It would certainly be accurate to describe tonight’s epic, triple hammer blow of brutal goodness as an essential date in any 'true' death metal fanatic’s diary. And yet, from the bludgeoning, murkily primitive throes of Sweden’s iconic Entombed A.D. and Baest’s unrelenting, bass-laden carnage through to the blackly immersive horrors of Aborted, these varying generations of players also illustrate just how diverse and fascinating a movement death metal has proven to become over the past couple of decades.
Still relative whippersnappers alongside tonight’s altogether longer-reigning kings of carnage, Baest’s profile as purveyors of impeccably executed yet deliciously nostalgic death metal continues to rise at an unprecedented pace. Hair thrashing wildly beneath a blinding flurry of flickering strobes, these young aggressors are a manic and wildly energised joy to watch as lacerating, sleekly agile lines of guitar erupt out of a pounding backbone of pulverising bass. Generously laden with darkly sinewy groove and rich in ripping, technically intricate detail, hook-laden standout ‘Crosswhore’ leaves the synapses thoroughly crackling with adrenaline, its bass line rumbling like the monstrous, subterranean shifting of tectonic plates.
Aborted may have long been famed for their prestigious standards of insane, brain-liquefying aggression and ripping technical prowess. But ever since the game-changing advent of 2016 smash ‘Retrogore’, it’s fast become apparent that these deliriously violent trappings are but one facet of an altogether more varied and darkly absorbing sound. And as ‘TerrorVision’s’ coldly dissonant, synth-laden intro echoes eerily over the PA like the inky vestiges of some unspeakable nightmare, Aborted’s impeccably orchestrated set is rich with evidence of this visionary, meticulously engineered craft. Indeed, from the moment a livid blaze of blood-red lighting illuminates a stage laden with severed heads and corpses extravagantly encased in glass coffins, this savage, intensely cinematic experience seizes gloriously arresting hold of the senses.
Through madly accelerating strains of intensely visceral, twisted tremolo, the insanely energised throes of ‘TerrorVision’ ignite an instant frenzy among fans as deranged frontman Sven De Caluwé belches forth wave upon wave of gloriously guttural vocal contortions. Erupting into a state of violently explosive, brutalising chaos, the vertebrae-shattering brute force of ‘Deep Red’ sees the Dome instantly transformed into seething mass of flailing limbs and hair, its densely sinewy grooves drenching the senses with adrenaline. Intermingling choice cuts from 2018’s ‘TerrorVision’ in amongst classic bangers sourced from all corners of the band’s expansive back catalogue, material extracted from 2014’s ‘Necrotic Manifesto’ showcases a viciously surgical calibre of aggression. Wielding its every lacerating spiral of tremolo with expertly manipulated, scalpel-keen precision, there’s a pleasing, steely glimmer of Carcass about its relentlessly brutal title track, while the acerbic-throated contortions of ‘Coffin Upon Coffin’ revel in violent bursts of hyperblasting insanity and expansive layerings of tombstone-heavy groove.
Making a sizeable historic leap back to the year 2005, the churning, densely abrasive grooves of ‘Hecatomb’ promptly pummel the eardums into submission with such ceaselessly obliterating force as to all but reduce them to a bloodily unrecognisable pulp. With the inevitable finale of Aborted’s delectably dark and brutal repertoire regrettably inching ever closer to its final moments, the relentlessly deranged ultra-violence of ‘The Saw and the Carnage Done’ guarantees a fittingly explosive conclusion to tonight’s endlessly electrifying proceedings. And as its violently energised strains of ragged fretwork and great, churning whorls of bass carnage collectively cripple every joyous, death metal-loving maniac in the room, it’s hard to imagine a set more perfectly engineered for deliriously dark and violent listening pleasure.
With fans still reeling from the face-melting, compositionally ingenious carnage that was Aborted, genre veterans Entombed A.D. certainly have their work cut out insofar as reigniting the former, violently energised euphoria we’ve just had the pleasure of witnessing. Happily though, electing to open on the madly barrelling throes of freshly released title track ‘Bowels of Earth’ evidently proves to be a wise move, with its raggedly scabrous riffage being eagerly and instantaneously devoured by the hordes of elated fans presently clustered about the stage. And alongside these generous measures of gratuitously primal, face-smashing bruality, there’s no shortage of pleasingly sinister atmospherics to be found in the steadily unfurling, grave-scented fretwork that follows the track’s initially blinding extremes of aggression. Also extracted from this awaited new opus, ‘Elimination’s’ adrenaline-fuelled blend of hammering brute force and blackly visceral groove is quick to work its violently demented magic on the crowd.
“So last time we played here in London it was a Monday night, and now it’s a Friday, so that’s definitely progress,” notes affable frontman L.G. Petrov in response to the deafening roar of applause that follows the early portion of the Swedes’ hotly anticipated set. This momentary observation over, it’s straight back to the serious, all-consuming business of relentlessly battering eardrums into submission, with classic number ‘I for an Eye’s’ savage barrage of caustic barking and lacerating spirals of tremolo serving this purpose in as brutally direct and efficient a manner as possible. Marked by an authentically primitive aesthetic that’s as ragged and pervasively potent as an open, putrefying wound, the latter portion of Entombed A.D.’s mercilessly brutal set sees ‘Left Hand Path’ blend raggedly abrasive textures and explosive bouts of hammering aggression to bewilderingly savage effect. And from densely churning layerings of deathly groove to joyously energised stints of primal, chest-beating ultra-violence, there’s no disputing Entombed A.D.’s unwaning status in old school, inimitably classic circles.