Aborted + Rotten Sound + This Legion @ Birmingham Academy 3, 19th April 2010


From the get-go, this was Nature 1, Metal 0. With the after-effects of the Icelandic volcanic eruption conspiring to keep the Red Chord a couple of countries away from their schedule, this Terrorizer-sponsored tour was seemingly crippled from the outset, with both de facto headliners RC and opening band for the tour, What Lies Beneath both stranded within the tangles of European air control.

This meant I was able to amble towards the Academy at my own pace, safe in the knowledge that the Abrahams / Zucker — styled flight arrangements translated itself to a brief, two band bill. And presumably just to mock my own incompetence, the promoters promptly managed to fill up the bill with firstly — in the words of others — “a high school cock rock band” and local deathcore oufit This Legion.

A band so fresh-faced they had me questioning my own mortality, they packed all the prerequisite components of the current DEATH, SLAM and BR00DAL popularity waves, with synchronised stage moves, perfectly timed beatdown sections and growling vocals. Despite their set heavily relying on the past work of other bands, their technical prowess was advanced far beyond their youthful years and whilst it will be interesting to see how This Legion fare when this style of music drops out of vogue, they certainly have the chops to enable themselves to grow into something a little less generic in the months and years to come.


Clad in uniform black workshirts, Finlands Rotten Sound were dressed in suitably earnest attire to complement their furrowed-brow, end-of-days grindcore, and as one of the main attractions on this sadly curtailed bill, they took it upon themselves to ensure that their half hour was as memorable as possible. The Rotten Sound is one made of equal parts contemporary machine-like clinicism, and retrogressive primal rage, most notably akin to early 90s Earache Records style grind.

In fact, the early Earache roster works as an excellent starting point with which to describe the band with a real sense of ‘From Enslavement to Obliteration’ era Napalm Death infusing everything from the rapid-fire guitar work to the Mick Harris-esque drumming, especially the emphasis on the ride cymbal during their multitude of blast sections. The tightness of Nasum met with the velocity of Anaal Nathrakh, with a humongous Entombed style ‘Rot n’ Roll’ roar adding a welcome element of groove to many points of the set.


Despite the bass cutting out during the first song, there were no other hitches throughout their set and the likes of ‘Void’ and ‘Corponation’ generated that same rush of adrenaline that only prime grindcore can bring. Having recently released a new EP, ‘Napalm’ via Relapse that consisted of 50% new material and 50% Napalm Death covers, the expected ND cover materialised in the shape of ‘Missing Link’, which bought cheers of recognition before dropping headlong into a closing five-track vortex of head-spinningly swift grind. Polite frontman Keijo Niinimaa thanked the crowd for sticking around regardless of the line-up shuffles, advised us to ‘screw the volcano’ (although remember to pack an asbestos prophylactic before attempting this), before leaving the stage, happy in the knowledge that Rotten Sound’s assist had levelled the scores at Nature 1 – Metal 1.


With the scores tied, there was only one band you’d want on your side going into sudden DEATH, namely Belgium’s blood-splattered dealers of death, Aborted. Having been around for nigh on fifteen years now, they have amassed a legion of splits, EPs and are currently on their sixth full-length, namely 2008’s ‘Strychnine 213’.

Having warmed up the crowd with a few snatches of Pantera and some laudable Schwarzenegger impersonations, from the first note Aborted’s putrid blend of death metal and hardcore was unrelentingly savage, and their songs — relatively by-the-numbers on record — took on a new sense of vitality live, aided in no small part by a beefy PA.

With vocalist Sven de Caluwé having reassembled the bands lineup virtually from scratch after the release of their last LP, including Abigail Williams vocalist Ken Sorceron on guitar, this Aborted were a damn sight hungrier than I’d expected. Having ended up as headliners for the evening (granted, it was a rotating bill anyway), they took the impetus and managed to banish any thoughts of the Red Chord from the amassed crowd here tonight.

Wielding their instruments as if they were weapons, every thick groove and every immense breakdown was wrung out with maximum exertion and hit the target with maximum devastation. This again took its toll at one point, with bass player Cole Martinez falling foul to tonight’s curse of the bassist, relieving him of a working instrument two songs in. Thankfully the mix was so bottom-heavy and pounding, that for the brief time the band were bassless they lost no real quality in the sound.


Aborted are nothing if not consistent, having ploughed this particularly gory furrow for over a decade now, and were one of the first DM bands to really embrace the groove and stomp of metallic hardcore, irrespective of how overplayed this particular style is nowadays. Indeed, when Aborted originally fleshed out their more one-dimensional Carcass worship with slams and beatdowns it was a move applauded by many for bringing something different to the table.

It has certainly given Aborted enough of their own identity, and much like Suffocation, a lot of the fans of the genre do appreciate the work that Aborted have done in breathing life into their subgenre of choice in the years before it became so popular. Bringing things up to date, a couple of later tracks from their most recent release, the ‘Coronary Reconstruction’ EP, were aired tonight with the title track in particular impressing with almost Lovecraftian breakdowns battering you round the face like one of Cthulu’s tentacles.

With de Caluwé’s guttural roar threatening to suck all of the air out of the building like some pathologically insane dehumidifier, the show was over seemingly as swiftly as it began, although it was undoubtedly a success. Whilst the crowd numbers may have ended up a lot lower than anticipated due to that pesky volcano, those who chose to stick around were treated to two of Europe’s classiest extreme metal acts, both running at maximum killing capacity.

Final Score, Metal 2, Nature 1.

Reviewer – Duncan Wilkins
Photographer – Steve Gerrard

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