When I was a teenage dirtbag back in the naughties, I had three passions in life: reading metal magazines, going to record stores to listen to the bands those magazines loved and watching grown-ass men hurting themselves for fun on cable television.
My classmates thought they were so cool listening to Meh-rilyn Manson and other koRny bands of that ilk, while I was getting taunted for having an interest in death metal among other things. These bitches never got to see, hear or understand why Obituary was so iconic. I knew I was in the right 20 years ago, I still do now, but the main difference is that a few weeks ago, I had the privilege and opportunity to finally see with my own eyes why they are so legendary. Thinking about it now, I still have goosebumps.
But before I had that cosmic high-five with my teenage self, I had to see the opening bands. I was really happy to know that Conjurer were picked to tour with them in the UK. They have a special place in my heart, and I will not rest until everyone listens to Páthos, their latest and best record to date.
As for the other opening act, Celestial Sanctuary – a death metal quartet from Cambridge, I had no idea what to expect. I don’t know if you like to listen to bands you’re about to see, but I like to go there and let it be a surprise. The worst thing that can happen if I’m not into them is I’ll be watching them from the back with a coca-cola and lime in my hand. So, when Celestial Sanctuary came on, I got to do my three-songs-then-out in the photo pit and enjoyed the rest of the set from the sidelines.
Musically speaking, it was pretty solid, a decent death metal band that would make any Vacuous or Undeath fan very happy. I wasn’t expecting them to go anywhere near Bolt Thrower territory in terms of charisma, but the potential was certainly there, and I had a good time. Was it original? No, but it was catchy and entertaining and for a first time, I was completely fine by that.
a decent death metal band that would make any Vacuous or Undeath fan very happy…
Conjurer then came next and started the set with a bang! It was really hard not to headbang whilst shooting them, however, it was a joy to see these guys owning the stage. You can tell they were really happy doing this, and the feeling at the Electric Ballroom was definitely mutual. With a few classics like Retch, Choke, and It Dwells, the whole audience was already into it, especially coming from the moshers at the back. Oh, it was glorious to witness – although I have officially retired from competitive moshing in 2021 after realising I’m getting too old for that shit.
Another glorious moment was the a cappella growls from Dan Nightingale (vox/guitar). Those forty-five minutes of pure chaos, incredibly catchy riffs and fatness all over the place was exactly what I wanted from these lads. Conjurer did amazingly well, the whole Electric Ballroom was captivated by them. So many beaming faces rushing towards the merch stand after the set, it was beautiful to see. I think it will be very hard not to see them getting bigger and more popular after such a show. Fully deserved in my opinion.
forty-five minutes of pure chaos, incredibly catchy riffs and fatness all over the place was exactly what I wanted…
And then the moment I’ve been waiting twenty years for, Obituary got on stage, and I got to be there, in front of these legends. They started off like crazy with Redneck Stomp, which sent everyone in the venue into beast mode. Donald Tardy was fucking unbelievable behind his drum kit, whilst his brother, John, swaggered around the stage like the nice guy he actually is. Just like that, the venue went berserk, you could literally feel the ground moving as headbangs and moshes went by.
Classics like Don’t Care, Sentence Day, and I’m In Pain were thrown at us like it was death metal Christmas morning, although we also had a lot of space for their latest record, Dying Of Everything, to shine on their own during the entire set. Sure, the band took a few breaks sporadically, but I can’t really blame them. Also, it has to be noted that the newer songs work pretty well live, some even better than on the record, like Barely Alive, War, The Wrong Time and even Chopped In Half, which I always found a bit dull on record. But the real treat was their cover of Celtic Frost’s Circle Of The Tyrants, oh boy, that was a golden moment. Thinking about it now still gets me giddy.
the venue went berserk, you could literally feel the ground moving as headbangs and moshes went by…
After almost an hour, the whole Electric Ballroom wanted more. They were right, this could not be the end. Where were the earlier songs? Would I hear Insane? Corrosive? Slowly We Rot? Would the engineers lay off the smoke machines for a bit? Well, we didn’t get Insane or Corrosive, but we got Slowly We Rot as a show closer. It was pandemonium in the pit, a happy, chaotic pandemonium. Just the way it is supposed to be. You could see how elated the audience was after the lights came on again. Everybody was showing beaming faces because we all knew we witnessed something huge.
Even if the show would have been even better with an extra oomph from Terry Butler (bass) and Trevor Peres (guitar), the entire show was everything that I expected from Obituary, it was loud, it was powerful, it was gruesome. In other words, it was iconic. Obituary have been rightfully named amongst death metal legends since the late ‘80s and it was so good to see them still kicking and being incredible. Mission accomplished.
Words & Photos by: Nessie Spencer