Their first time in London for six years, Vile come armed with their latest offering 'Metamorphosis', with the extremely attention-stealing album's art adorned on banners either side of the stage. The new material has developed dramatically, illustrating an increase in technical prowess and a particular focus on musicianship. Live session bassist Mike Poggione is wondrous to watch with his six string bass, although it comes across as somewhat muted in the mix. The older, more direct and traditional Vile tracks receive thorough airing, with 'Depopulate', 'Devour' and 'The New Age of Chaos' being particular highlights neighbouring the newer material, namely 'Rise' and 'March Towards the Dawn'.
The stage presence of the California natives is an austere and commanding one, with vocalist Mike Hrubovcak communicating himself as an intimidating character, entirely befitting of the violent death metal issued tonight. The audience sink their teeth into the show and Vile's return to London can undoubtedly be classified as a successful pursuit.
Unlike Vile, Swedish death metal stalwarts Grave are frequent returning visitors to London and this time they have new album 'Endless Procession of Souls' under their belt to promote. Despite their usual adherence to their tried and tested old school death metal, the new observation indicates a little experimentation, with a shot of guitar melody and creative rhythms made for non-stop headbanging. This message is retrieved by the audience who mosh and headbanging loyally throughout the show.
It is not just a change in music that the Swedish four-piece have accomplished; their stage presence is notably more lively and singer/guitarist Ola Lindgren seems more relaxed than usual, still delivering no less than what fans can expect from a Grave gig. Newer numbers 'Passion of the Weak' and 'Winds of Chains' (which Lindgren playfully introduces as The Scorpions' fan favourite 'Winds of Change') are met with strong ovations but naturally the older tracks take centre stage with 'You'll Never See' and 'For Your God', from the Swedes' first two albums reminding the beer-tinted crowd why Grave are still pounding on after over two decades.
Vacating the stage for an encore, it seems painfully obvious that Grave would return to administer the final track, their most famous - the title track from the 'Into the Grave' debut. Unfortunately, due to the gig running past its curfew, the audience has noticeably thinned out presumably to catch last trains but the show is a spectacular one, definitely better than the standard live Grave fare.