Obituary, M-Pire of Evil, Dust Bolt
@ The Electric Ballroom, Camden
February 1st 2015
Review by Ann Sulaiman
Photography by Graham Hilling
After a date in Paris, Florida’s death metal legends Obituary made a stop at Camden, London for the UK date of their European tour. Seeing as how the show was switched over from The Underworld to the more spacious Electric Ballroom due to ticket sales, excitement was already in the air for the immense night of metal to come.
Along with younger bands Rotting Repugnancy and Dust Bolt, Sunday night was promised to be a fantastic night for the London scene, as old school British legends Demolition Man and Mantis (previously of Venom fame) also joined in as their latest project, M:Pire Of Evil.
Rotting Repugnancy, being first on the bill, opened with buff frontman Iain on vocal duty.
While a charming, shirtless Scotsman might not fit the image of brutality on paper, onstage he delivered; his deep grunts matching his cohorts’ crunching guitar stomps decently enough to ignite some head bobbing from the crowd.
At the same time, it isn’t exactly fair to refer to Rotting Repugnancy as a “brutal” death metal band, but a “primal” death metal band, owing to the bigger emphasis heard through their drumming. From opening song ‘Crown of Hatred’ to ‘And The Day Shall Dawn With Fire’, drummer Tom Lee was the real centre of musical attention as he marched through the group’s half hour set.
When it was time for thrashers Dust Bolt, the atmosphere in the venue suddenly took on a spark as they bounced onto the stage. Even by the last date of supporting Obituary on tour, where they had to switch to a half hour rather than a forty-five minute set; the young Bavarians were still bustling with energy and raring to go.
The thrash metal “revival”, if it could be called as such, has seen new names emerge in recent years who typically cite influences from early Metallica to Kreator.
Though a number of them actually fall flat after five minutes, Dust Bolt can be said to stand above the rest.
While their peers simply talk about what they love about thrash metal from the ‘80’s, Dust Bolt was seen to actually embody the genre’s spirit that night at The Electric Ballroom with their endless speed and raw energy when they played.
‘Soul Erazor’, ‘A.T.R.’ and ‘Toxic Attack’ were each met with headbanging ferocity from the audience, and when lead guitarist and singer Lenny asked for a moshpit towards the end, people were very happy to oblige.
It was time for the legends to play, when M:Pire Of Evil took over after the fifteen minute break. Featuring two members of NWOBHM icons Venom, Demolition Man (vocals and bass) and Mantas (guitars) as the core line up, it wouldn’t be completely wrong to assume that this band would be Venom the Sequel.
This isn’t a bad thing in itself, if it means seeing these two unleash the same fire they helped create back in the day. Preferring to let the music do the talking, Mantas ripped into his strings to bring out evil riffs of speed.
While some were still recovering from the frenzy that was Dust Bolt, others in the audience still had it in them to bang their heads enthusiastically for the set.
Demolition Man and Mantas may be using M:Pire Of Evil as a means to replay old Venom songs, as was mainly the case here tonight; at the same time they did this with the vigour and straightforward musicianship that they had back then.
It was a delight to hear the reintroduction of old songs ‘Black Legions’, ‘Carnivorous’ and ‘Parasite’, yet the biggest treat was – unashamedly – when Mantas casually invited everyone to sing along on that special favourite which (in his words) “created a new genre, blah blah blah…”, ‘Black Metal’.
And Kenny from Obituary had joined them on drums.
Speaking of which, after a short soundcheck during the interval, the mainstars of the event finally made their appearance. Blue and red lights lit up, and the crowd went wild with cheers, as Obituary – headed by singer John Tardy and his brother, drummer Donald – walked onto the stage.
Even though the tour was to promote and commemorate the release of their latest album ‘Inked In Blood’, a record funded by fans via Kickstarter; the Tardy brothers and friends chose to give everyone at The Electric Ballroom a good mix of songs throughout their back catalogue.
Going all the way from the new LP to first albums “Slowly We Rot” and “Cause of Death”, Obituary pummeled through some of their strongest material onstage.
Sinister, crushing riffs, John’s deep shrieks and Don’s relentless drum syncopation brought many a smile to the crowd’s faces, old and new fans alike.
By this point in the review, it becomes difficult for this reporter to think of other ways to properly describe what took place on Sunday night.
People were headbanging even more furiously than before, hair went windmilling and fists pumped aggressively for the adrenaline rush induced by excitement for the band’s hooks and raw swerves.
A highlight of the hour came when the rest of the group briefly left the stage for Don’s solo. Keeping an eye on his tools and another on his audience, the drummer engaged everyone while he was in the spotlight; his brother John stepping down to personally greet some of the people in the front row, before heading back to finish the set.