As far as death metal goes, both VADER and IMMOLATION have been at the forefront of the genre for decades. Through consistently solid studio releases and a live reputation in tow, both bands perfectly demonstrate the brutality and ferocity of the style and 2017 sees the bands supporting new releases throughout the UK. We caught the show in Manchester to see if the co-headline package can still deliver the killing blow.
Opening proceedings was Welsh contingent THE DROWNING whose doom driven death metal served as a solid opening. The band packed an enormous wall of sound thanks to the dual riff assault from guitarists Mike Hitchen and Jason Hodges which kept the band’s rhythm flowing consistently well. Slow and hypnotising segments where Richard Moore‘s thick bass lines packed a punch quickly erupted in full blown chaos where the speed and intensity was pushed to the forefront whilst Matt Small‘s guttural blasts rode above the explosive soundscape. Consistently solid and menacing to behold, THE DROWNING gave an opening performance that shook the foundations of Rebellion to showcase that the UK death metal scene is still packing a punch.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for MONUMENT OF MISANTHROPY whose momentum never seemed to truly get going. The Austrian outfit had moments where they flourished, with the intricate guitar play from Jean Pierre Battesti and Johnny Patrascu kept people on their toes before descending into explosive shredding and frontman George Wilfinger‘s guttural and visceral vocal deliveries were fitting indeed. Unfortunately, these moments were only sprinkled throughout the band’s set as the band failed to deliver the killer hooks to keep people entranced. Inter-changing from sections of brutal death metal to tech death inspired solo play was largely at play for this with these pace changes being too frequent and resulting in the band lacking any killer characteristic to make them stand out and deliver a performance that was truly memorable.
IMMOLATION have never shied away from the roots of death metal. Approaching a near three decade career, the American outfit have refined their technique to create substantial and consistently relentless studio releases for years now and their performance in Manchester showcased a band at the top of their game. From the off, IMMOLATION made their intent clear through an enormous wall of sound that was powered through the dual assault from guitarists Robert Vigna and Alex Bouks, Steve Shalaty‘s bombastic drumming and Ross Dolan‘s mighty bass tones and explosive vocal deliveries.
With the band releasing their tenth studio record, Atonement, earlier this year the setlist had a nice selection and the new material held their own showcasing the band’s maintaining good form. But where the band truly shined was when IMMOLATION unleashed staples across their extensive back catalogue. From the double bass assault on Majesty and Decay, the venomous riffs on Immolation and the fury behind Dolan‘s vocals on Kingdom of Conspiracy, IMMOLATION‘s set was peppered full of moments that demonstrated their class and showcased why IMMOLATION are still very much at the epicentre of death metal.
Similar to their labelmates IMMOLATION, VADER have remained consistently strong throughout their lengthy career. Now in support of their eleventh studio record, The Empire, the band’s consistency in both their studio and live output remained true as VADER delivered a performance that was bombastic, ferocious and utterly satisfying to witness. Slick riffing from Marek Pajak and Piotr Wiwczarek kept the tempo flowing in top gear whilst James Stewart‘s skills behind the drums was nothing short of impressive as copious amounts of double bass were consistently unleashed to pack a punch to VADER‘s already monolithic sound.
With a nice chunk of the band’s set comprised of new material, which was performed flawlessly, VADER‘s consistency was never in doubt. Piotr Wiwczarek‘s iconic vocal deliveries carried the weight of Prayer To The God of War whilst Angels of Steel‘s blistering pace whipped up a storm that engulfed Rebellion. In almost a flash VADER powered through a set that showcased the crisp and established sound the band has refined for decades. Death metal may have evolved considerably since 1983, but VADER more than proved that they are still carrying the torch of the genre through a blistering sonic assault.
Check out our photo gallery of the night’s action in Manchester from Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography here: