Invadering From Across the Seas
Vader, Vital Remains, Fleshcrawl and Rebaelliun
at the Underworld, London, England
June 8th, 2000

by: Paul Schwarz
Stirred from pottering about the Underworld waiting for the evening's musically destructive events to kick off by the unholy roar of Rebaelliun in full live swing, I quickly headed for the stage to see how well these frantic but talented Brazilians would acquit themselves in the live arena. Overall, Rebaelliun fared relatively well, conjuring memories of seeing Angel Corpse play at this very venue two years ago in support of Immortal, by virtue of their roaring but unclear live sound, monstrously loud, stark and violent presence, and shaven headed, spitefully-venom-spitting vocalist. Rebaelliun were more about impact than music: they made a great impact, but you could hardly pick out the songs themselves, save for the dynamically brutal cover of Morbid Angel's "Day of Suffering". Like Angel Corpse's, a performance which did not do the band justice, but which seemed to draw interest from enough people to assure that their next visit should be at least quietly triumphant.

Despite well-executing a Swedish death metal album with this year's _As Blood Rains From the Sky... We Walk the Path of Endless Fire_, I could think of little reason before this evening why Fleshcrawl's existence in today's extreme music scene was in any way necessary -- we certainly had more than enough well-executed Swedish death metal albums before _As Blood..._ came into existence. But Fleshcrawl live is about the only way, in the early zeros, to see a Swedish death metal band play live in the early nineties. The only other way I can picture involves Dismember, a set list composed of _Like an Everflowing Stream_ and a selection of Carnage covers, and a lot of strong Swedish beer.

Next for the chop was Vital Remains, and I'll be honest, I was expecting a safe, solid performance to welcome new vocalist Jake (replacing the only recently returned Jeff Gruslin, who replaced the disgraced Thorns); I was completely unprepared for the proverbial massacre which ensued shortly after Vital Remains took the stage. Anticipation was running reassuringly high for the band's first UK performance -- and there was me cynically thinking I might be the only one who cared. Things were getting hot, the intro to the band's last _Dawn of the Apocalypse_ [CoC #45] (warped, melodramatic and classical) was spinning. Then from the pint-sized Jake, "This is, BLACK MAGICK CUURRSSSE!!!!" And then all hell broke loose. With a more raw and overdriven guitar sound than on their recorded albums and some of the crispest drumming this side of Pete Sandoval courtesy of David Suzuki, Vital Remains tore through, among others, "Sanctity in Blasphemous Ruin", "Dawn of the Apocalypse", "Flag of Victory" and "Battleground". Sound and playing crushed for nearly their entire set, with only a few points where the band lost momentum. But there was something more here this evening. There was something in the air between the band and the crowd, something powerful. Founding guitarist Tony Lazaro realised this and harnessed it. He became like a general inspiring a berserk mob to violence, raising his fist and roaring like some great unearthly beast. Vital Remains synthesised tight playing, a crushing sound and a presence to match their muscular, dark music to result in one of the finest, most fitting death metal performances I can recall: masterful and monstrous in finely-balanced measure.

Enthusiasm was of a similar, though less extraordinary level for Vader. The band have visited the UK enough times to have a rock solid base of support here. And so we waited out their melodramatic-but-fun intro, which had more than a hint of militarism to it, and for Peter to welcome us, in his charismatic tones, to another Vader performance, closing his speech, as always, with those now-immortal words, "Join us... it's time... to die!". Vader carved viciously through a set pleasantly heavy with _De Profundis_ and _Litany_ numbers, and sprinkled with choice cuts from _Black to the Blind_ and "Creatures of Light and Darkness". Between the to-the-point new material and the classy old stuff there was not a dull moment in Vader's entire set. Though not as war-like as Vital Remains, Vader never lost their momentum and I am now convinced that with their _Litany_ material beefing up their set, they are one of the must-see metal bands out there. The only feeling myself and other CoCers I consulted with had was that more convincing lead work would improve their impact on both record and in the live arena. That said, everything about Vader now fits, and the band are one of the tightest musical units out there. I don't care if they keep coming back and molesting me with tonight's exact same set list, I'd still turn up to watch them rip things up and ruin my ears time and time again. Like Slayer, Vader are a rock solid but ever-invigorating act to watch live.

(article submitted 12/8/2000)


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