Following the release of their latest, crowd-funded album, Obituary was back with a vengeance last Thursday for an unmissable night for any old-school death metal fan. I, for one, being the death metal aficionado that I am, could not have been more excited to finally catch these death metal icons. Opening up the festivities for the evening were no less than 3 bands, each of them offering a different take on heavy music, making up for a nicely balanced line-up. Within this lineup of opening bands (of which all of them were completely unknown to me) were some duds as well as some pretty pleasant surprises.
Kicking off the show was the Midlands based UK death metal band Rotting Repugnancy, whose set I will quickly skim to talk about the following bands. While there wasn't anything inherently wrong with the bands' brand of brutal death metal, I honestly didn't find much appeal in watching their set. There were a couple of groovy riffs here and there but for the most part I wasn't all that convinced. One could easily tell these were competent musicians, which leads me to suspect that the overall sound of their set was to blame. Being well aware that this is death metal that we're talking about, I found the guitar sound to be a little too muddy for its own good and lacking a bit of precision and crunch to give it a "fuller" sound.
Next up was a fresh new band from Germany, playing for the first time in Paris but visibly with the intention of not making it their last. As soon as the sound checking was done, Dust Bolt rushed to the stage and immediately made the jump to light speed with their insanely energetic crossover and thrash-revival sound. Visibly drawing inspiration from bands like D.R.I, Municipal Waste and Suicidal Tendencies, these young-bloods blasted off with an insane amount of energy, running across the stage, waving their instruments around like passionate musicians living the dream. These musicians, fueled with such pure passion and energy, visibly won over their audience that night and effectively managed to give a good deal of them a strong appetite for some friendly violent fun in the pit. If there is one lesson to be learned from this set, it would be that Thrash is definitely not dead, and that so long as we have passionate musicians and passionate fans, thrash will never die. Going all-in for their first Parisian show, Dust Bolt left the stage with some well-deserved praise, having effectively conquered some new territory through their musicianship well-deserving of an upcoming headlining set.
Up next on the bill was a band whose name visibly did not strike a chord for a good deal of us but whose members obviously did. M-pire of Evil, formerly known as Primevil, is an old-school speed metal act from Newcastle founded by ex-members of the genre-defining band Venom, including its founding guitarist Mantas. For anyone wondering where the magic of Venom went after their now-classic first three albums, look no further: Mantas and his team kept the essence and spirit from the early days of Venom and have been touring and writing music under this grossly unrecognized new name and new formation. It somewhat saddens me to know that such creative potential resurfaces only now, since such a band would have probably gotten a lot more recognition and influence, had they formed during the time when Venom and thrash metal was at its peak. Tony Dolan, having replaced Cronos in Venom for nearly 15 years, still was at the top of his game, as was Mantas. M-pire of Evils' set mostly consisted of classic Venom songs, with occasionally a couple of new original songs blended into the setlist. With the exception of a few sound issues that were quickly solved, this set was an incredible treat and an amazing surprise for any heavy metal enthusiast.
Finally it was time for Obituary to play the evening off. As silly as it may sound, I was pleased to find that guitarist Trevor Peres was still rocking his Stratocaster and that frontman John Tardys' passion for camo shorts had not died out after all these years. The band started off their set with the song "Century of Lies" and "Visions in my head" off of their latest album "Inked in Blood", off of which they will be playing the most songs alongside their classic debut album "Slowly we rot". Another great surprise was the presence of lead guitarist Kenny Andrews handling the solos, considering that the bands' previous show in Paris had been as a 4 piece. While not crucial, the presence of a lead guitarist did make for a nice addition.
For the next hour-and a half to 2 hours, the crowd went absolutely insane, turning the venue into a full-on death metal warzone for the entirety of the set. John Tardys' instantly recognizable howling screams certainly haven't aged a bit, and neither did any of Obituarys' classic 2-beat thrash grooves and their ever-so-crushing mid-tempo riff breaks.
In short, Thursday evening was an incredibly enjoyable evening, with some great opening acts and a top-quality performance from Obituary, who still live up to their reputation. Relying on their simple yet effective formula for nearly 3 decades now, these death metal veterans know all about consistency and doing what they do best.
PS: A special thanks goes to the guys from Garmonbozia booking and Relapse records for making this review possible!
M-pire of Evil
1. Centuries of Lies
2. Visions In My Head
6. Immortal Visions
7. 'Til Death
8. Don't Care
11. Back to One
12. Dead Silence____________________
13. Back on Top
14. Inked In Blood
15. I'm in Pain
16. Slowly We Rot