Back From the Dead (For Good, We Hope)
Obituary, Master & Visceral Bleeding @ The Electric Ballroom, London, 20 October 2004
by: Jackie Smit
Hindsight may be 20-20, but I've always predicted that Obituary would one day decide to cast their lots back into the death metal game. Considering the preference for technical over groove-based these days though, one may be tempted to say that their reunion has come a year or two late; but for tonight at least, the Electric Ballroom is filled to capacity with punters ready to see whether the Tampa collective can still cut the mustard.

Sweden's Visceral Bleeding has first dibs on kicking the crowd into gear however, and unfortunately the brunt of their ultra-technical attack ends up being lost beneath a very muddy mix. Which is just as well, since the likes of "Fury Unleashed" and "Clenched Fist Obedience" are remarkably devoid of even the slightest bit of originality -- to the point where the band's departure is a relief rather than a fond farewell?

Chicago veterans Master fare no better. Their staid brand of death 'n' punk brings about the same level of exhilaration as one gets from watching the grass grow. Their 40-minute set covers the majority of their back catalogue aptly, and at least half the crowd seems to be quite taken with their efforts, despite guitarist Alex Nejezchleba looking less than thrilled to be on stage. But as far as I'm concerned, when you're mentally balancing your monthly domestic budget halfway through a band's performance, something is most definitely amiss.

Thankfully, very little is missing from Obituary's performance. From the moment they take to the stage this evening, the 600-strong crowd is left in awe as the band shred through the likes of "Threatening Skies", "Cause of Death", "Download" and "Turned Inside Out" like they never left us for the better part of a decade. John Tardy is all smiles as he snarls his way through a surprise rendition of "Dethroned Emperor", and with absolutely stunning airings of "By the Light" and "Back From the Dead" adding to an already pleasing setlist, one could argue that the band sound even tighter than they did on their 1998 live effort _Dead_.

Sure, tonight's performance doesn't include any hint of what Obituary's next full-length will offer; but this is sure to provide ample reason for another tour in the near future, which is hardly a bad thing considering the aural pummeling the band unleashed on London this evening.

(article submitted 31/10/2004)

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