Morbid Angel: Live @ The Manning

Morbid Angel @ The Manning Bar

With guests Ouroboros and The Amenta

Saturday, 28th May 2011

morbid-angel18

After waiting 13 years for an Australian tour, Floridian death metal giants Morbid Angel returned for the second time in just 2 years to support their latest album Illud Divinum Insanus. Shattering the boundaries of creativity and intensity, the band stands alone as a true icon in the heavy metal scene. In what proved to be an intense and brutally heavy performance, the band did well to remind us just how important they are to the extreme metal legacy.

As anticipation grew for the self-professed “slime-dripping machine”, avidity was also brewing for two of Sydney’s most famous heavy metal bands Ouroboros and The Amenta.

Unlike many other Australian bands that support heavyweight metal acts, Sydney-based Ouroboros came within millimeters of outweighing their international counterparts. Formerly known as Dred, the thrash/tech-death quintet has resurfaced with a new debut release and a whole new outlook on their professional careers. Despite playing live since mid-2007, the band has only recently managed to build their reputation with audiences across Australia thanks to their unique brand of technically and musically creative heavy metal.

Having supported major bands such as Cannibal Corpse and Necrophagist, Ouroboros was recently nominated in the first ever Australian Metal Awards taking home 3 awards for; Best Unsigned Band, Best Bassist and Best Drummer. And during this set, it was easy to see why.

Drummer David Horgan was technically enthralling, while front man Evgeny Linnik captured the audience with an intensely powerful vocal performance. With their debut album Glorification Of A Myth out in this week, the mighty impressive Australian band turned out to be an outstanding support act.

Up next was the notoriously theatrical, melodic black metal band The Amenta. Having been around for a few years, the style of their show is most predictable and often relentlessly repetitious.

Hidden under darkness the band stood motionlessly on the stage, proudly soaking in the theatricality of the moment. Slowly the darkness subsided to reveal all six members, their grotesque face paint and white contact lenses grossly enhanced by eerie incandescent lights above them. With almost blinding flashes of the strobe light, The Amenta powered through their first song in ostentatious form. Combining aspects of black and death with hidden traces of industrial, the band performed like actors on the stage, rarely deviating from their deathly looking characters. Yet, despite an interesting start, the music began to turn sluggishly repetitive and the theatrics became boring and over-choreographed.

While the visual component of the band keeps you entertained for the majority of the time, The Amenta grew a little dull after a while, particularly in a musical sense where each song sounded distinctly similar to the last. Overall, a great performance, but one that only captured my interest for a limited time.

Finally the curtains closed and darkness returned to the stage. In what turned out to be an entertaining wait thanks to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack playing loudly in the background, the curtains re-opened again to reveal the oversized and iconic ‘Morbid Angel’ banner. While the banner had been there the whole night, the red light that beamed over the top of it caused the banner to glow on the darkened stage – adding an extra element of excitement to the performance. And then they appeared – Floridian death metal masters Morbid Angel.

Supported by deafening roars the band appeared in iconic fashion – raised devil horns and intensely serious facial expressions. Dressed in ‘true’ heavy metal style, the band took their places – Tim Yeung on drums, Thor Anders Myhren [Zyklon] on guitar, Trey Azagthoth on lead guitar and the vibrant David Vincent on bass and vocals. The band stormed into ‘Immortal Rites’ which quickly transitioned into ‘Fall From Grace’ with little more than a 5-second pause. It was the energy the crowd wanted and expected from such a grandiose heavy metal band. Visually and musically appealing, the band was ferocious on stage, demonstrating incomprehensible energy that could only be understood as being a result of their many years performing to highly energised audiences. As the song finished, Vincent stood proudly, in front of the microphone and said “Man, you guys have some energy!” Met by ferocious roars of excitement, the band progressed into two of their most famous tracks ‘Rapture’ and ‘Pain Divine’.

Having gone through a minor line-up change since their last visit to Australia, the absence of former drummer Pete “the feet” Sandoval was interestingly unnoticeable. The technical ability of new drummer Tim Yeung was wonderfully executed – the legacy of Sandoval seemingly unchallenging for the young drummer. In what turned out to be the standout performance of the evening, Yeung demonstrated prodigious technical flair throughout the entire set.

Midway through the set, Morbid Angel drew the crowd’s attention to the up-and-coming new release Illud Divinum Insanus by performing three tracks off the album. In what is already a hugely anticipated release, the songs were met with an optimistic response from their adoring fans.

While seemingly repetitive and monotonous, an echoing effect on Vincent’s vocals during ‘Nevermore’ was good indication that the new album would be loyal to their traditional death metal style. As Vincent’s monstrous growls bounced off the walls, guitarists Thor Anders Myhren, otherwise known as ‘Destruckthor’, and Trey Azagthoth provided a sonic foundation that was characteristically solid and profuse. Yet, despite their evident talent, the technical flamboyancy of Azagthoth quickly diffused the mood. In what was a simple case of over-the-top guitar wankery, his guitar solo was sonically irritating and abhorrent, Azagthoth clearly lost in a heinous 10 minute sound-scape of his own creation.

But while the solo substantially deflated my interest, there was never, ever any doubt Morbid Angel would perform with unmitigated energy and technical skill. Their overall performance that night proved how they continue to add to their commendable legacy in the death metal scene. In a time where metal is drowning amongst pseudo-metal rubbish, Morbid Angel continues to be a refreshing reminder of what metal should be.

Setlist:

  • Immortal Rites
  • Fall From Grace
  • Rapture
  • Pain Divine
  • Maze of Torment
  • Sworn to the Black
  • Existo Vulgoré
  • Nevermore
  • Angel of Disease
  • Lord of All Fevers and Plague
  • Chapel of Ghouls
  • Dawn of the Angry
  • Where the Slime Live
  • Bil Ur-Sag
  • God of Emptiness
  • World of Shit (The Promised Land)
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