Obituary + Persefone + Furnaze + Warlord UK @ Birmingham Academy 2, 7th March 2010

obituary

Over the past few months, there have been a slew of top-drawer death metal concerts for fans of brutality to really gorge themselves upon, my musings on which can be found elsewhere on the site. This particular evening brought Birmingham one of the daddies of DM, none other than Florida’s Obituary, who in the summer of 1989 unleashed their debut album ‘Slowly We Rot’ upon the emerging DM scene. It won them instant acclaim, with its fetid-sounding Scott Burns production earning it a reputation as one the most ferocious releases of its time. It’s churning, doomy riffs sounding like they were recorded on a dying walkman(made all the more remarkable considering it was recorded in standard tuning) and one-of-a-kind vocals akin to that of a vomiting zombie ensured it remained one of the most identifiable releases of the early age.

WarlordWarlord

WARLORD UK opened the night being responsible for the attendance of many, having swamped cyberspace with flyers enabling punters to save eleven quid on the door price which in itself is laudable and should be a more common practise, certainly for shows with a few unsold tickets. Having being stalwarts of the local metal scene for a good couple of years, Warlord UK have always exuded a dogged determination and commendable work ethic. Sadly, it creeps into their music often, with very little in the way of variation between tracks and an omnipresent workmanlike air to them, despite the obvious conviction and enthusiasm with which it is performed. That said, it was certainly the best sounding outing I’ve seen from them, with the Academy PA really proving its worth yet again with a mix as crunchy as it was precise, and the band were tight and played pretty much flawlessly throughout. It’s just a shame that Warlord UK don’t grab me, as there are few bands more rewarding of a bit of success than these guys, although the fact that they are on stage at all having resolutely weathered recent lineup changes and personal tragedies is cause for praise in itself.

Furnaze

FURNAZE, from London-by-way-of-Belgium were next to take to the stage, and they were also blessed with a crystal clear, thunderous sound mix. Sadly, they also seemed to struggle to garner more than a murmur from the crowd. Playing a blend of melodic death metal with sizable elements of Slayeresque thrash, they laudably plugged away for their set with great energy, with bassist Andie Cayne in particular good-naturedly headbanging away for the duration of set in a mass of hair and smiles. Softly-spoken vocalist-guitarist Olivier Vermeersch performed with obvious care and love for the material (pulled mostly from latest album ‘No Stairway To Heaven’) although their roots as a covers band were exposed a little too often to really allow them to stand out, with constant nagging Slayerisms the main offender. An argument could also be made for a need for a second guitarist to really thicken the live sound, but for the moment they should focus on creating a more identifiable sound of their own to build upon the obvious charm and talent they possess.

Perse Fone

If some of the more hardened death-heads at the gig thought that Furnaze brought the brutality levels down a couple of notches, then PERSEFONE had them weeping blood into their Deicide T-shirts, as the Andorrans managed to make little to no impact at all, certainly nothing you’d expect from a band acting as main support for fucking Obituary. Persefone peddled an uninspired melodramatic prog-metal sound which wouldn’t have been all that bad – albeit still undeniably ill-fitting on this bill – had it not been played with such an abject lack of stage presence and charisma. Granted, you could argue that the technical demands of some of the tracks needed 100% concentration to pull off, but when your singer is standing still with hands behind his back, we’re talking more about the star power of Tesco Value Pop than Iggy Pop. Demonstrating none of the hunger that both Warlord UK and Furnace displayed, the biggest reaction they received was announcing that the headliners were due next.

After what could be described as a lukewarm build up at best, OBITUARY really needed to liven up the crowd to avoid tonight’s show really falling short of expectations. Thankfully, John Tardy and the boys who, despite playing a set mostly weighted towards their post-reunion output, managed to keep the diehards happy and have us partying like it was the early nineties again. Indeed, with his signature mane dangling over his face and THAT voice, you’d have been forgiven for imagining that time had stood still for a few moments. Opening with a brace from their latest full-length, ‘Darkest Day’, the one-two of ‘List of Dead’ and ‘Blood To Give’ confirmed that whilst a member or two had changed over the years, the Floridians weren’t about to drastically start tinkering with all of the hallmarks that have made them so influential and beloved over the years.

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With Ralph Santolla (ex of Deicide) replacing ex-guitarist and professional smash enthusiast Allen West, their guitar sound was as gargantuan live as it has ever sounded on record. Its patented slow-motion churn brought to mind the swamps of their homeland, that is, if their swamps were filled with the putrid sludge of a thousand human remains and the crocodiles the size of tractors. As mentioned earlier, the distinctively inhuman growl of vocalist John Tardy is arguably the most unique weapon Obituary have ever boasted, with vowels seemingly bouncing around his throat for weeks before they are belched out like phlegmy tennis balls. And with ‘Chopped In Half’ (or ‘Eeeyyobbbed in Hyeearrrve’ as Tardy would have you believe) belted out early in the set, it evoked a majestic roar as any fears the hits wouldn’t come were quickly dispelled and with ‘Turned Inside Out’, ‘Dying’ and a Celtic Frost cover coming in quick succession, it gave weight to the lofty status the band have as genre figureheads.

Whilst this was my first time watching Obituary, there was a part of me slightly saddened that this wasn’t just an hours run through of the classics, but such a selfish point of view was diluted swiftly by the way their newer material (that I have admittedly little to no experience of) meshed perfectly with material from their first four LPs. It was also encouraging to note that despite the tales of drunken sloppiness and in-fighting that plagued the first couple of tours after their reformation (most notably involving the aforementioned West), this was nothing like the ‘Rab C. Nesbitt meets Olly Reed and starts a band’ performance I was dreading. With a stable and professional line-up in place, they put on a show that a band as revered as Obituary deserved.

With ‘Final Thoughts’ and ‘The End Complete’ rounding up the latter half of the set, a drum solo heralded the encore, which flitted back to the later days with ‘Evil Ways’ leading into a climatic ‘Slowly We Rot’ with its funereal tempo bringing an atmospheric close to the night. In retrospect, tonight was only really memorable due to the headliners ,who really gave the support bands a few pointers on how to generate their own identity. Admittedly, Obituary were aided by the fact that they helped define the genre twenty years ago, but it was the one or two unique elements they possessed that helped them get to the level they are at today. Looking back, it’s really time to give the newer albums a serious listen, although I was still a little gutted they didn’t play ‘Don’t Ceeyaaare’.

Review – Duncan Wilkins
Photos – Helen Moss

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4 Responses to “Obituary + Persefone + Furnaze + Warlord UK @ Birmingham Academy 2, 7th March 2010” Subscribe

  1. Sean March 17, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    You should definitely get into their latter day material: it’s less ground breaking than the 1′st album but they still rule, especially the last 2 ‘cos of Santolla. You’d think that his fluid playing style would jar but in fact it gels perfectly. The fact that “Cause of Death” is probibly their best old album and features James Murphy seems to indicate that West was actually their weaker link in the guitaring department…

  2. Mark White March 23, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    Hi Mark White here from Warlord uk, i have read the review and must say i respect what you have said, not everyone will get or like Warlord uk, if they did i would not have to go to work everyday lol, we enjoyed our set even though we did not get the gig in the same week the gig was due!! we had two rehearsals for that gig. Duncan next gig come and join us for a beer, you may not like Warlord uk but you just might like us. All the best, Mark.

  3. Daniel Brrokes (Tormented Vision) March 23, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    Dude, Having read your review for Warlord UK I would like to add these comments.

    I Saw them myslef at Napalm Death where they took the stage and pretty much Blew everyone in the crowd away, Therefore the main reason attendance was so high had only a small precentage to do with the Flyers getting people in at a reduced rate, Most people I’ve spoken with have said that the reason they attended this gig was due to the fact that Warlord UK at Napalm Death Blew them away and that they had to see them again!!!

    I honestly cant fathom your remark on Variation. All of their tracks performed were distinctly different and never once have I sat and listened to Warlord and Thought that there is no variation between their tracks.

    That said, I wondered if you would say that about Slayers tracks? That Slayer offer no variation? As they have been doing the same style of Balls to the wind all out Brutal in your face Thrash Metal for many years and are loved by millions of people wordwide. YOu know what? they will go on being loved by millions of people world wide as well, as they give the fans what they want!!! If Warlord UK are doing the same ‘in your opinion’ then they must be doing something right to have the biggest crowd of the evening right!!!

    I agree with your comment that they are flawlessly tight. Everytime I have seen Warlord UK and Regardless of which gig it has been the general concensus from every musician and fan alike has been how Tight and in tune with each other they are.

    Can’t wait to see more big gigs like this with Warlord UK at the helm as you know that when Warlord UK are on you need to be there as its gonna be an awesome show.

    DAN!!!

  4. Duncan March 31, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    Dan / Mark

    Cheers for the comments and thanks for dropping by the website.

    Mark, you probably know me anyway mate, I’m pals with Danielle & Gaz and have seen you a number of times round the Midlands so have probably had a booze or two without you knowing! ; )

    Dan, appreciate what you’ve said mate, but to use your comparison, Slayer have been around for ages now and they’ve refined a wholly distinctive style that you couldn’t say is anyone but theirs. Unfortunately, Warlord UK didn’t grab me, didn’t stand out as anything earth-shatteringly original, and to be fair thats probably as my personal tastes run a little more extreme,but I stand by my original comments as putting anything other than my own opinion on a review would be missing the entire point of doing it. In due time, maybe they will get to the stage where you could play a random track and we’d know straight away it’d be by Warlord, and I hope it happens, as on the whole, I’d say my review was for the most part positive with the exception of the one point that you brought up.

    Thanks again for your comments – feedback always appreciated!
    Dunc

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