As the festival seasons more or less comes to a close bands tend to start their Autumn touring schedule and mine got off to an early start with some brutal Stateside death metal from Suffocation, but before that was support act Visions Of Disfigurement who were designated as local support though they had travelled from Manchester for this show. Holding the show in the smaller room of the two I am aware the venue has for gigs the band was cramped on the stage but they made best of it as the room was brightly lit by the sky light windows. The bands no nonsense aural thuggery was rife with slamming riffs, saturated with gut munching vocals and blasted drums and whilst not the most intelligent band musically their music fit the bill of this evening perfectly. Airing a new a song that wasn’t yet recorded, Dan, the vocalist, was proud to announce that this new song was called “New Song 1”, which made it easy to type into my phone unlike the others he announced in his death gurgling mostly. There were few people watching the band as the room was sweltering as he said we were being treated to another new song. Some smart person was really on the ball on and said “is this new song 2?” Wow, such an intelligent audience. Indeed it was new song 2 which sounded very similar to the other, much like most of the bands set as their slamming ugliness bombarded the crowd who seemed content to watch from a distance. A few of their songs had samples before them like the pleasantly titled “Clitsnipper”, but mostly the band assailed us with the gore metal bludgeoning of songs like “Cranial Fornication” as they set the evening up nicely as more people had arrived by the time their set had ended.
I’ve seen Leeds act Cryptic Shift half a dozen times in the last three years or so and during that time I’ve watched them go from an inexperienced naïve thrash band to the well-rehearsed technically adept outfit that they are today. During that transition they have also changed their song writing from straight up thrash to more complex thrash/death compositions that are very technical and within the half dozen friends I was with their set brought divided opinions but what we all agreed on was the band are extremely good musicians. The last time I saw them they looked incredibly nervous but as they got ready to play they looked relatively calm and whilst my familiarity with their material isn’t as good as it should be, the audience was ready for them. With stage space being miniscule headbanging with long hair was not a good idea as Xander’s hair kept getting caught on the bassist’s guitar. Not sure what they opened with but as they got under way the flurry of riffs was synched to perfection as both guitarists worked in unison perfectly backed up by John’s precision bass playing as he pulled off all sorts of techniques during the set. “Cosmic Dreams” was massively Death influenced to my wizened ears which should have been expected judging by the shirts being sported by Xander. Quite clearly the band has a good following in Leeds and they had turned out in force to follow the band as the songs were riddled with complicated bass runs and guitar flurries which were excellent to watch as the drummer did a superb job keeping it all together in the cramped space he had. I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed their set, but the crowd definitely did as they grasped the fine intricacies of their songs and as their set closed they had a cheeky little run at “The Philosopher” (Death) and I did wonder if the crowd noticed.
As the evening drew on I was relieved that the crowd numbers had steadily increased as initially when I got there only about 20 people were there, as by now the place was fairly full and absolutely sweltering and must have been nightmarish to play in. As the stage was cleared of the second drum kit and the sound check was made Suffocation came on stage a few minutes early and promptly blasted into “Thrones Of Blood” from the “Pierced From Within” album which caught me out somewhat, expecting something from the new album. Current live vocalist Kevin Muller was all over the audience and completely engaged as the set continued with the titled track from the said “Pierced From Within” album. The sound was crisp on the guitar though a little weak on the bass which steadily amplified during the set as the drummer Eric Morotti proceeded to pulverise the crowd with nothing short of a lesson in outright sonic percussive demolition for 60 minutes. A short pause ensued for band introductions, as Terrance Hobbs was the only original guy in the line-up and a new song from the latest album “…Of The Dark Light” called “Return To The Abyss” was aired. The energy and power that poured from the stage was staggering as the singer remorselessly asked for action from the audience who, admittedly were rather shy at this juncture. I didn’t expect it but “Funeral Inception” was a massive bonus for me personally from the colossal “Despise The Sun” EP as I was still waiting for the bass to be louder but got past caring. Sweat was pouring from the band but they went straight into another new song “Clarity Through Deprivation” as their ultra-tech onslaught matched their equally catchy slamming brutality that spawned a whole new genre of bands.
The band had to pause to wipe their faces, the place was ridiculously hot just for us standing there, never mind playing as Kevin dedicated the next song, “Devoid Of Truth” (another song I didn’t expect from the “Despise The Sun” EP) to a few of the guys from Ingested who had turned up. There was an almost mechanical precision to Suffocation’s playing, inhuman extremity as the set went back a few years to the first album and the title track of the first album, namely “Effigy Of The Forgotten”. The pioneering machine gun blasting detonated from the stage as a pit finally opened up and was followed by another new song “Your Last Breaths” and I noticed just how seamless the new stuff sat with the old stuff and how intense the material was. “Liege Of Inveracity” was as beastly as ever as they bombarded the audience with little chat as it was obvious the heat was overwhelming the band. “Catatonia” was devastating but not as colossal as “Infecting The Crypts” which got the crowd in a modicum of synchro headbanging and understandably the band ended the set and quickly got off stage to get some air as the place really was oppressively hot. Suffocation may not have had the band members we know but they put on a death metal show as it should be, complete and utter sonic devastation.
WORDS: MARTIN HARRIS
PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDY POUNTNEY