Death Comes Ripping
Decapitated, Rotting Christ, Thus Defiled, Anata @ The Camden Underworld, London
by: Jackie Smit
It's telling to note that a light snowfall greeted many patrons of the Underworld earlier this afternoon, while inside the confines of the venue the majority of tonight's attendees find themselves drenched in sweat. This is due in no part to any sort of heating system being in place, but rather the fact that tonight's performance has been oversold by a good fifty to one hundred people, which -- in case you hadn't noticed yet -- provides additional evidence to support the theory that the great death metal resurrection is in well and truly in process.

Amidst the murmurs of some that the assembled crowd outnumbers even the turnout when Sepultura performed three special "intimate" gigs in the capital last year, I am forced to wait in line for the cloakroom through most of Anata's set. What I do manage to catch however is great, as the Swedes thrash, shred and roar their way through material culled mostly from their superb _Under a Stone With No Inscription_ effort.

Unfortunately the same high praise can't be leveled at Thus Defiled -- a longtime staple of the local scene, whose appeal continues to elude me. They are generic, uninspiring and... well... a bit rubbish.

Thankfully the memory of their tedious death/black metal is soon erased when Greek demi-gods Rotting Christ make a long-awaited return to the London stage. Performing as a quartet since the reportedly amicable departure of keyboardist George, they launch into an immensely satisfying collection of classic and recent favourites. "Sign of Evil Existence", "Non Serviam", "Thou Art Blind" and "Lex Talionis" are all given superbly atmospheric airings, and while material from _A Dead Poem_ and _Sleep of the Angels_ remains sadly ignored, the band do make up for it by performing a stirring rendition of "King of a Stellar War".

Even with the bar raised to a daunting height, Poland's favourite sons Decapitated make quick work of showing one and all who the evening truly belongs to. Diminutive vocalist Sauron prowls the stage like a tethered rottweiler, spewing forth acidic vocal lines that are almost intimidatingly aggressive. In the meantime, his bandmates busy themselves constructing a dense, crushing wall of noise that tonight ranks among some of the heaviest and most downright barbaric you're likely to hear in your life. Fourty-five minutes is all the time we get to spend with them before they bow out for the evening -- a sojourn that's almost too brief to fully appreciate their simplistic, straightforward genius. The intensity that emanates from the audience could very easily power large cities, but almost curiously it doesn't result in a frenzied outbreak of flailing limbs -- it transcends into a state of near mass-hypnosis, as each and every soul in the building remains transfixed on the spectacle being played out on the stage in front of them. "Three Dimensional Defect", "The Fury", "Mother War", "Sensual Sickness", "Eternity Too Short" and "Symmetry of Zero" (among others) are all played -- each number as precisely performed as they are perfectly crafted. And, as the final guitar squeal fades out and the sound of cheering and applause becomes louder than the echo of Vitek's snare drum, there is little to argue against the fact that the Camden Underworld has tonight witnessed the stuff of legend.

(article submitted 23/3/2004)

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