LIVE REVIEW: Krisiun, Malevolent Creation, Vital Remains | London Underworld, Feb 15th 2012

Promoters worldwide would be doing us all a favor if they were to roll out five-band death metal mini-fests every Wednesday. Given that the middle of the working week is the calendar equivalent of dead air, a tour toploaded with a bill that has Krisiun, Malevolent Creation and Vital Remains as a headlining trifecta is an act of mercy. Fuck it’s almost worth a guaranteed Thursday hangover on the boss’ dime.
Sure there’s an absence of the smell of fried onions and beef fat, watery beer is served up in plastic not cardboard, the ambient temperature’s Arctic—but tonight is still kinda like a festival. Besides, getting to the Underworld for 6pm, then crossing a two-week-old river that runs south from a busted water main, and then having to survive five hours in a venue that’s scented with a complex potpourri of Watain, garbage pails and yesteryear’s urine requires all of the physical and mental endurance that you’d pack going to any of Europe’s weekend festivals.

Those shackled to the nine-to-five will arrived too late to receive English tech-death crew SEPTIC TRAUMA (no one can actually vouch for their set actually happening, not even the all-seeing Sauran’s eye of YouTube). But they might have caught the end of TRUTH CORRODED’s thrash/death/shred rageaholics anonymous meeting, touting characterless hate and widdle, honest chug and toil like it’s going out of fashion. The Australians are nothing if not pathologically generic, but no one really cares, ‘cos no one’s really here yet. On a human level, that’s a shame but, hey, at least during a European winter they might experience snowfall for the first time, and when you’re from Down Under, that’s an experience.

There’s still no one here when Italy’s KARNAK come on, except for maybe a scattering of drunken Polish and Brazilian dudes, but at least the headbang is debuted among the audience. Hey, that’s a start. And whether Karnak are any good or not is utterly dependent on how highly you rate sort of “God of Emptiness”-style slo-riffs knocking into the shapeless noise and blasts. Yeah, yeah, it’s the sound and it’s not their fault, but if you can’t hear the fast riffs at a death metal show it’s like going to a great chowder restaurant and finding they’re all out of clams.

Now, everyone knows who VITAL REMAINS are but even then it’s weird New England’s ye olde enemies of Jehova are playing tonight. Since the departure of guitarist and surely shredder-in-chief Dave Suzuki, not much has happened. Four years have passed since they were last here, touring 2007’s overly long but still underrated Icons of Evil LP. And, fuck, like then, only the super-deluded could expect Glen Benton to exhume his passport, rejoin the band for an off-album tour. Scot Wiley has always been fit for purpose though. And while he’s not blessed in the throat like John Tardy or even Benton himself, this new Chance Garnette stage presence he’s rocking seems to do the super-evil mega-jams justice.
Vital Remains throwing the guantlets around/Drunks yelling between songs | [No Christians were harmed in the filming of this video… probably]

The antichristian vigor of Vital Remains’ set has voided the kids from venue’s bowel. When MALEVOLENT CREATION heave into a set featuring new bassist John Cooke (Danny Herrera’s flatmate, no less), and minus guitarist Gio Geraca due to some personal troubles, it’s just kinda weird. But Brett Hoffman is great, and he’s always great. He always looks kinda shifty, like a paroled hesher mechanic who’s either ripped the beard hair off his chin resulting in an accidental Hetfield/Lemmy, or he’s growled it off. Maybe both. As he would have it, we’re all “sick fucks” don’t you know? Shit like this is timeless. Even the stagediving is classically patchy, with the odd starfish and belly-flop for variation. It’s a pity Hoffman didn’t pull some of his air machinegun moves when the blasts were kicking in, but the air-knifing for “Multiple Stab Wounds” was a nice touch. Bravo, brother.

Malevolent Creation keeping it strictly early ’90s

Hey, we’re all brothers here. Well, the three brothers KRISIUN are. The Brazilians have always been consistently sound on record and perennially stoned in person, but it’s all too anticlimactic when they come on. Sure, unlike Malevolent, they don’t have a blue-chip classic like Ten Commandments to draw upon, but ordinarily there’s enough fuel to get some proper atom-smashing in the pit. Inaudible kick-drums might be the crux of the problem but maybe it’s just another cold start.

Krisiun bro-ing down the house

The momentum builds, though; that’s inevitable, dependable. Besides, tracks like “Combustion Inferno” and “Sentenced Morning” are always way cooler live than on record, and when Moyses Kolesne kicks on his flanger it feels like your having a stroke. But despite the fact we’ll never be shortchanged on effort or vibe from Krisiun, tonight there’s not enough adrenaline to replace alcohol as the most profound influence on audience behavior. Hey, maybe that’s why the stagediving has not passed Olympian muster. As judgement calls go, we’re going with Florida-by-way-of-Buffalo death veterans as the strongest band of the night, maybe by dint of history but definitely for the that lived-in but much loved groove. And the air-knife stabbing actions too; there’s not enough of that sort of thing.