Morbid Angel - Wulfrun - Wednesday 25th June 2008

Looking back through my ticket stubs revealed the last time I saw Morbid Angel was in 1995, also at the Wulfrun. Would tonight's performance be as good?

Hostile play old school classic/power metal with a modern crunch. I think. Couldn't really tell as the bass heavy and generally sludgy sound didn't do them any favours. That said I was relieved when their set finished. Day Of Days was a reasonable opener even allowing for the awful vocals. Death March was passable if predictable. Didn't prepare me for the full horrors they inflicted with Avenger however. Sloppy throughout, dreadful vocals from the guitarist and overall a pointless metal power-ballad which seemed to last for weeks. Brutalised and Eyes Of Deadmen were an improvement but by then the damage had been done. Hope they are better if I see them again with a clearer sound.

Theoktony generated a fair deal of pre-set excitement and it wasn't long into their performance that the first pit of the night erupted. Paul's vocals (growls probably more accurately!) were practically inaudible for the first couple of tracks which didn't help. Better set than at the Black Horse earlier in the year, but I still think they sound better when they slow it down slightly...maybe I'm getting old?! Nah... Technically they are very accomplished musicians, the end product just doesn't quite work for me...yet. I think they are capable of producing a killer album or two somewhere down the line though. Drummer is the sticksman of choice for Anaal Nathrakh and I can see why - this guy is an octopus! Incredible display combining savagery and finesse. Didn't get a setlist but I know the recent album featured prominently. One to keep an eye on, it will be interesting to see how they develop. Crowd enjoyed them though and their warp factor assault was well received.

From the moment Morbid Angel launched into Rapture it was clear this was going to be something special. Thankfully the years have not dulled their brutality or their strong melodic undertones. Tempo changes were undertaken with purpose not just for effect. The faster sections were on a par with anything today's up and coming extreme bands can muster. The slower sections generated immense power. All delivered so tightly and with such a varied setlist (nearly forgot - thanks Frank!) that this had to be a contender for set of the year so far. Pain Divine was stunning and lead into a jaw-dropping rendition of Maze Of Torment. Nevermore preceded the highlight of the set for me; the double whammy of Immortal Rites straight into Fall From Grace was awesome. Back catalogue continued to be plundered with Evil Spells and Chapel Of Ghouls continuing the onslaught. Great to see Pete Sandoval more than holding his own, and for an extreme band to allow their guitarists to shred, loads of really fast, vicious soloing throughout. Dawn Of The Angry, Where The Slime Live and Bil Ur Sag preceded another set highlight in God Of Emptiness, the power generated in this one being absolutely phenomenal. World Of Shit completed a truly staggering performance.

So to summarise; Hostile were ordinary although the sound wasn't great for them. Enjoyed Theoktony but think they need a little more finesse. Morbid Angel are death metal legends and tonight's show proved why. Incredible performance, I'm finding it hard to separate this set from Death Angel's recent annihilation. Pros and cons for both, although Morbid Angel's more varied set just edges it for me. So Morbid Angel are in pole position for set of the year. Who's good enough to displace them I wonder? Can't think of many, but Opeth no doubt will have a go later in the year. Of course the Chopmeister will be there to analyse and advise of the winner!



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