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  • Review by Sarah Stubbs

LIVE REVIEW: Vitriol, Hate Eternal and Nile @ the Dome, London

Death metal gigs are by their very nature a truly intense experience. However, Dark Matter have rarely witnessed such an outpouring of energy and passion both on and off stage as when the ‘A Vile Desolate Sands’ tour, headlined by Nile, hit UK shores. And as responsible journo types always ready to walk into war zones a la Kate Adie, we’re right there in the depths of the London mosh pit risking life itself to report back to you on the full extent of the incredible insanity.

We can’t get enough of Vitriol right now, a band that have finally hit their full powerful potential with first explosive album release, To Bathe From The Throat of Cowardice. A worthy support act to Nile, their skilled, instrumental mastery is matched only by visceral, violent passion as raw as an open wound. Every track of their heart-pulsing Dome set is a triumph of intensely technical death that also bears many of the scorched burn marks of blackened death. Clean periods of pure technical polish set the nerve endings ablaze, while gruelling onslaughts of hair-trigger drums punctuate Nile-esque notes of sepulchral drama and strings of underlying dark melody add layers of rippling, tormented emotion.

Highlights are the astonishingly accomplished Victim with its interludes of staggering, zig-zag distortion that were just made for head-banging fury and the more refined The Parting of a Neck, with vertigo-inducing chords that lurch with sickening ferocity. Vocalist Kyle Rasmussen steals the show, every fibre of his being poised with excruciating tautness towards the mic, his rabid growls ripping through the air with all the harrowing ferocity of revving chainsaws.

Hate Eternal, being slightly unfortunately sandwiched in the middle portion of the madness, see a slight exodus to the bar, toilets and smoking area as they rage their way through their set; but nevertheless put on a solid, well-received performance. Boasting former Morbid Angel alumni Erik Rutan and inspired by the raw, deadly power of early Floridian pioneers such as Obituary and Death, Hate Eternal’s studied guitar athletics, barking vocals and crushing blast beats tempered with more melancholy passages ride the crest of the genre’s perpetually creative wave with practised ease. Ripping through such favoured onslaughts as the brutally barbaric Bringer of Storms, Behold Judas with its anger-soaked agonies and the black, nightmare-drenched chords of The Stygian Deep, the band balance deft musicianship with venomous fervour to flood the shadowy environs of the Dome with an almost biblical deluge of endless storming hate.

One of the finest purveyors of technical death metal in the world, Nile need little fanfare. Often decried for the fantasy nature of their favoured themes, which snobs don’t deem compatible with the acerbic, abrasive purities of technical death, Nile have been defiantly and definitively part of the scene since its early 90s heyday. For the more open-minded devotes of death, the combination of flawless complexity and breakneck speeds with darkly romantic chords and lyrics steeped in ancient Egyptian myth and Lovecraftian lore has proven a seductive mix. As the band stalk on stage the pulverising, opening notes of Sacrifice Unto Sebek, as heavily ominous as the falling masonry of ancient ruins pounding desert sands, send deepening shivers of anticipation down the spine. Soon enough a cacophony of burning blast beats kick in, the music swerves between screeching distortion, lacerating groove and bursts of barely human, bestial grunts and the atmosphere inside the Dome, already a hothouse of fevered exhilaration, becomes positively feral. While inevitably a set-list can’t please every foam-at-the-mouth fan, Nile season theirs with a fair smattering of popular tracks that reflect the diversity of their prodigious album back catalogue.

The result is an obliterating show, featuring such classics as Call to Destruction, Long Shadows of Dread and Vile Nilotic Rites; each a finely forged diamond of technical precision, blazing, cut-glass edges sharpened up on stage with pure instrumental prowess. The mystical strains of User Maat Re, suffused with all the occult antique mystery that Nile have become renowned for, add an air of solemnity while the chaotic extremities of Snake-pit Mating Frenzy reflect the hazardous, frothing sea of flailing leather-clad limbs and wind-milling, sweat-soaked metal-head locks in the pit. Nile blow their final load spectacularly with Black Seeds of Vengeance, the heavy riffing and exquisite dropped tuning echoing across to the furthest reaches of the venue like dusky chimes in the deepest, dustiest pyramid catacombs.

As the half-deafened audience stumble out the doors, totally annihilated by Nile and their stellar support, it becomes clear that tonight’s death metal majesty has shaken the Dome to its very foundations. It’s every wonder the beloved yet ramshackle venue hasn’t completely collapsed in on itself with the pneumatic drilling pressure of so many relentlessly-paced, killer riffs and beats.

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