Live Review : Aborted + Cryptosis + Ingested + Unfathomable Ruination @ Rebellion, Manchester

It is very apt that as we enter the festive season that Rebellion should provide such a celebration of the strength, power and utter hedonistic joy that is Death Metal. In fact the bill is so strong that even though it has been upgraded from the much smaller Factory, the venue is still packed to the rafters from the first notes of the first band until we are unceremoniously kicked out 10pm to make way for a Trance Night. Now in the ears of the uneducated each of tonight’s four bands may sound exactly the same, but those who are connoisseurs of Death Metal will argue that what we actually have is menu of four very varied acts plying four very different and distinct styles of this deceptively diverse genre. 

Unfathomable Ruination are first off and are probably the closest in musical DNA to Death Metal’s original Tampa Bay blueprint of playing blistering fast and heavy for three minutes and then stop. They are the most raw and unrefined of tonight’s bands but that doesn’t stop the atmosphere starting to build from the start of the set and a pit emerges at the ungodly hour of half six. We only have a short window of time before the aforementioned trance heads move in, so Unfathomable Ruination only get half an hour but they still manage to reel off a truck load of heavy, raw and passionate tracks that are brim-full of anger and alienation. As said Death Metal is an incredibly a broad church and this is it at most brutal and primal.

Ingested have been doing this for twelve years and slowly but surely they have built a fair bit of momentum. They are also proud Mancs and tonight’s homecoming show feels in every way, aside of course for the billing, like a headline show. They are treated by the now packed Rebellion as returning heroes and the dance floor becomes a cauldron of sweat, spilt beer and flailing bodies from the moment that ‘Sovereign' drops. Ingested exist in the hinterlands between Grind and Death Metal’s. Their sound is less about how quickly can they get to the end of each track than Unfathomable Ruination and there is more fluidity and variation to their music. As unimaginable as it may sound to the uninitiated, there is tons of melodies and rythmic structure to be found here. It might be buried under death growls and blastbeats but it is definitely there, guiding each and every track. Ingested are a great live act, but what makes tonight is the connection that they have with their hometown crowd. There is an immense look of happiness and pride on vocalist Jason Evans face as he surveys the Mancunian throng as they scream along with his words and throw themselves around with abandonment and you realise that one of the core components of Death Metal it that feeling of communal oneness you get from being in the middle of that flailing crowd.

Cryptopsy have been going since the late the eighties but like Triggers broom in Only Fools and Horses, its consistent parts have changed many times over the years and this is a very youthful incarnation of this band. In fact the only member that looks old enough to shave is drummer Flo Mounier, who has managed to stay the course since the early nineties. This is a much more technical and concise form of Death Metal, the riffs are angular and almost mathematical in their procession. However the complexity of the music on offer doesn’t deter the crowd from continuing to bounce into each other and take whatever opportunity they can get to climb on stage and launch themselves into the throng, in fact there are times during Cryptopsy highly proficient set that I feel that it could have been anyone playing on that stage as long as it was loud and fast and gave the masses an opportunity to launch themselves into their peers waiting arms.

Like Cryptopsy, Aborted have used a rather liberal translation of the term permanent line-up as it seems to be a completely different group of musicians backing vocalist Sven de Caluwé each and every time I see the Aborted play. But despite the almost revolving door policy to recruitment the Aborted still manage to come across as a really tight outfit. Central to that tightness is Svencho (as Sven is affectionately known) who just oozes stage presence from the moment that he looms onto Rebellion’s small performance area, he makes full use of the limited room available as he menacingly paces every inch of the stage. They have also made a real effort with an almost grotesque chamber of horrors like stage set of rotting corpses that just adds to the feeling of professionalism around Aborted. As you would expect this is yet another shade of Death Metal as the band’s sound is wider than the others with each riff given space to breath and in many places groove. And it is that groove that makes them stand out in an evening of three other great Death Metal acts, as you just get swept up in the infectiousness of the music they produce. Tonight was very much an evening for the converted (lord knows what the promoters of the trance all-nighter setting up in the background thought) but if you like Death Metal then the chance is you would have run away from the hordes of approaching Trance kids with a big grin on your face.

Words by Stewart Lucas
Photography by Johann Wierzbicki