It has been a while since I attended a gig on a Saturday night, and was rather worried about the 6 o’clock start, but I should not have, as traffic was far lighter than it is during the week, along with having the luxury of not having work dictate my departure time. So I arrived in plenty of time to shoot the breeze with Pete as we awaited the lengthy queue to be passed through the doors before we were allowed to enter. Once in the belly of the beast we noted that a fairly prolific audience had already assembled to watch the stage-crew prepping for the start of the first band of the evening.
While I know that Aborted have been around for over 20 years, I can’t say I ever really bothered becoming acquainted with their material. And after the show I am content in my knowledge that I made the right choice. Don’t get me wrong here, their stage presence is undeniable and they quickly whipped the crowd up into a frenzy of moshing and circle pits around the pillars, to the point I actually was relocated to the far right of the stage where the sound quality wasn’t great. Perhaps the poor sound with rather weak sounding guitars spoiled my interpretation of what they were trying to accomplish, especially as JB van der Wal’s bass was all but inaudible as Mendel bij de Leij and Ian Jekelis’s guitars still managed to cut through Ken Bedene’s drumming when they were playing leads. However it was only original member Sven “Svencho” de Caluwé that stole the show with his huge persona and ability to joust from screams to growls to barks to grunts without pausing for breath. As I’m not familiar with their material and it eventually becoming white noise to me, I didn’t really pay too much attention to what was being played, but do recall them mentioning tracks like “Termination Redux”, “Forged in Decrepitude” and “Necrotic Manifesto” if I’m not too mistaken.
Next up were the mighty Athenians SepticFlesh with their choral and orchestra infused songs. Wasting absolutely no time, they immediately broke into “War in Heaven” with Spiros “Seth” Antoniou roaring his mighty death vocals into the mic while swinging about his bass guitar. The quick choral chant was joined by new drummer Kerim “Krimh” Lechner’s machine gun battery before Psychon and Christos Antoniou dived in matching his pace on their guitars bringing us “Communion”. It’s at this point I decided I was just going to have to brave standing (or should that be being knocked about) in the pit in order to get the full auditory and sensory experience of the show and while “Pyramid God” was one of their slower numbers there were still plenty of bodies clattering about, surprisingly a good few of those hurtling themselves about were women.
Possibly the shortest song in their set but delivered with all the more ferocity because of it was “Order of Dracul” where everyone paused during the harpsichord and violin bridge before once again slamming into each other. The activity continued unrelenting as Seth sang his ‘duet’ with the choir on “Prototype” and the trumpet fanfare was taken in everyone’s stride. A quiet hush drew over the crowd as the choir poured sweetly out the PA before the guitars, drums and roars took over, making “The Vampire from Nazareth” the heady and vicious track it is, before mellowing out for its outro. Getting everyone to join in as his personal choir on “Anubis”, we also got to hear Sotiris Vayenas’s clean vocals for the first time on a backing track. They ended their set with the hauntingly beautiful “Prometheus” which contains both melody and anger in equal proportions to leave the final refrain ringing in your ears long after the music had stopped. Their promise to return next year with a new Septic Flesh album was probably the highlight of my evening, while the fact they only played tracks from their last 3 albums definitely left me wanting their set to go on for much longer. Hopefully they’ll get a headline and a longer spot when they come back.
From the way the place appeared to empty, I was worried that Kataklysm weren’t going to have anyone to play for, bar the few of us that hadn’t moved. Turns out those worries were unfounded because the floor pretty quickly filled with a completely different crowd once the intro to “Breaching the Asylum” started playing and the Canadian quartet took centre stage. Without letting up, “If I Was God… I’d Burn It All” quickly followed, but it was for “As I Slither” when things truly exploded as everyone was roaring out the chorus and slamming into those around them. The chunkier guitar sound and a slightly slower tempo was used on “The Black Sheep”, a song from the new album ‘Of Ghosts and Gods’, along with far more melodic elements as the song runs its course. Jumping back 15 years to the ‘Epic’ album we had a complete change of pace and vocal style where Maurizio Iacono swapped between harsh rasps and his death roars over Olivier Beaudoin’s blasting during “Manipulator of Souls”. Jean-François Dagenais had a more crushing guitar sound on his own than the other bands managed with 2 as was clearly demonstrated by “At the Edge of the World” but even more so by “Thy Serpents Tongue” when he and Stéphane Barbe on the bass created a wall of sound that heads rattling as we were all banging away.
The choppy rhythm of “Push the Venom” paved the way for the breakneck of “The Ambassador of Pain” as the circle pit got going again and plenty of people needed hands up off the floor they had found themselves on. Giving us a bit of a respite “Where the Enemy Sleeps…” lulled some of us into a false sense of security as we moved back into the empty space in the middle of the dancefloor only for it to have those around the edges being push back into the thick of it once the song had built up to its full cadence. Again I was happy to see plenty of women still involved in the moshing and as a complete aside I’ve just watched the video to the next song they played, “Soul Destroyer”, which appears to have been filmed completely in my country of birth. Back the manic fury of “The Chains of Power” and “Open Scars” at which point I think the moshers were starting to tire was there was more pushing and shoving than running around and slamming. As we were reaching the tail end of the set they started ramping up the intensity and popularity of the songs like “In Shadows and Dust” and “Crippled and Broken” where one unlucky punter hit the floor hard enough with his head that he was escorted to safety then out the emergency exit to make sure he was okay. Their final song for the penultimate gig of their 44 show tour was “Elevate” taken from their second more recent album and the combination of melody and ferocity made it the perfect wind down track to leave us with.
Great show and a thoroughly enjoyable night out.
Review Marco Gaminara / Photos Pete Woods