Ft. Cypher16 & Shrapnel
@ The Underworld, Camden
June 28th 2012
Review By Paul James
Photography by Ashlinn Nash
Having missed Death Angel on their last trip to these shores, I couldn’t wait to see them again (Last time was in the much smaller confines of Brighton’s own Engine Rooms) as well as hearing the upon announcement of this tour that the band would be playing the much lauded thrash classic that is their 1987 debut, “The Ultra-Violence” in its entirety to mark the 25th anniversary of its release.
Heading over to the venue as quickly as possible (Train delays unfortunately didn’t help!)
I managed to catch a brief glimpse of Norwich thrashers Shrapnel ending their set, some tasty lead work from both guitarists catching my interest from the get go.
However I can’t say the sound was on their side, as it was mainly dominated by a heavy amount of kick drum and bass guitar, drowning out Jae Hadley’s vocals.
Ending with track “Warhead” you get a good sense of what potential these young thrashers have to come, catchy riffs, classic thrash gang vocals, what’s not to like?
I wouldn’t mind hearing a full set properly at some point!
Taking a brief break to grab a beer before heading back into the thick of things to check out Cypher16 – I had been told good things about these guys previously and I was quite interested to hear their melodic/metal sound for myself.
Boy was I Wrong.
Cypher16 describe themselves as a “hugely talented, innovative organic rock band, who fuse electronic and metal influences with hints of industrial to create their own unique musical mix.”
If by unique you mean taking James Hetfield style vocals, adding in some choir elements on a backing tape/sequencer/etc and laying down tedious breakdowns in between very predictable pop/rock chorus then you might find what you’re looking for.
Quite why they are on this bill seems to be a mystery, and the crowd certainly seems to share the same sentiment – to my right several metallers shake their heads in disapproval, whilst others look rather confused by what’s happening on stage, in between the bass player doing his best Attack! Attack! Impression and some actually quite technical riffage there’s certainly seems to be a major case of identity crisis going on.
Not to say that they were all bad, the band are clearly polished and enjoy what they do which is fine, but if I’m honest when you ask people to start a 3 man moshpit in exchange for plectrums, something’s clearly wrong here!
It feels very forced and trying to win over a crowd like this one is going to be very difficult anyway, as most of the people here are clearly here to see Death Angel and no one else!
So in a way – kudos guys, for sticking it out.
Trying to pick out a highlight of this set was actually one of the hardest parts of this review!
But if I had to pick one, it would definitely be track “I Am Scientist” for breaking up some of the tedium but not really breaking any new ground.
So with them out of the way, it’s on to the main event!
After a slightly lengthy wait and a bit of a sing along to Accept’s classic “Balls to the Wall” Death Angel hit the stage with the full power of album opener “Thrashers” to a packed room of metal heads. Predictably, moshpits open up instantly and it’s chaos for the full 7 minutes!
Having heard both other bands sound a bit off in terms of clarity, Death Angel sound fantastic – everything comes through nicely and it’s great to hear the old classics “Evil Priest” & “Voracious Souls” the way they were meant to be heard. Loud!
Taking a quick break, Vocalist Mark Osegueda takes a moment to dedicate the next tune to all the people who were lucky enough to see Death Angel back in 1987, on their first ever visit to these shores, let alone outside the states!
Bursting into fan favourite “Kill as One” is when the band really hit their stride, the blazing leads of Rob Cavestany and supporting riffs of Ted Aguilar really setting the tone for the rest of the set.
Mark Osegueda leaves the stage for next instrumental track “The Ultra-Violence” in its entirety and even with him gone the bands loses no charisma, the crowd enjoying every minute of its complex guitar work! Considering the song was written when most of the band were all under 20 years old (Hell, the original drummer was 14!) it really shows that even after all this time – the song writing leaves so many other lesser bands in their wake.
Blasting through the rest of the album at breakneck pace, it’s all over too soon but not before the band manages to sandwich several classic rock/metal tracks into “I.P.F.S” finishing with a fantastic rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven & Hell” Mark’s voice really powering through during the verses!
Leaving for a break before the encore – the band come firing back with new tracks “Relentless Revolution”, "Claws In So Deep", "Truce" from “Relentless Retribution” and it’s great to hear how the new tracks work just as well as the older classic material, before finishing with long standing fan favourite “Thrown To The Wolves” this is obviously a band at the top of their game, it’s a shame to see them playing such small clubs over here when they clearly deserve to up with the big four themselves!
However there is a certain intimacy that makes these shows special, after all I doubt we’ll ever see stage diving at a Metallica gig these days!