There's No Mercy in Satan's Oven
Deicide, Immortal, Cannibal Corpse, Marduk, Vader, Dark Funeral, Hate Eternal and Vomitory
at the Hafenbahn, Offenbach, Germany
April 23, 2000

by: Matthias Noll
An incredibly hot Easter Saturday did not stop about 800 extreme metal maniacs from witnessing the year 2000 No Mercy tour in Offenbach. Despite temperatures way above 35 degrees Celsius (it felt like 60) inside the sold-out Hafenbahn, countless individuals took the chance to present their truest outfit including Gladiator boots, leather coats, denim jackets, long-sleeve t-shirts and other assets of the true black/death metaller who is experienced in withstanding the fires of hell. Personally, I did have problems lighting a cigarette and keeping it on fire for more than a few seconds, because the sweat was running down my arms like the river Styx.

The heat did immediately increase when Vomitory unleashed a good dose of Scandinavian old school death metal. Not really spectacular, but they turned out to be a good opening act with aggressive stage acting and some decent tunes. The crowd reaction was OK and I've seen opening bands do much worse under such extreme conditions.

On the second slot, Offenbach already got one of death metal's shooting stars of 1999: Hate Eternal. Definitely one of the most anticipated acts of the No Mercy tour, the band turned out to be seriously handicapped by the loss of second guitarist Doug Cerrito. Even Eric Rutan's extensive live experience did not prevent a rather disastrous performance, which suffered from a lack of heaviness and definition -- individual songs were only distinguishable by Rutan's guitar solos. The three-piece appeared rather tired, did not have any real stage presence and wasn't really up to their mission of attacking with some serious, brain damaging death metal.

Dark Funeral did not really manage to raise the level of excitement with their live set. Twenty minutes passed without any real highlights or reaction from the crowd until they once again ended their set with the rather odd Slayer cover version "Dead Skin Mask". The crowd suddenly came alive, fists were raised and banging heads appeared everywhere. In my opinion it's a rather poor trick, to gain the only crowd attention with a Slayer cover (who wouldn't headbang during this one?). My advice: add "Am I Evil", "Ace of Spades" and "Post Mortem" and next time the whole gig will be successful.

After numerous convincing appearances on German stages, Vader definitely do not suffer from a small fanbase. The Hafenbahn stayed alive and the crowd started to rush towards the stage and chant "Vader, Vader". Knowing that time was short, Peter Wiwczarek greeted the crowd with the words "Kameraden, tonight there'll be no mercy" and the band directly launched the crushing "Blood of Kingu". Sometimes headbanging while on their knees, the band delivered their usual energetic stage show conducted by their fortunately returned drummer Doc, who remained nearly motionless despite the incredible whirlwind he produced with his kit. "Red Passage", "Sothis", "Wings" and "Xeper" were all executed perfectly and once again Vader proved to be one of the best live bands in the death metal genre.

After some exhausting headbanging and still under the memories of Marduk's disappointing gig when they supported Cannibal Corpse last year, I left the venue for some time to cool down in front of the hall. I returned halfway through their set and was pleasantly surprised by a much more convincing show than last time. The band sounded much more aggressive this time around -- especially throughout "Funeral Bitch" and "Wolves" --, Legion's stage acting was frantic as always but came across a lot less poseur than last time, and I start to see that their hyperfast material like "Scorched Earth" or "Panzerdivision Marduk" really works when the band is in top form.

Following Marduk, Cannibal Corpse used a slightly altered set list and opened with "Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead" and "Stripped, Raped and Strangled", two mind-numbing songs from _The Bleeding_. Their sound was inferior to the last show I witnessed, but the band still managed to play a convincing set that pleased all death metallers in the audience. The band's tightness and power during killer material like "Unleashing the Bloodthirsty" is something that will make me always return to see them again.

For most, Immortal were the real headliners of this event. Unfortunately, the whole schedule was blown to pieces by this time and they were left with meagre 20 or 25 minutes. I had been really looking forward to see the band, but tonight they did not seem to be in complete control of the forces of nebula winter. Abbath's guitar sound was way too thin and his playing on "Triumph" and "Solarfall" was extremely sloppy. New bassist Iscariah looked extremly wimpy underneath the corpse paint and did not add that much musically; only Horgh (who fortunatley was wearing a shirt) did a good job, delivering some intense drumming. Hardly ever was the band able to unleash some ice-cold black metal atmosphere upon the crowd. Songs like "Mountains of Might" even sounded a bit commercial when delivered the way they sounded during Immortal's gig and both Abbath's and Legion's fire-spitting intermezzos were also more amusing than impressive. I'm sure Immortal can do a lot better than that; maybe it was just too hot for the frostdemons to rule.

Deicide had the headliner slot, but with an eight band line-up I'm sure this is definitely more a status symbol than an advantageous position. By this time everybody was tired, soaked with sweat or about to break into dry, tiny little puzzle pieces because of acute dehydration, and the crowd reaction was weak at best. The long breaks between individual songs, which were used by Benton to announce the upcoming track accompanied by endless wannabe evil breathing into the microphone didn't help to maintain a steady level of excitement throughout the show either. To my delight the band played some great tunes like "Dead by Dawn", "When Satan Rules His World" and "Dead but Dreaming" with a sound that was far better and heavier than their Scott "where the hell did that natural guitar sound get lost again" Burns produced albums. Stage acting wise there wasn't much going on; Benton occasionally banged, big Hoffmann was probably thinking about weightlifting and little Hoffmann and drummer Steve Asheim did their job but nothing more. Overall, Deicide were quite OK, but after seven other bands, not really capable of wreaking havoc and proving that they really deserved the headliner slot.

(article submitted 12/8/2000)

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