Suffocation @ O2 Bar Academy, London

There’s nothing better to flush away those Monday blues than an evening of death metal and if it doesn’t wake you up for the week, you must be dead. What’s more, the fact that the gig has been moved from Islington’s Academy to its smaller brother upstairs cause s further aural devastation and without any explanation as to why this has changed.

Either way, the masses bustle in and are warmed up with a slightly more gentle approach to death metal through openers Fallujah. By using the word gentle, many will cringe in disgust but we use the term lightly as they approach brutality with a progressive approach fuelled with melodies. At times it feels as though the US based metallers have to force the technicality in a hope to be further accepted but regardless the sound is tight despite such a small proximity to play in.

Thrashers Havok have no issue with a tiny space, as they’re used to ripping open intimate shows with their speedy onslaught. Despite being slightly out of place on this line-up the quartet are bursting with an energy that slowly disperses into the crowd. Their sing-along anthems such as ‘D.O.A’ and ‘Covering Fire’ are met with the usual enjoyment as the band thrash through a couple of new tracks from upcoming album ‘Unnatural Selection’. From what is heard, it sounds as though Havok are continuing on with what they know best and neo-thrash shall return.

As expected, if one goes within certain proximity of the Cephalic Carnage dressing room, the stench of weed will seep into your nostrils and it’s pretty much the same story as they walk out of stage. Well known for their love of the dope, the band are full of jokes to try and keep the crowd giggling but their music itself doesn’t seem to get the response desired. Their technical deathgrind is the bizarre brutality experienced on record but the pits aren’t as frequent as predicted and frantic, tinnitus-inducing bass is played alongside ridiculous blastbeats. The setlist is pretty standard, with favourites such as ‘Kill For Weed’ and ‘Raped By an Orb’ with frontman Lenzig’s vocal vomit spewing out for all to embrace. Their usual closer of ‘Black Metal Sabbath’ sees further comedy with black metal piss takes and ensues their final pit for the evening, leaving the band worthy of skulking off for another joint.

When news spread of Frank Mullen being unable to make all Suffocation live shows from now on around the same time of new album ‘Pinnacle of Bedlam’ was unleashed, it left many in the scene baffled. As promised, the band continued to tour and this visit sees Dying Fetus’ John Gallagher taking the mike responsibilities and being a lot more dynamic on stage than with his usual comrades, perhaps due to the lack of guitar weighing him down. Starting from the “classics” pile, Suffocation relentlessly rip into ‘Thrones of Blood’. They may have been in the game for a quarter of a century now, but the American death metal A-team prove they’re still as brutal as ever with guitarist Terrance Hobbs’ slamming riffs still as relevant as back when they were spawned.

This year’s full length ‘Pinnacle of Bedlam’ has been hailed as one of their best in recent years and so the band exhibit why with tracks like ‘Purgatorial Punishment’ and ‘My Demise’ causing bodies to flail. At times, the absence of Mullen can be sensed and the hand chop is sorely missed and although Gallagher’s vocals are much deeper, it still does justice to the show and as the Fetus man says himself, ‘Infecting the Crypts’ is likely to have created the whole slam death metal genre. So, what better way to end the show than with an anthem of brutality, loved by many and proving that Suffocation are still the dads of death metal, deserving a larger venue in future.


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Sonne Adam @ Boston Arms, London

Tonight’s one off show at The Boston Arms sees a swelling audience from the doors opening due to a couple of exclusives in this evening’s proceedings. With an ever evolving underground sound thriving in the capital, what better way to start than with homage to OSDM, courtesy of Decrepid. The band fills the stage with Swedish rawness and a slight tinge of crusty grind, with frontman Cris Bassan stomping the stage into the ground like a bald Barney Greenway.

Craven Idol need no introduction for most who reside within London, with a consistent showcase of their blackened thrash on stage in recent years. As always they dominate clad in studs and leather, with buzzsaw riffs and echoing gnarls of hatred consistently pummelling the venue. With such a tight set and influence from legends such as Destroyer 666 or Bathory, we can only hope a full length will soon haunt us with its existence.

The fact that this is Grave Miasma’s only UK show this year is likely to have been a pulling point for many tonight and it soon becomes apparent why. Whilst much of the atmosphere on their EPs is created by an old school production, the murky depths of their blackened death seem to intensify in a live environment. The gloom-riddled guitars and rasps of the occult on the likes of ‘This Tomb Is My Altar’ become almost hypnotic as the set encases you in total darkness.

Sonne Adam’s previous journey to our shores supporting Grave was a show to be reckoned with but their first headline show in London is destined to push into another dimension. As soon as the intensely low riffs of ‘We who Worship The Black’ commence, the crowd are under the Israelis’ spell, with every ounce of evil seeming effortlessly brilliant. Nothing is forced here, with every track from incredible debut ‘Transformation’ sounding as crushing, if not more, than on record. Despite Dahan’s departure last year, the current four piece are meticulously bound with Davidov’s vocals harrowing every ear tunnel within venue. Tonight is a perfect example as to why Sonne Adam’s entrance into the spotlight was such a breath of fresh air for doom death.

Review by Lily Randall

Published in Iron Fist

In the Spotlight with Cattle Decapitation

Bands will forever tell you that the latest album is their best but it’s rare the metal world will agree. Luckily for Cattle Decapitation, ‘Monolith of Inhumanity’ is a monument of death metal mayhem and a far cry from 2009’s ‘The Harvest Floor’. When they’re not terrorising the internet with disgusting videos, they’re on tour doing it in the flesh and despite travelling dramas Lily Randall managed to grab Travis Ryan for a catch up.

1. Your latest album ‘Monolith of Inhumanity’ has been claimed to be your best yet. How have you dealt with your new found limelight?

Travis: Drugs, alcohol, impregnation of fans, cutting, the occasional overdose… No, seriously, it’s been humbling. Fans in the front rows actually know the lyrics to the songs and “sing along”, which to me is a bizarre concept for a band like us. We’re also pretty stoked that the shit stuck and we weren’t left with an album everyone hated. It was kind of a stretch to get out that far on a limb – we generally make music we want to hear with little consideration for what others might think, so we kind of lucked out that most people liked the new stuff. It could have gone either way, we didn’t know which, so I’m glad the cards fell in our favour.

2. You said previously that the writing process was more rushed than you had hoped. Looking back now, would you have still done it differently despite its success?

Travis: Funny thing is, we had more time to write this one than usual. We took a year off to do it and thought we were gonna have this album finished in six months with another six to hone it down but no. We worked straight that whole time on it. Conflicting work schedules was what made it such a pain in the ass but we made it work.

3. Cattle Decapitation have always been known for their opinions regarding politics, especially animal rights. Have your opinions ever affected how you are treated as a band?

Travis: Well, maybe. I’m sure it turns a lot of fans off. If they only knew us, haha! They’d find we have much more in common with them than they think. The vegetarian/vegan angle probably turns a lot of people off because their judgements are based on how they’ve seen other vegans and vegetarians act in the past regarding their life choice and we just aren’t like that and never have been. I’m vegan, Josh is vegetarian and the other two dudes do what they want. I write the lyrics so I know where I’m coming from. It turned out to be impossible to maintain an all vegetarian band and still get the musicianship we wanted. It was never a criteria. So to answer your question, not really. People make their jokes once in a while and it’s all very old hat now, but I mostly hear people giving us props for having the standpoint the lyrics do and for having the balls to present that in the death metal arena. It all makes perfect sense when you look into it.
4. What are your current pet peeves regarding the world right now? Go on, rant to us!

Travis: Ugh, I’m sick of ranting. Plastic. Plastic really pisses me off. But that’s boring I’m sure. I don’t know, I’ve been ranting all day on stupid ass Facebook so I’m kind of ranted out right now. Meme-based societies are pissing me off, how’s that?
5. What’s life on the road like with Cattle Decapitation?

Travis: Same as any other band. Mild drama, wondering where to eat CONSTANTLY, LOTS of farts, lots of jokes and lots of fart jokes. Same old shit.

6. Where does your lyric inspiration tend to come from?

Travis: Every day bullshit. People. People sucking. Depression. Anxiety. ADHD with mild bipolar disorder perhaps? The news. That kinda thing.

7. Are you like many death metal bands that live for gory horror films?

Travis: Nah. Traces of Death and the internet killed all that for me, the former being when I was young. I’ve always been more into realism, reality based stuff, documentaries etc. Never was much into many cartoons when I was a kid, so I’m not too fond of animation. I like the old horror movies if anything but just for a chuckle. Hellraiser 2 was the shit.
8. When you Google the ‘Forced Gender’ video, the top searches include “bloody disgusting”, “NSFW” and “banned”. I’m guessing this is the response you were after?

Travis: I just wanted to bum some motherfuckers out. It definitely worked. I wanted people to see it and say to themselves, “well, that’s not OK at all”. I wanted people to have to step back and re-evaluate where they are in life, what they have and what matters most in this world to them. “NSFW” was the tag that put on it which means “not safe for work”. It definitely is something that violates all public video sites’ agreements and even the agreements with the hosting company that hosts our website or else we’d just take it. Quite honestly, it’s funny people were so freaked out about the video – all the video is are the lyrics put into play on the screen and acted out. That’s all. And it’s not much different than any of our other songs! It takes doing all that to get people to understand what we’re saying? Sad.

9. The ideas didn’t come from personal fetishes did they?!

Travis: No, I personally think all that stuff is for show. At least people that go around promoting the fact that they love fetishes and all that. Fetishes to me are a very personal thing and people that exploit that all openly are fucking posers.

10. If you were to do any cover at a live show, what would it be?

Travis: I’ve always wanted to do Rigor Mortis’ “Foaming at the Mouth” but also think it’d be hilarious to do Tourniquet’s “Ark of Suffering”. Hilarious, because it’s a Christian band and I have a knack for being able to separate a bands ideology from the actual music and enjoy the music, plus it’s a bad ass song with a great message. I can’t believe I’m saying that about a Christian band but it’s a song against vivisection and using animals to test cosmetics.
11. What’s next for Cattle Decapitation?

Travis: A one-off HUGE festival in Guadalajara, Mexico and then Australia in June as well as the massive Summer Slaughter Tour in the States in July/August.
12. With festival season upon on us, who would be your chosen 3 headliners, dead or alive?

Travis: Carcass, Coroner and Bethlehem.

Interview by Lily Randall

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Introducing Desolator

The neo-thrash trend fronted by the likes of Municipal Waste and Havok may still be booming but there are still many clinging on to the roots of the genre and resurrecting it with equally ancient, scuffed up hi-tops. Cue Southampton based Desolator, who despite only starting two years ago have made quite a name for themselves. The trio made up of Jamie Brooks (vocals/guitar), Felix Dock (bass) and Sam Talbot (drums) love playing fast and Brooks sums it up perfectly. “Speed thrash ‘n’ roll! Thrash for us should be unhinged and fun, stripped down with every instrument being pushed to excite.”

Desolator’s consistent desire to party has done them favours, with a constant flow of gigs opening up around the country, especially thrash all dayers gathering a mental mass of followers. Their first gig was at one of these back in 2011 and despite only having two songs written, the band were invited eager ears. “We couldn’t believe our luck, it was an unbelievable way to start”, recalls Jamie. From then there have been support slots with the likes of Cannibis Corpse, DRI and Sacred Reich, giving the three piece more opportunities to showcase their energetically manic live shows. “Our recent show in Belgium at Thrash Till Deaf was definitely one of the best gigs we’ve been a part of. First time overseas for us, great old school line up & as much beer as we could physically drink!”

On the talks of beer, it’s clear Desolator worship the stuff, with lyrical themes akin to Tankard and the ferocity of Kreator or Whiplash. When asked if the band could survive without the liquid gold, we were left with a perfect lyrical answer – “Our currency is beer, our bank is the bar, Stay out of our way, you fucking rockstar, Alcoholic assault, none of your H2O, Staying sober? We say NO!”

Introducing Reptilian Death

The resurrection of Reptilian Death has been a long time coming but founder Demonstealer (Sahil Makhija) has finally grabbed it by its horns and completed the new album. With a few EPs and sporadic live shows from as far back as 2000, Reptilian Death’s old-school death metal attack seems to have finally found its desired, live form with Sahil on drums and Vinay Venkatesh (vocals) leading the way as the songwriters. What started as a death metal parody by Demonstealer alongside his other project Demonic Resurrection (who played Bloodstock last year), has turned into a more serious affair, with influences taken from the likes of Deicide, Immolation and Behemoth. “The new stuff is much deeper, darker and not your average death metal lyrics”, The Demonstealer explains. “The entire album is a story and a sequence of events so I’ll leave it to the listeners to check out the album when it releases and read through the lyrics to get a better understanding.”

With three projects to organise, as well as a record label, Sahil believes that the Indian metal scene is thriving. “The scene here at the moment is seeing huge growth with bands and music releases but we’re struggling a bit with touring and the logistics behind it. We Indian’s love Facebook so the social media space has completely exploded with fan interaction and we’ve got a whole lot of ‘online genre wars’ happening off late. It’s an interesting time to be an Indian band.” The hooded menaces unleash their second full length in May and with a promise of brutality and old school groove, Reptilian Death are bound to be slithering under your nose before you know it.

By Lily Randall

To be published in Iron Fist #5

April album reviews for Iron Fist

C.R.O.W.N – ‘Psychurgy’

Imagine the likes of Isis and Godflesh fighting to the death in a black hole, when all of a sudden one of them comes up from their darkened abyss and grabs you, pulling you into their disturbing brawl. C.R.O.W.N may only have two members to create such a disturbingly beautiful debut, but they do it with ease, each riff as mesmerizingly crushing as the next. The terrifying twosome from France may not have a drummer, but the programmed beats that accompany their gloom-riddled galaxy are heavy enough to push the sludge further and add a slight industrial tinge. The atmosphere created by the juxtaposed droning guitars and melodies is enough to keep the hour long album afloat with tracks such as ‘Psychokinesy II’ confirming that C.R.O.W.N’s own vision of delivering “the sound of a molten universe collapsing” is absolutely spot on.

4 out of 5

Immolation – ‘Kingdom of Conspiracy’

It’s often difficult to construct a truly beastly death metal album without turning to the usual checklist of old school production or technicality overload. Luckily US veterans manage to use their previous experience to create a ninth album that oozes with majestic brutality despite such a pristine production. Although it may seem a simple formula, Immolation’s decathlon of death avoids repetition with each song holding its own and beating the crap out of anything in its way simultaneously. The steady stomp of ‘God Complex’ leaves an unnerving trail, whilst ‘Indoctrinate’ is as pummeling as the topics throughout – a hatred of modern life. Although the themes may seem cliché, Immolation portray them with such ease and authenticity that all is forgiven.

4 out of 5

The Amenta – ‘Flesh is Heir’

Many may have described the latest offering from The Amenta as a more accessible listen but the ‘Flesh is Heir’s is by no means lacking in chaos. A slightly more organised chaos than predecessor ‘nOn’ perhaps but this only heightens the maturity the Australians have embraced. The Amenta still blend an array of genres into a thick, suffocating filth, however this onslaught entwines a few moments that allow you to catch a breath without it losing its unnerving atmosphere. ‘A ‘Womb Stone’ and ‘The Palimpesest’ display how industrial samples can create fear, whilst ‘Teeth’ is the perfect example of their feral ferocity of deathly proportions. Although there are moments that sound like Gojira or Decapitated losing their mind in a mental asylum, there is also a blackened tinge that further hammers your head with speed. ‘Flesh is Heir’ is full of a consistent rawness and although certain parts may please the “core” crowd, there isn’t really anything accessible about this terror.

3 out of 5

Shade Empire – ‘Omega Arcane’

You’d think that a band who describes themselves with four different elements of extremity would create something beautiful yet brutal. Unfortunately for Shade Empire, their symphonic blackened melodeath lacks the latter despite the titbits of death. ‘Omega Arcane’ shows a darker side of the Finnish band with more blackened influences but like many of their fellow Finns, they fall into a desperation for epic sounds. The length of particular songs cause your attention to veer off at times and the lack of ferocity in Shade Empire leaves them trailing behind others attempting this sound, such as Septic Flesh or Fleshgod Apocalypse. Bound to be on the checklist of anyone willing to drift off into a fantasy land of sound, this certainly isn’t for the bloodthirsty despite such a flawless display of musicianship.

2 out of 5

Coffins – ‘The Fleshland’

It may have been five years since Japan’s Coffins released their colossal ‘Buried Death’ full length but the doom/death hybrid of horror they’ve unleashed this time round is certainly worth the wait. With Relapse Records getting behind them for ‘The Fleshland’, the production creates the ideal juxtaposition of pristine, musical filth; the sludgy bass and haunting growls we’ve witnessed before from the band stopping you in your tracks. ‘Hellbringer’ and ‘No Saviour’ embrace the speedier side of the deathly grooves, whilst aptly named ‘The Colossal Hole’ and closer ‘Tormentopia’ engulf you in a slow motion manner of misfortune. ‘The Fleshland’ is certainly not going to be the top tourist attraction this summer, unless like us you have a love for musical masochism from Tokyo.

4 out of 5

 Entrails – ‘Raging Death’

The saying “persistence is futile” springs to mind when the first notes of ‘Raging Death’ hit your lugholes. Despite being around for the majority of the nineties’ Swe-death revolution, Entrails were slow off the mark in releasing a full length and so by 2010, fellow countrymen had been established as pioneers of the genre. Although all three of Entrails’ releases have been full of groove-laden riffs and old school worship, their constant comparison to Entombed continues for ‘Raging Death’. It almost feels as though the band are trying to come off as some form of tribute act with familiar logo font and a sound so uncanny to the ‘Left Hand Path’, it’s a little cringe worthy. This does however, mean that what is displayed on ‘Raging Death’ is vintage rawness through sludgy, mid tempo death, d-beats and phlegm-riddled vocals. ‘In Pieces’ and ‘Carved to the Bone’ exhibit the formula flawlessly but the lack of originality leaves Entrails trailing behind.

3 out of 5

Reviews by Lily Randall

To be published in Iron Fist #5

Sonic Obliteration @ Camden Underworld, May 2013

A 3pm start for an entire day of extreme metal may seem a little extreme in itself and it will be a miracle if everyone leaves with the capability of hearing and walking but fans are eager to accept the challenge. A wide range of local talent is on offer to warm up the crown and provide background drinking music for many with thrashers Axonide starting off the procedures. Grindcore trio Oblivionized get brutal without a bass and slightly more known Brits Bloodshot Dawn bring a more conventional deathly sound into the day.

The slightly manic Unfathomable Ruination blastbeat their way into frenzy, whilst The Last Shot Of War’s deathcore falls on its face with predictable breakdown galore. Rearmed continue the madness with some more brutality but suddenly the break between bands begins to lengthen.

After playing a show in Ireland previously, the remaining three bands are still nowhere to be seen and it develops that their ferry is not going to arrive in time. This unfortunately results in the assaulting sound of Decrepit Birth not being heard tonight, much to our displeasure and many others’ here.

Luckily Cattle Decapitation do a tremendous job of picking up the bad vibes and blasting them out of the venue in a frenzied showdown of death metal done good. Frontman Travis Ryan devours the stage whilst spewing out demented vocals to create the best uneasy listening one could ask for. Latest tracks from ‘Monolith of Inhumanity’ get a stellar response and new favourite ‘Forced Gender Reassignment’ causes the biggest mosh pit of the night to explode. Instead of suffering with sea legs, the nastiness is played with a precision so pummelling, they take the band of the night award.

You’d think a band with as much experience as Cryptopsy would be able to follow this performance in their stride but unfortunately their set becomes quite the anti-climax. Despite last year’s self-titled album throwing the band back into the spotlight to some extent, it feels as though the band have lost their bite in general since frontman Lord Worm left. The sound is swamped by double bass and there is an intensity lacking in songs such as ‘Slit Your Guts’ that would normally blow off the roof. Due to this the crowd seem knackered prematurely but its understandable when you take in how much has been displayed today.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

Published at