What marks the first gig of 2014 for many of London's metalheads, Canadian death metal troopers Kataklysm have returned to the capital with a formidable line up of death metal's finest from across the globe and with only three bands on the line up rather than the overloaded number of acts that usually bloat out package tours; tonight all bands will have a good set length without the risk of having to have their setl truncated if proceedings run late.
First up are one of death metal's more creative offerings from Italy, Fleshgod Apocalypse, hitting the stage with 'The Hypocrisy' from last year's 'Agony' album. Their take on death metal is a more technical approach to the relentless death metal that Poland's Behemoth offer with a keyboard playing classically inspired music with a focus on speed and a female opera singer. Their stage clothes mirror the music, with the band bedecked in suits. The Underworld is packed which is a rare show for an opening band in the London death metal gig environment, which Fleshgod Apocalypse should be proud of.
Almost all of the songs come from 'Agony', with 'The Deceit', 'The Violation' and 'The Egoism' being particular highlights successfully generating mosh pits. 'Minotaur (The Wrath of Poseidon)' and 'Elegy' are the sole tracks from the 'Labyrinth' album while debut album 'Oracles' is entirely ignored, probably due to the lack of female vocals and keyboards. The audience is incredibly receptive to the Italians but the richness of their sound is hard to replicate live in the small venue. Nonetheless, Fleshgod Apocalypse put on a formidable performance.
Brazil's Krisiun are no strangers to London, playing here fairly regularly. The trio start their aural assault with 'Ominous' which instantly whips the punters into a frenzy. Their take on brutal death metal is vicious but ultimately is thin in levels of variation and fairly conventional to begin with. However, this type of metal translates sublimely in the live environment, affording plenty of opportunities for headbanging and fist-pumping with its high speeds and brutal nature.
Latest studio album 'The Great Execution' is fairly represented with 'Blood of Lions', 'The Will to Potency' and 'Descending Abomination'. One of the best highlights of the night is when the band launch into a death metal take of the Venom classic 'Black Metal', which energises the audience more than at any other point in the set. A drum solo is dished up before closing number 'Kings of Killing' seals the set, leaving behind a solid show with maximum professionalism.
One of the most popular Canadian death metal bands, Kataklysm have been consistently playing the UK and have cultivated a loyal fanbase. Opening with 'Let Them Burn' from the 'In the Arms of Devastation' release, the death metallers kick off their headlining set with an energetic stage presence that mirrors the dynamic nature of their metal. Having began life as a death metal band with elements of misery before morphing into a more traditional death metal act, their music has evolved further into heated melodic death metal with influences facing the Gothenburg metal movement.
New album 'Waiting for the End to Come' is keenly represented with tracks including 'Elevate', 'Fire' and 'Kill the Elite' making an appearance. Of course the band are sure to include their most popular tracks in the mix, such as 'As I Slither', 'Blood on the Swans', 'In Shadows and Dust' and 'Taking the World By Storm'. These tracks have the audience singing along and secure a far better response than the newer melodic death metal orientated songs. Vocalist Maurizio Iacono is an engaging frontman who maintains that all eyes are on him at all time. The melodic passages do little to detract from the aggression contained within the music. The driving rhythm section of Kataklysm has marked them far above the average death metal band, creating punchy passages perfect for headbanging to or crunchy blastbeats that serenade mosh pits.
A drum solo makes an appearance tonight too, which is digested favourably by the crowd. The ferocity of 'Shadows and Dust' is continued with closing song 'Crippled and Broken', providing an excellent one-two punch ending to the concert. Iacono thanks the attendees for their support and promises they will return again. Clearly still enamoured with the live performance, Kataklysm leave behind them a highly entertaining show that is a result of the years of hard work and prevailing nature.