There’s strictly no stage-diving tonight. The event security outside The Dome tonight are taking extra measure to prevent damage done to the venue and its attendees which comes as something of a surprise as The Dome is a hub for all things extreme to pass through on UK tours. Tonight’s bill of heavy is headed up by American brutal tech-death metal giants Nile, followed by grindcore legends Terrorizer, Greece’s thrash-faithful Exarsis and Norway’s Art Of Deception. Is that stacked or what?
People are still filing in as Art Of Deception take to the stage and while the mix isn’t great, is it ever? Right from the off, the Norwegians prove a super-competency in their instruments. Coupled with some great songwriting and structuring too and you’re right to be turning as many heads as Art Of Deception do. There are a lot of ideas in their set, the songs flow and they move mid-song between time signatures with tremendous ease and skill. Playing songs mostly from 2016’s Shattered Delusions, they certainly win people round during the set. One small gripe that kept returning to me throughout their performance however was how much they would benefit from having more room onstage. It’s totally out of their hands but the cramped nature of their performing showed somewhat. On the flip side, all the more kudos to playing a reputable and memorable set on what is, an incredibly talented bill.
Following that were the white high-top clad, bullet-belt furnished Greeks, Exarsis, performing a set extolling all the virtues of thrash metal. Think King Diamond fronting Municipal Waste… or Bobby Blitz fronting D.R.I… or just think Evil Invaders. Then you’re somewhere towards realising the sound of Exarsis. The crowd dig it and the audience wake up a bit but this falsetto-metal has never done anything for me. Disreagarding my inability to deal with the ultrasonic vocals, their performance was a lot more animated and involved. As such, they were better received by the crowd. Much like Art Of Deception, more stage room would’ve aided the performance to no-end, yet having said that, they overcame such challenges, filled the room with their music and pulled it off and then some.
It seemed as soon as this set ended, the hype in the room snowballed to the point where it felt there was as much excitement around Terrorizer‘s set as there was Nile’s. For many, this was their first time seeing the group, its original lineup consisting of future members of Napalm Death and Morbid Angel. Now however, drummer Pete Sandoval remains the only original member.
Nevertheless, due to the reverence 1989’s World Downfall and the elusiveness of the group in modern times, the moment they stepped onstage, it felt an aura had entered the room. Oddly, they begin with a lesser-known album track off Downfall, despite having a perfect set-opener in “After World Obliteration”. A few songs in they debut a track off a further forthcoming album which is all well-and-good and I’m certainly a music fan who always wants to see new songs live and see artists have confidence in their newer material.
However, Terrorizer are one of a very few select bands where there strength definitely lies is in their older material. I knew I wasn’t the only one there who would have given anything to see World Downfall in full. There was enough time in the set and when you’ve got an album like that, you surely owe it to yourself and the audience (seriously, try and find a better five song run on any grind album… go on, I’ll wait). The new stuff is alright but it’s the classic tracks that really set the pit alight.
Sure it’s not as tight or as youthful as Terrorizer circa 1989, but this is their 2018 incarnation playing on 100. Having been shoved to the front of the pit, I’m little more than a metre from Sandoval’s double bass drum and while the mix could’ve accentuated his phenomenal playing, it’s still utterly incredible. His face is contorted in twisted agony as he performs parts that drummers half his age couldn’t do. Quite simply, he’s a force of nature and he really drives the performance.
More than anything tonight, this is an exercise in fond reminiscence. The Terrorizer we have now is not the Terroizer we had in the late 80s and the shows are surely incomparable to then. However, tonight was a chance for people to see this band that command such an elusive aura in the flesh. It’s not a set that will go down in memory but to have stood below Sandoval as “Corporation Pull-In” actualised before my eyes, that was awesome and that will be what sticks.
“Is there any more metal place to be than London on a Friday night?” Nile vocalist Brad Parris growls, slightly unconvincingly after taking to the stage and playing through set openers “Ramses, Bringer Of War” and “Sacrifice Unto Sebek”. “Can I get a Friday night ‘fuck yeah’?” is received more openly by the audience on this, their only UK date of the “What Should Not Be Unearthed Tour” Part 3.
Despite this being a tour in support of their latest record, What Should Not Be Unearthed, only one track is played from it. As Karl reveals in an interview before their set, “In The Name Of Amun” (which makes an appearance in the set) is one of three songs from Unearthed that they cycle playing on tour.
Their set is much the same as Terrorizer’s, where people heckle for old classics and fan favourites. One group near the front keep demanding the Black Seeds Of Vengeance classic, “Masturbating The War God”… to little effect for whatever reason.
In addition to a London debut of “The Fiends Who Come To Steal The Magick Of The Deceased” it is apparent this is Nile trying to pull out a few stops. After all, this is their third tour cycle on this album alone. It’s only natural that they would try to keep things fresh. The London audience is, by and large, oblivious to the nuances of the show however and are 100% on board with having their favourite Egyptian-themed tech-death blasted at them through stacked amps. The triple vocal attack that laces the entirety of their set is brilliant and the drumming is unbelievable. It’s ultimately very different from Sandoval’s in that, if Terrorizer are the punks, Nile are the machines and this is none more true than on set closer and Nile classic “Black Seeds Of Vengeance”.
Nile are a much loved band and theirs is a much loved discography. Tonight reads as testament to that. Much like Terrorizer, Nile are not the band they once were but having said that, Karl Sanders and crew are putting out some of the best material now that they ever have. “Evil To Cast Out Evil”, “Age Of Famine” and “Call To Destruction” are all great tracks off Unearthed that show just how great Nile can be in the modern era. It would’ve been nice to have seen more off that record but, if anything, I’m excited for new Nile material now. Roll on the next record.