A Kingdom United
Immolation, Malevolent Creation, Aborted and Noctiferia @ Electrowerkz, London, 13 May 2003
by: Jackie Smit
Many a reviewer has in the past called London's Mean Fiddler venue a "cold soulless dump", while several others have leveled similar accusations at the equally dingy Camden Underworld. I seriously doubt however that any of these scribes have ever had the displeasure of visiting Electrowerkz -- hardly the venue of choice, one would assume, for bands of the stature of Immolation and Malevolent Creation. With its post-war Baghdad decorum and acrid stench, it's no wonder that the turnout is so surprisingly sparse.

Fortunately the evening gets off to a promising start with Slovenia's Noctiferia. Not being familiar with any of their work myself, I am very impressed with their blend of melodic and brutal death metal. Sure, they have the genetic fingerprints of Aeturnus and Nile stamped all over their songs, but they clearly have the talent and the tunes to become a big name in the not-too-distant future.

Belgium's answer to Carcass, Aborted, take to the stage next, and while their recorded efforts have yet to impress me, they succeed in delivering a very classy performance as they tear through several numbers off their latest _Goremageddon_ disc. Although they do veer dangerously toward outright monotony in the latter half of their 30 minute set, at the very least they leave me wanting to give their records another listen.

Despite an enjoyable start to the evening, the show is clearly all about the two headliners, and as Malevolent Creation check their instruments (bizarrely there's not a roadie in sight for the entire evening) and the punters swarm to the claustrophobically small stage, it's very clear that all hell is about to break loose. Starting off with "They Die" from the _Eternal_ album, new front man Kyle Symons immediately takes centre stage with one of the most aggressive and manic performances I have ever seen come from a death metal band. Truly, if there was a vocalist lottery of some kind, Malevolent Creation have hit the jackpot with Symons, who not only infuses old favourites like "Multiple Stabwounds", "Premature Burial" and "Living in Fear" with a fresh shot of adrenaline, but also takes the aggression of new material such as "The Will to Kill" and "Rebirth of Terror" to virtually unparalleled heights. After being around for nearly fifteen years, and spending quite a bit of that time languishing in mediocrity, it looks as though Malevolent's time has finally come -- and not a moment too soon.

Most bands would be seriously daunted at the prospect of having to follow Malevolent Creation's blistering set, but Immolation are clearly up to the task as they fire off the twin salvos of "Of Martyrs and Men" and "Sinful Nature". Their performance is note-perfect -- albeit slightly faster than on record -- and frantically energetic. For the remaining forty-five minutes of tonight's show, they seem incapable of putting even the slightest wrongdoing. Treating fans to old material like "Under the Supreme" and "Those Left Behind", it is the material off their latest album, _Unholy Cult_, that prove to be the most devastating weapons in their arsenal. The audience certainly seem to agree, and when the record's title track and "A Kingdom Divided" are aired, the pit extends across the floor until there isn't a single safe spot left inside the venue.

Immolation have been somewhat unfairly relegated to the second tier of death metal for the better part of their decade-odd career, despite having quietly and consistently released some of the best efforts to grace death metal in aeons. When they close with "Bring Them Down", there's almost a feeling of sadness among the crowd at the prospect of seeing them go, but one fact has been hammered into the collective conscience of each one present tonight: like most musical geniuses throughout the ages, Immolation are criminally underrated -- and light-years ahead of virtually all the competition.

(article submitted 21/5/2003)


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