WORDS: James Weaver PHOTOS: Laura McCarthy
When solid tour packages roll into town, you always know it’s going to be a solid event. So when modern death metal titans KATAKLYSM arrived in Manchester backed with a solid support in the form of SEPTICFLESH and ABORTED, the expectation was set to be a night jam-packed full of riffs and growls. But would the bands be able to replicate their destructive studio sound well in the live environment?
Opening proceedings, Belgium’s ABORTED have become a staple in the modern death metal circuit. With a new album just announced, the band’s momentum was at an all-time high and the band brought a tight, well worked brutal performance to the stage. Opening with Meticulous Invagination; the band set the tone for the performance in grand fashion. Fast paced, crushing riffs and a phenomenal vocal display from frontman Sven de Caluwe. Roaring through a set jam-packed of tracks covering a large portion of the band’s lengthy career, from the brutal Necrotic Manifesto to the tight riffs of Expurgation Euphoria, ABORTED ensured chaos was present from the first blast of Ken Bedene‘s drums. With the recent Termination Redux included, the band demonstrated that even after two decades, they can still produce and replicate quality brutal death metal in the live environment. Make no mistake, ABORTED will remain a prevalent name in modern death metal for years to come.
SEPTICFLESH have always been a rather unique sounding band in death metal. Whilst the trend to include symphonic elements in metal has been around for years, rarely does it come across so well and epic in the live environment. From the hugely atmospheric introduction to War in Heaven, the Greek four piece laid down a solid death metal assault bolstered with a huge sound. From the frantic speed of Communion to the utterly devastating riffs of Anubis, SEPTICFLESH battered the ears of the swelling crowd. Sotiris Vayenas and Christos Antoniou pummelled out riff after riff, Kerim Lechner drumming replicated machine gun fire consistently and Spiros Antoniou‘s vocals were absolutely enormous; containing enough tone and power to roar over the music emphatically. As closing track Prometheus ebbed and flowed with sweet symphony, SEPTICFLESH had set the benchmark for a breath-taking death metal performance at an all-time high.
With SEPTICFLESH setting the standard so high, headliners KATAKLYSM had a tough act to follow. With a back catalogue spanning 12 records, the band have a wealth of material to bring to the stage. Opening with Breaching the Asylum, the band instantly set to inject fresh energy into the crowd. From that, the set contained a large portion of material from the band’s latest record, last years Of Ghosts and Gods, whilst including fan favourites like As I Slither and Crippled & Broken. With a performance that contained enough material to make anyone for an ear for death metal smile, it was such a shame that the performance itself felt so lacklustre. Often, riffs felt flat and lacked that cutting edge to incite chaos and despite his best efforts, frontman Maurizio Iacono failed to really captivate the crowd.
With songs failing to deliver, it made it difficult to watch KATAKLYSM, with repetition rearing its ugly head. There were moments of utter brilliance however, with the slick riff present on Thy Serpent’s Tongue inciting heads to bang and Crippled & Broken still packs an almighty punch on the live stage. It’s not that the band were terrible, in fact KATAKLYSM were far from that. The band just failed to offer anything truly distinctive, leaving a performance that felt flat and uninspired and in a scene that is so over-saturated, that immediately sends warning signals.