really grabbed me. After seeing these songs performed live and with such intensity, I have to give it another shot.
Decapitated took up where Ouroboros left off by exploring the realm of death metal and pushing its boundaries with extreme technical proficiency as well as melodic and experimental flourishes whereas Suffocation took the show back to the in-your-face brutality of the genre’s old school. Their set list spanned across most of the band’s discography with a bit of focus on their 1991 debut ‘Effigy of the Forgotten’. While still displaying an insane amount of technicality and speed to the music, Suffocation weren’t afraid to slow things down to a gut-churning grind on occasion.
Overall, it was a gruesome (read as enjoyable) night of brutality encompassing just about all aspects of death metal from its beginnings to now.