Tonight was a special night (September 16th, 2018), because it was the first time that Demilich and Necrot have ever played the United Kingdom, so it was unsurprising that the 300-capacity venue was sold out. It sold out quickly too, well before the date of the concert. In fact, I missed the opportunity to get tickets, but I managed to track down two extra tickets prior to the show with the help of some friends and a little perseverance.
The show took place at the Boston Music Room, which is a comfortable, intimate venue located in London. Lining the wall to the right of the stage was a series of booths, and they were plentiful enough where even during this sold-out performance, it wasn’t difficult to find a seat to catch a breather. They also had further seating in an outdoor area intended for smokers. For the non-smokers the area was a good place to feel some cool air, since the venue was muggy from the constant use of fog machines, and it was warm due to the mass of bodies present. The venue was well kept, illustrated by that the bathrooms had locking doors on the stalls, and soap in the soap dispensers – both of which are sometimes a rarity at metal venues.
I was at the show with my girlfriend, who noted that the show was one of the best she’d been to, but also one of the most disgusting. I’ll explain. Other than your usual shirtless, sweaty, and excessively drunk individuals who will rub their bodies against you in the crowd and who will likely spill their beer all over you – there was also a very flatulent man towards the front of the stage. After the first wave of farts, we could humorously joke with each other in the crowd at how vile it was – but by the third wave of farts, it was clear that this man might have generously excreted solid waste matter in his pantaloons. My girlfriend was gagging in disgust, so much so that she left the crowd to go sit on the outskirts of the venue, no longer able to breathe in the noxious fumes. Another thing present was the somewhat off-putting photographer, who before each band would tell everyone around her not to push her or touch her, since she was commissioned by the band. She stood front-and-center of the crowd to take photos. Of course getting pushed is inevitable at a sold out death metal show, so it seemed strange to clear space for a photographer at the front of the crowd who was getting paid to be there, whereas the rest of us paid to be there. She seemed kind enough, but it just felt like the musical experience should trump the documentation of it.
This was a night of pure death metal, but of four different varieties, so the show never lost any momentum or ran the risk of feeling monotonous. First up was Sodomized Cadaver from South Wales. I’d never heard these UK natives before. They brought their own brand of brutal death metal to the crowds. Their sound is thick with grooves and slammy parts, which feels largely inspired by the New York death metal scene. They don’t throw any innovation into the mix, but if you’re looking for some more brutal death metal that breathes, check them out. They played a lot of new material, so a new release is likely on the horizon. They’re better than just about any other newer death metal I’ve heard out of England because the vocals are all low and guttural, so there’s none of those excessive mid-range growls and high-pitched screams that the curmudgeonly death metal fans like myself dislike. There are some screams, but they’re used sparingly, more like what was found in early Cannibal Corpse material.
The second band was Necrot from California. I’d never given these guys a proper listen before the show, but I expected good things based on what other metal fans had told me about their live show, and because of how popular their 2017 debut, Blood Offerings, was with many fans. I wasn’t disappointed, as their aggressive, blast-heavy take on death metal was a dose of intensity not found in the other bands of the night. Their music and performance was rough-and-tumble, feeling often more like grindcore than death metal. The grimy sound of their music crossed over into their aesthetic too, as frontman Luca Indrio slobbered and spit as he growled, to an extent where you could actively see the mucous dripping down from his chin throughout the performance. At a point, he playfully kicked a fan’s chest, shoving him further into the crowd, and egged the crowd to get more violent with one another, and although the packed venue aggressively head-banged throughout, the pits wouldn’t really get going until later in the night. Necrot are old school and aggressive, and well worth your time if they come through your area.
Spectral Voice were up next. I was already a big fan of them, since I saw them with Undergang back in Indianapolis, when they were still supporting their Necrotic Doom demo. It was Independence Day when I saw them in Indianapolis, which made for the unlikely but entertaining combination of death metal and fireworks. Tonight, Spectral Voice were supporting their debut LP, Eroded Corridors of Unbeing, and it was clear that this band, who also share members with the similarly popular (and highly recommended) Blood Incantation, were popular with the crowd. Vocalist and drummer Eli Wendler demanded that all of the stage lights be turned completely off, which confused the stage-hands, but entertained the crowd. Spectral Voice played in darkness, illuminated through a layer of fog only by a set of candles that were set up on each side of the stage. Their death-doom metal masterfully uses tension-and-release to alternate between slow, overwhelming, and sometimes beautiful sections of doom – with aggressive and groovy sections that would turn the crowd in a wild whirlwind of headbanging, moshing, and jumping up and down. At this point the venue was crowded, but this did little to dampen the embrace of performance after performance of amazing death metal, as fans would shout profanity-laced lines of appreciation after each song.
Next up were the Finnish death metal legends Demilich, who in 1993 put out Nespithe, a strange and game-changing death metal album that wasn’t understood upon release, but nowadays is recognized as an indisputable classic. It is a unique experience to hear the strange riffing and vocals of Demilich in person. I caught Demilich once before at Maryland Deathfest, who put on one of my favorite death metal sets ever. Thankfully, tonight they brought the goods too. Their set wasn’t only songs from Nespithe either, since they played rare cuts like “Two Independent Organisms – One Suppurating Deformity,” which hadn’t been played live in 27 years. The pits were often the largest and most aggressive during these deep demo cuts. They also played their most recent song, “The Faces Right Below the Skin of the Earth,” which they put together in 2006. Also of note was how much fun Demilich are to watch, largely due to the humorous antics of frontman Antti Boman. He was quick to dryly quip back at the yells of drunkards, and although he introduced most songs in his regular, non-gurgling speaking voice, he made sure to croak out the entirety of the song title, “The Planet That Once Used to Absorb Flesh in Order to Achieve Divinity and Immortality (Suffocated to the Flesh That It Desired…)” in his death metal voice. He also poked fun at the English audience, by correcting himself and adding the word “bloody” to speech where needed. The London show was raucous and great fun, and Demilich were having fun with this too, proclaiming that it was one of the best shows they’d done, and that they’d surely return to England. I was just glad, as a resident of Indiana, to have witnessed the historic moment when fans that had been waiting over 25 years to see a band finally and appreciatively got the chance to do so.
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