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Death Angel, Disbelief, Darkane, Mnemic, Mystic Prophecy
4 November 2003
Camden Underworld, London
First up tonight, following a last minute bill swap with Mnemic, were international power metallers Mystic Prophecy. The band packs some pedigree in the genre featuring current and ex-members of Stormwitch, Dream Evil, Firewind and Raise Hell. With a set exclusive taken from their latest album Regressus, Mystic Prophecy set about fitting as much metal into their short set as is possible. This is Gus G`s second visit to London within the last two months having recently passed through with Dream Evil. The styles of the two bands are not dissimilar, though, with the powerful drumming of Dennis Ekdahl, Mystic Prophecy take a slightly more aggressive approach and also allow more of a free reign to showcase Gus` guitar talents. Tonight he`s joined by a session guitarist to bolster the live sound making the likes of Forgotten Soul and Lords Of Pain heavier than on record. Aside from repeatedly accidentally unplugging his microphone, vocalist Roberto Dimitri Liapakis puts on an impressive display and, rounded out by bassist Martin Albrecht on bass, the band puts on a very professional performance with great stage presence. The band were clearly enjoying their short set and by closer Eternal Flame, so were the majority of those there early enough to witness it.
Mystic Prophecy Set List:
Night Of The Storm / Forgotten Soul / The Land Of The Dead / Lords Of Pain / In Your Sins / When Demons Return / Eternal Flame
After a very short break Denmark`s Mnemic take the stage, the whole band kitted out in mesh shirts, save for the David Beckham look-alike vocalist Michael Bøgballe, who`s clothing looks like he`s been torched. It`s a futurist look for a futurist sounding band. There`s been quite a buzz around Mnemic and a lazy obvious comparison would be to Fear Factory, though there`s elements of both Meshuggah and Frontline Assembly, who a conversation with Bøgballe later reveals he`s a fan of and who`s Rhys Fulber has recently remixed a Mnemic track. Mnemic`s sound is underpinned by a dense array of samples and back beats augmented by the crushing guitars of Mircea Gabriel Eftemie and Rune Stigart. Opener Liquid seems to take The Underworld off guard, however by The Naked & The Dead there`s many a head nodding in approval. Bassist, Obeast, could gurn for Denmark, his face a constant picture of pain right through to trump card Ghost which closes a blistering set.
Mnemic Set List:
Liquid / The Naked & The Dead / DB`XX`D / Blood Stained / Ghost
The start of Darkane`s set is blighted by technical problems with Jörgen Löfberg bass entirely absent from the live mix. So much so that I completely forgot to take note of the opening song. Briefly expanded to a six piece with the addition of a soundman resembling a fisherman, eventually he does his job and its full steam ahead with Violence From Within. Having been hugely impressed by Darkane`s last trip through London on the No Mercy Fest, again with Death Angel, that opinion remains unchanged tonight. The set is mainly taken from last album Expanding Senses with a brief trip back to the newly re-released Rusted Angel album for closer Convicted. The striking shaven headed Christofer Malmström leads the guitar attack with some stunning lead work on such tracks as the Testament-like Chaos vs Order. It is indeed that Bay Area crunch that springs to mind rather than the usual Swedish Dödsmetal that might be expected. Vocalist Andreas Sydow`s aggressive approach lends a modern slant to Darkane`s attack, though melody is not lost on him either as demonstrated on Innocence Is Gone. Darkane are off now to record a new album and one I certainly look forward to hearing.
Darkane Set List:
? / Violence From Within / Chaos Vs Order / Fatal Impact / Innocence Gone / Convicted
Disbelief was the only band on tonight`s bill that I had previously heard nothing by and I was expecting a brutal speedy death metal attack. However, although brutal in a very heavy way, the band churn out riff after riff of doomy Six Feet Under like death. Six Feet Under was the band that continually sprung to mind particularly due to the both physical and vocal resemblance of vocalist Karsten Jäger. The death metal gone slightly stoner approach was backed up on noticing Jäger is wearing a Queens Of The Stone Age t-shirt, though there were also elements of Neurosis like discord. The crowd have however been punished by three other bands already and appear to be taking a collective breather prior to Death Angel`s set and perhaps Disbelief would have faired better a little further down the bill. Tonight`s performance certainly justified their high position on the bill and their line in 66Sick t-shirts is also to be commended.
Disbelief Set List:
The Beginning Of Doubt (Intro) / To The Sky / Ethic Instinct / Misery / No Control / It`s God Given / Death Will Score / God Master
So to the main course, having earlier had the surreal experience of sitting next to Andy Galleon and Ted Aguilar as they ate their main courses in the pub earlier. By this point The Underworld is rammed and Death Angel arrive to a returning heroes welcome with Seemingly Endless Time. Without a pause for breath it`s right back to The Ultra-Violence with Evil Priest and, my personal favourite, Voracious Souls.
As opposed to many of the other thrash bands that have recently returned, Death Angel must have arrived in Dr Who`s Tardis as they look no older than when they toured Act III. The sole change in personal is new guitarist Ted Aguilar, in place of Gus Pepa, who tonight is apparently trying to blend into his London surroundings in a bowler hat.
Singer, Mark Osegueda announces that tonight as oppose to the recent No Mercy appearance, Death Angel have lots of time to play lots of songs and for me they could have played their whole discography and I still wouldn`t have tired. Osegueda himself is a blur of energy from start to finish with dreads that he`d probably trip over if they grew any longer. He hands the lead line of Third Floor over the crowd who duly respond whilst the floor itself is a mass of body movement.
Both acoustic songs Veil Of Deception and Room With A View make welcome appearances tonight seeing Rob Cavestany taking some of the lead vocals, the later song building to dramatic climax. Similarly Dennis Pepa, who`s latest look is of a spiky haired punk complete with studded denim jacket and GBH patches, takes over the vocals for a highly charged rendition of Thrashers.
There`s a slight lull in crowd activity as we respectfully try to take in Five Steps, Osegueda pointing out "Anyone wondering what new Death Angel sounds like, well it sounds like that". A new album is set to hit the racks in March or April 2004 and this song, mixing the brutality of The Ultra-Violence with the maturity of Act III indicates it`s one to wait for with baited breath.
Inevitably with so many bands on the bill, things aren`t running to time and the band are forced to cut a Death Angel medley and a song listed as ? , on the set list I claimed. Last song Kill As One is dedicated to all those who keep coming back again and again to see Death Angel and on this performance we`ll be back again, with more friends in tow.
The future looks bright for Death Angel. With material as fresh and relevant today as it was back at the height of thrash, they have the opportunity to take this much further than a mere nostalgia trip and their enthusiasm tonight hints that the new album next year is one not to be missed.
As an aside, to demonstrate the devotion of Death Angel`s following, there`s a massive scrap to try and claim Ted Aguilar`s plectrums at the end of the gig and with one landing next to my foot I casually placed my foot on it. This was however spotted by one crazed fan crawling around on all fours. All of a sudden he`s bashing on my foot for all he`s worth shouting "Mine, mine!", eventually grabbing my leg and literally throwing me to the floor! I decide to let this go, but am then amused to see him still searching frantically where I had been stood and then I discovered the plectrum had become stuck on the sole of my shoe. All`s fair in metal and souvenir hunting and I`d claimed the set list to boot!
Death Angel Set List:
Seemingly Endless Time / Evil Priest / Voracious Souls / 3rd Floor / Disturbing The Peace / Mistress Of Pain / Veil Of Deception / Five Steps / Stagnant / Bored / Killers Intro / Thrashers / Room With A View / Kill As One