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Yet again another clash of gigs divides London's metal faithful. The legendary Black Sabbath are in town the same time as '80s Bay Area thrashers Death Angel's exclusive UK stop. For the latter, it is going to be stiff competition competing for attendees.
Italian support Extrema take the stage to a small gathering of punters. Formed in 1986, the four-piece proceed to batter the audience with a thrash metal assault with a prominent groove metal influence drawing them into modernity. Vocalist Gianluca GL Perotii's voice bears a striking resemblance to Pantera crooner Phil Anselmo, showcasing the band's primary influence. Unfortunately for the Italians, poor sound plagues them with the guitar barely audible. The bass is particularly easy to discern as a result of this setback, which is admirable considering the skill of bassist Gabri Gionvanna. The audience reaction is subdued but this does not prevent Extrema from delivering a high-energy show.
The audience swells in size for Dew-Scented and their consistent take on death thrash metal. With nine albums to their name, these Germans know how to deliver crunchy old school thrashy riffs paired with a modern death metal pulse that bludgeons the venue relentlessly. The setlist hammers through their nearly twenty year career, with tracks including 'Soul Poison', 'Cities of the Dead' and 'Never to Return'. The music may not be innovative but live, it affords a solid headbanging opportunity.
The stage presence of the band is formidable and they appear keen on playing the capital. Vocalist Leif Jensen voices this, remarking on how their last London show was cancelled as their tour bus broke down. Tonight marks a special event for bassist Joost Van Der Graaf who is celebrating his 40th birthday. Jensen instructs the audience to sing 'Happy Birthday' while a roadie takes the opportunity to crush a cream-topped cake against Van Der Graaf's face. Final song 'Acts of Rage' wraps up the performance perfectly with the first mosh pit of the evening erupting.
It feels like a small eternity before headliners Death Angel take the stage, taking off with the punchy 'Left for Dead' from new album 'The Dream Calls for Blood'. With the audience singing along to the chorus, this new number sets the show off to a good start. The setlist is extremely heavy with selections from this new album with no less than seven tracks from the release aired tonight with 'Son of Mourning' and the title track being highlights. Having played all of their debut full-length 'The Ultra Violence' in its entirety last year, it is understandable that the setlist skimps on selections from this thrash metal classic. Fan favourites 'Evil Priest', 'Mistress of Pain' and 'Seemingly Endless Time' are spliced alongside post-reunion material 'Relentless Retribution', 'Sonic Beatdown' and 'Claws in So Deep',
The energy of Death Angel is so dynamic, it is safe to say they are one of the most hyperactive '80s thrash metal bands on stage. Their stage presence compliments their razor sharp classic thrash sound and the heaviness of their later material translates sublimely in the live environment, instantly summoning sweaty mosh pits and the odd crowd-surfer (despite the Underworld's new anti-crowd surfing signs). Vocalist Mark Osegueda is very appreciative of all those in attendance for choosing their band over Black Sabbath and mentions this a few times throughout the set. A snippet of Black Sabbath's classic 'Heaven and Hell' and oddly, Kiss' 'Love Gun' make an appearance much to the audience's amusement.
When the band leave the stage, the audience reaction is earth-shattering but Death Angel return for an encore with the rabid staple 'Thrown to the Wolves' delivering a flawless ending to the night. Death Angel will always be welcomed in the capital and tonight's strong attendance figures show that no matter who is performing on the same day as these thrashers, they have an enviably loyal fanbase.