Opening the show is The Amenta who were in London last year for the London Deathfest. With a pensive and thin crowd to win over, the quintet's effort mimic that of a headlining act. Their industrial-stained death metal is rather unusual and the sound is not the most accommodating for their music, slurring it compared to their recorded outputs. Nonetheless, the clinical nature of industrial compliments the blistering brutality of their death metal. Vocalist Cain Cressel is an entertaining frontman with a somewhat sinister stage presence. Despite the crowd's subdued reaction, these Aussies prove that there is still fresh ground to tread in death metal.
Next up is another Aussie act, the well established Psycroptic, who share drummer David Haley with The Amenta. Their second time in the capital this year, the four-piece waste no time pummelling the audience with their slick technical death metal. Opening with the tasty 'Euphorinasia' from this year's 'Inherited Repression', Psycroptic's set is a master class in memorable, technical metal. Brothers David and Joe Haley are simply fascinating to watch, particular considering the former's earlier set with The Amenta- apparently his endurance is very high. 'Ob(Servant)', 'Carriers of the Plague' and 'Lacertine Forest' represent the best of Psycroptic's discography and older closer 'The Colour of Sleep' goes down a storm with the fans. Maybe one day, London will see Psycroptic headline.
Murder metal maestros Macabre appear to be a love-hate kind of band. Having formed in 1984, impressively the group's three members have been waving the banner for serial killers in metal all these years. Despite the date of their formation, their sound is a far cry from the usual glut of old school metal, with catchy grooves, a little grindcore and some very-unmetal riffs that are quite difficult to describe. Sadly, the vocals are low in the mix so the humorous lyrics are not so clearly audible, not to mention the unorthodox screeches the band employ. Frontman Corporate Death takes time to fill in the audience what each grisly song is about in an almost cartoon-ish manner that compliments their mood. Playing a fair representation of their career, the Chicago-based band treat the audience to such gruesome cuts from the older 'Hitchhiker' and 'Scrub A Dub Dub' to last year's 'Nero's Inferno' and 'The Bender Brothers', the latter employing a good dose of country in the hillbilly track and still maintaining a strong mosh pit! Unfortunately, the trio has to cut their set short but there is mass disapproval from the crowd. Hopefully Macabre will return to London again with a full set.
And finally, Obituary take the stage to the jam-packed, sold out venue. With a set with material exclusively from 'Slowly We Rot', 'Cause of Death' and 'The End Complete', there are plenty of classics and rarities tossed out that are usually scythed out from the standard Obituary set. 'Infected', 'Gates to Hell' and 'Killing Time' all rear their head, alongside the usual old school staples including 'Chopped in Half', 'Turned Inside Out', 'Body Bag' and 'The End Complete'. Frontman John Tardy retains his bouncing stage presence, completely with lengthy blonde waves looking particularly picturesque, and his trademark growl. The old school guitar tone is replicated is perfectly. The slow doom-metal influence in their death metal conjures infinite headbanging and the faster moments set the pace for breakneck mosh pits.
When the band vacate the stage, the audience resolutely wait for their encore, well knowing that this night is not over yet. Drummer Donald Tardy treats the audience to a drum solo to begin the encore and is soon joined by the rest of the Floridians for 'I'm in Pain'. The last song comes as no surprise with its foreboding intro that leads to a frenzy of thrashing - it is of course 'Slowly We Rot', a vicious number that shows after this lengthy night, the audience still has the energy to lay waste to the venue. An ovation fit for a king greets Obituary as they vacate the stage.
This is certainly a contender for gig of the year and those who missed out will be kicking themselves over what could possibly be the best Obituary setlist in a long time.