Live Review : Obscura + Fallujah + Allegaeon + First Fragment @ Rebellion, Manchester on February 7th 2019

Demands for a second Mister Men book before I depart means that I arrive at Rebellion (still looks splendid after its facelift) just in time for opening act First Fragment final number. As fits the rest of tonight’s bill this is very technical death metal with notes flying all over the places. I may only have one track in which to form a highly biased opinion, but they come across as a highly competent act that sound not dissimilar to Dream Theatre played at double the speed.

Allegaeon warm up on stage like they are about to partake in a 100m sprint and as the Colorado act smash into their opening number “All Hail Science” their speed and technical proficiency are both breath-taking. They are certainly heavy as fuck but this is not primal simplistic metal, each track is a highly complex tapestry of literally billions of notes played at blistering pace. I watch in awe as Greg Burgess’ fingers pulsate up and down the fretboard and more than once the great god Yngwie Malmsteen is brought to mind. By the time we get to lengthy final track “Behold (God I am)” the band, the crowd and even the frigin drummer is head banging. With a new album in the near future Allegaeon are certainly a band I will revisit.

Fallujah are also about to drop a new album and they also have a brand new vocalist in the muscular shape of Anthony Palermo who perches on the front bass speaker box to get nearer to the crowd and frankly doesn’t leave that spot for the entire gig. All the stage lights are dropped to red and whilst this is still highly technical death metal, Fallujah’s particular blend is much darker and menacing than the rest of their tour compatriots. Musically this is creeping and moody rather than pristine and crisp. The notes do fly but they are slower, more profound and at a much lower octave. Add a keyboard backing track and the whole thing has a spacy even trancey feeling and the crowd sways in appreciation as opposed to beating the crap out of each other. Tonight is very much about musicianship and Fallujah are as tight as you are going to get with their brooding sound underpinned by the simply amazing work of drummer Andrew Baird. Dark, heavy and immensely enjoyable.

Obscura are very much Steffen Kummerer’s band and his guitar work is utterly amazing, immediately out riffing everything we have heard up until now. As said tonight is all about highly technical and exquisitely structured death metal but from the very first moments of opener “Emergent Evolution”, Obscura take it to another level. The speed and proficiency on display is simply astounding and whilst the whole thing may lack a certain level of raw spontaneity, they are still breath-taking and awe-inspiring spectacle to watch. Highlight is the rare outing of Metallica alike “Septuagint”, but frankly they excellent from start to finish and the next time anyone complains that death metal is sloppy and unprofessional I am just going to point them in the direction of the stunningly amazing musicianship I have seen tonight!

Words by Stewart Lucas
Photography by Johann Wierzbicki