Live Review: Decapitated / Obscura / Inferi / The Materia – Club Academy, Manchester 15.12.2023

What better way to spend some time in our beloved intimate basement surroundings of the Manchester Club Academy than with an evening of brutal Death Metal, and with my head, body and soul still reeling from catching this tour as an ordinary ‘punter’ four days earlier in the even more cramped and imposing Key Club in Leeds, to say I was well up for another evening with Decapitated and friends was an understatement, a massive understatement

So as the doors flung open and the eager contingent started making their way down the stairs to our home for the evening, there was just enough time to check out the well-stocked merch stand and then onto the frontline for battle to commence, and first off the blocks was The Materia with their brand of pulverising Polish Death Metal which was heavily tinged with a solid vertebrae of groove. As they hit the stage, reminiscent of a cheetah hitting a gazelle at full speed, we were in no doubt that we were in for a punishing, decadent evening of uncompromising metal of the heaviest order. The vocals were guttural and commanding, each word spat out with aggression and majestic devastation, the riffs were flamboyant and enthralling, hypnotic and colourful while the kit was being pounded at a speed which demanded nothing but the utmost respect. As the set drew to a close, it was evident that the band were humbled by the response generated and served from the floor beneath them, a fine opening shift for what was yet to come.

As the brief interlude came and went it was then time for the Nashville bruisers, Inferi, to grace us with their presence and they shot out of the wings and into our sight with an intention that was clear for all to see, they were here to teach us a lesson in melodic, technical, brutal Death Metal and that they quite simply did. Boiser led from the front with an almost military precision to his stalking of the stage, he commanded the stage with authority and endearing violent demands of the masses stood before him. As the set progressed there were two definite highlights that hit me like a sledgehammer, ‘Aeons Torn’ was absolutely colossal in its construction and also the deliverance with which it was bestowed on the club academy while ‘Tainted Pact’ surely gave the foundations of the infamous venue a testing time, detonating with power, precision and a maturity beyond its years.

Next up, the technical Death Metal giants Obscura, and a whole feast of punishing and battering Death Metal. From the opening chords, the set was muscular, barbaric and fierce, the vocals from kummerer were antagonistic and intense, spat out with dedication and authority, each word deployed with a barbarous and enthralling passion. The crowd at this point had swelled and was pretty much, I reckon, at capacity from my vantage point, each body occupying the perimeters of the cosy venue swayed in time to the beats and chords while the bodies closer to the core of the floor were more energetic, more chaotic and more frenzied, that being said there wasn’t a cranium in the building which wasn’t banging in unison to the hypnotic arts which were being blasted from the speaker stacks. As the set flew by far too quickly for mine, and everybody else stood in the now sweaty Mancunian venue, liking we could only reflect and be comfortable in the summary that we had just witnessed a near forty-minute lesson in technical Death Metal perfection. Now just one thing left to summarise, and that is simply that we absolutely need an Obscura headline tour in the not too distant future.

Now with not a spare inch to be had on the main floor of the Club Academy the anticipation building within the place was tangible beyond belief, people were clambering for any vantage point they could, just to be able to grab a prime spot for the Death Metal legends who were about to greet us, and greet us they did, with a massive wallop of mauling Death Metal. Decapitated were in the building and with the anniversary of the glorious ‘Nihility’ under their belts the band pulled it out and delivered it to us in the live setting in full. As it occupied the first half of the set, it was hard to do anything but step back and let the moment wash over you while reminiscing over the last twenty or so years and the pleasure the album had brought you in different guises in all of those years. Then, as the ‘Nihility’ set closed out with ‘Symmetry Of Zero’, it was punctuated with a massive cover of the Napalm Death juggernaut ‘Suffer The Children’, and then we are off again with a ‘best of’ Decapitated set, and boy did they bring the arsenal with them for this half. ‘Day 69’ was epic, titanic and thunderous, Rasta truly unleashed his vocals in order for them to maul and rip us apart with every good intention. ‘Earth Scar’ was obliterating and Vogg absolutely annihilated us with his fretboard and pickups, each chord, each down pick and each mesmeric movement of his digits up and down the neck of his axe was inch perfect and captivating to be a witness to.

With the glorious evening coming to an end, it was with a heavy heart that I saw the windmilling of Rastas dreadlocks fall heavy, the last beat of the kit pounded, the last glorious chord strummed and the last vocal deployed, and to sum up the evening it was simply pure Death Metal royalty plying their trade with absolute dedication, belief and passion for the art that they, and us, hold so dearly to our hearts. Until next time ………………….    

Previous Meet: Alt-Rock Artist Dutch Mustard
Next Meet: Beautiful Music Makers Tenderhost

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