Death Angel / Mercenary / Demolition / Extrema / Textures
15 April 2008

Much like their last visit to the Camden Underworld in late 2003, Death Angel are tonight accompanied by a whole host of support acts. The presence of Textures was down to their own UK tour crossing with Death Angel’s in London. Whilst Textures had initially been advertised as being in the middle of this bill, the signs around the Underworld indicate they’d be on after Death Angel at 10.45pm. In the event this turned out to be much later…

The pile up of acts not only extended the gig later, it was also an early start. Indeed, too early for us to catch anything but the last song by opening act Extrema.

Next up were Austria’s Demolition, who I’d forgotten I’d briefly caught when they supported Testament in 2005 at the gig which was immortalised on the Bay Area band’s live in London DVD. It was frontman Wolfgang Süssenbeck who reminded the crowd of that gig, being Demolition’s only other UK show to date. Likewise, as the band plough through a seven song set featuring six songs from their new album Relict IV, I was finding it difficult to remember the songs on that disc which I’d given a few spins prior to the show. …and there’s the crux of my problem with Demolition. They’re not a bad band by any means, just pretty generic.

Much of the new material is driven at the same relentless pace by drummer Tom Kräutner, in a similar fashion to Legion Of The Damned, but with much less finesse and with less memorable songs. In fact its 3/9 from the band’s previous album which adds a little variety to the set, with an “old school” thrash sound. At the front, a bunch of young thrashers love every minute of it, but it wasn’t just the air conditioning unit on overdrive above my head that left me feeling cold.

Demolition set list:
Reborn-Refailed / Deconstructed World / The Fortress / 3/9 / Over Nails / I Am Terror / Holy Hostage

After an extended soundcheck, the six members of Mercenary finally took to the stage and opened with New Desire from their new album Architect of Lies. Much like last time I saw the Danes at this venue, supporting The Haunted, Mercenary chose to lean heavily on their freshly released album. Last time that album was The Hours That Remain and My Secret Window gets an airing from said disc. Whilst this approach results in a more measured response during the songs, the likes of Bloodsong hit home well enough to inspire loud cheers at their conclusion and even a Mercenary chant.

Whilst bassist Rene Pedersen handles the growls and the odd lower register clean vocal, it’s the inhuman screams of Mikkel Sandager that leave the biggest impression. Sandager’s vocal soared higher and higher with seemingly little effort to a frequency that most likely had the stray dogs of Camden gathering at the back door!

Mercenary’s brand of modern metal sounds ultra slick on record and really is a sum of its many parts, which are recreated to great effect in the live environment tonight. The metal ballad Embrace The Nothing takes the pace down, before we are clobbered with Black & Hollow. It was 2004’s Eleven Dreams album where Mercenary really matured and defined their sound and the title track gets the biggest cheer of the night as it closed the set.

Mercenary set list:
New Desire / Bloodsong / My Secret Window / Embrace The Nothing / Black & Hollow / The Endless Fall / Eleven Dreams

With the previous two bands relying heavily on their brand new albums, Death Angel were not about to buck that trend and tonight their set featured the whole of the Killing Season album, with the exception of The Noose. Wisely not doing this Iron Maiden style in album order, instead Death Angel pepper their set with the Killing Season material, breaking it up with visits to their back catalogue. Such a move could be deemed risky, but two things cause Death Angel to triumph tonight. Firstly, Killing Season is an incredibly strong album and live the songs come into their own. Secondly, this is Death Angel and my previous experiences confirm that Death Angel don’t do bad gigs, constantly putting 100% into engaging performances.

Cherry picking highlights from the new material is tough such was the quality, however the crowd really seemed to be getting into Buried Alive. At its conclusion, frontman Mark Osegueda stated, “It give me the utmost pleasure to say good evening London”. Osegueda goes on to reminisce about the band’s first show at the Clarendon in 1987 and how since their formation they had said someday we will play London. Another crowd favourite was When Worlds Collide with its massive sing-along chorus which appeared to have those not familiar with the song joining in due to its catchy refrain. The sprawling Resurrection Machine late in the set was a further peak in the set.

Those forays to the older material were of course savoured by the crowd and it was the debut album The Ultra Violence that was most commonly raided. Voracious Souls got such a rabid response that it seemed to shock Osegueda, commenting on what an amazing reaction for a Wednesday night, before comically asking the crowd what day it actually was – it’s Tuesday Mark!

Seemingly Endless Time is surprisingly the only track from Act III featured tonight and inspires the biggest pit of the evening. Osegueda was so pleased he concedes he feels “Like a puppy on fresh cut grass!”. It’s not only the frontman as the rest of Death Angel, Rob Cavestany & Ted Aguilar (guitars) Dennis Pepa (bass) and Andy Galeon (drums), certainly looked to be enjoying themselves and the feeling is that of a very tight unit that are focused on delivering the songs.

Considering that the band’s debut comes of age with its 21st Birthday this year, Death Angel do not look old enough to be “parents” of an album of this age. Admittedly they were very young when that album was released, but their continued vitality, proven with Killing Season, ensures nobody goes home disappointed tonight and those that haven’t yet purchased it will surely be picking up Death Angel’s latest release at their earliest convenience.

Death Angel set list:
Lord of Hate / Evil Priest / Buried Alive / Dethroned / Carnival Justice / Voracious Souls / When Worlds Collide / Soulless / Sonic Beatdown / Seemingly Endless Time / God vs. God / Devil Incarnate / Steal The Crown / 3rd Floor / Kill As One / Mistress Of Pain / Resurrection Machine / Thrown to The Wolves

By this point its now after 11pm and the bulk of the crowd, including myself due to last trains, file out of the building. Johan’s journey home meant he had time to stay to get a few shots of Textures who apparently played to a very sparse Underworld. Their onstage setlist was as below, though I cannot confirm they stuck to it.

Textures on stage set list:
Swandive / Storm Warning / Transgression / Old Days Born Anew / Stream of Consciousness / The Sun’s Architect / State Of Disobedience / Regenesis

Death Angel