Death Angel - Little Civic Wolverhampton - 18th April 2008

Since first hearing The Ultraviolence way back when, I've been a huge fan of Death Angel but had never seen them live. Could reality live up to expectation?

Forlorn. Wasn't overly impressed when I saw them supporting I Am Colossus over Christmas, tonight they were greatly improved. Thanks to James for the setlist and CD, a review of the latter will appear on this site soon. Much heavier sound tonight, would categorise them in the blackened thrash genre on this performance. Setlist was "Right On Time", "In The Face Of Terror", "Culture Shock", "Law Of Hate", "Living Death" and "Hearts Of War". Tight as a band, if you are going to see them keep an eye on the bass player - incredible musician. Not very often you see a bass player taking over lead soloing duties! For them to move from my totally underwhelmed list to my keep an eye on list on the strength of one display was quite an achievement.

Dementia. Couldn't find a setlist but that would have only fleshed out a short review. Competent enough but shouldn't have been on this bill, end of. Play stadium/MOR well with a good lead singer/guitarist who played one quality solo. Otherwise a bemusing set capped off with a power ballad, amazed they weren't boo-ed off.

Mercenary. Quality band and I would definitely like to see them again. Who in their right mind thought that a Danish prog/power metal band would work supporting thrash legends though? More concerted head scratching from an increasingly bewildered crowd. Good band, wrong bill once more.

Death Angel. Finally took to the stage at 10.15pm somewhat later than the conventional headliner's slot of 9.00-ish. From the moment they launched into the opening track off the new album to the end of their third encore they were stunning. Obviously enjoying themselves and perfectly happy for the frenzied pitting and stage-diving to erupt throughout their set. It's very obvious when a band have been around for a while, their collective timing was incredible.

"Lord Of Hate" got things underway and all hell broke loose. The next hour or so saw new material interspersed with old classics, all delivered ferociously. That said one of Death Angel's charms is their ability to blend punk, hardcore and thrash and inject an underlying groove and intricate delicate moments, which they took in their stride with great ease live. After the opener they pummelled their way through "Evil Priest", "Buried Alive", "Dethroned", "Carnival Justice", "Voracious Souls", "Sonic Beatdown", "Mistress Of Pain", "Seemingly Endless Time", "Steal The Crown", "3rd Floor" before a particularly brutal "Kill As One" finished the set proper. Actually almost finished the night - enormous cock-up nearly meant the band didn't re-appear for encores. The looks on the band members' faces as they pleaded with security to be allowed back on stage had to be seen to be believed. When they did get the chance to continue they played "The Ultraviolence", "Resurrection Machine" and "Thrown To The Wolves" to complete an amazing performance and set of the year so far by a mile - it's going to take something phenomenal to top this!!

Let's get the positives out of the way first. Forlorn were worthy openers and greatly improved from the last time I saw them. Death Angel are mindblowing and any thrash or extreme fan NEEDS to see them as a benchmark for how good a band can be live. Awesome display.

And now the negatives. Anyone involved in running this gig should be ashamed. Absolute shambles. Doors opened nearly half an hour late which was a recipe for disaster with this many bands appearing. Why three support acts? More pertinently who thought Mercenary and Dementia should have been on this bill? You clearly do not understand rock genres at all. Mercenary are a good band and I will be keeping an eye on their gig schedule closely so that I can review them fairly. Dementia were very lucky to escape alive quite frankly. Did you check the times of local transport before letting this gig over-run so horrifically? Although that's a separate issue for me to take up with West Midlands Travel. What happened at the end of Death Angel's set? Half of the audience had already left by the time the encores started, thinking the night had finished. Complete and utter cock-up all round and the worst run gig I have been to for years.

Never end on a negative!! Death Angel more than lived up to my high level of expectation and played an incredible set. If you haven't got a ticket to see them later on in the tour buy one now - stunning.




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