Death (to all) + Obituary + Massacre + Rivers of Nihil @ Le National

Death to All: A Tough Nut to Crack

I've been a fan of Death, the band led by the one and only Chuck Schuldiner, for a really long time. I've listened to all of their albums countless times, obsessively searched for old concert videos on YouTube, read a ton of old interviews, and have spent much time listening to their demo and rehearsal discography. I can tell you what riffs from what demo songs ended up on which album track. I can tell you what funny covers they did (such as the time they covered Love Gun) or what rehearsals had audible mistakes that led to the cursing of band members on tape. Oh yeah, I am an obsessive. This was a special evening full of sweaty times and greasy guitar riffs.

Rivers of Nihil opened. They are some relative newcomers, and they ripped up the stage as the openers after Homewrecker had to cancel their opening slot for the night. They were pretty good and they had some skilful drumming and are not to be missed.

Massacre were next and are notable for a number of reasons. They were one of the earliest death metal bands, and three quarters of the band joined Chuck Schuldiner in recording the Leprosy album. They released their debut album, From Beyond, after a drama-infused incident where Bill Andrews (drums) and Terry Butler (bass) replaced Chuck with a different singer and guitarist and toured as Death in Europe. Their classic vocalist, Kam Lee, who is credited for inventing death metal vocals, as well as Rick Rozz (guitar) also played in the earliest Death line-up. Rick Rozz put the band back together with a new drummer and vocalist a couple of years ago and released Back from Beyond earlier this year. I really liked their set, as they played a lot of material from From Beyond, and Mr. Rozz's whammy bar theatrics were in full form. It was a tight set. Their set was, however, plagued with sound problems as the bass was really loud and farty for the entirety of their time on stage. It was not so much the loudness of the bass, but rather it was the unpleasant humming sound of a particular frequency being too loud in the mix. Other than that, it was a fine set.

Obituary ruled. They ruled hard. It was a set of old school tunes with some tracks from their newest album, Inked in Blood. It was a real treat to see this band perform, as all of the playing was incredibly tight and the sound was great. The guitars on their albums have a distinctive, fuzzy sound, and that sound was replicated in the live arena. John Tardy's voice has changed somewhat since their early days to a slightly raspier scream, but it was nevertheless sharp, piercing, and powerful. His performance was the most impressive one of the entire night. Their new lead guitarist, Kenny Andrews, impressed me, as he was able to play all of James Murphy's and Allen West's leads with precision. They played classic tracks from Slowly We Rot as well as choice cuts from Cause of Death and The End Complete, and I often felt myself taken aback listening to songs like "Infected" being performed live, just thinking "what a great piece of music" while standing there and listening. Standout stuff.

Death to All were good but slightly disappointing. They played most of the songs that I wanted to hear, and they were able to play the songs as they appeared on the albums. This is especially impressive with singer/guitarist Max Phelps, as he was able to play all of Chuck's solos note-for-note. He even looks a lot like Chuck, which is kind of creepy in a way. His vocals, though, lacked power. His voice sounds a lot like Chuck on Spiritual Healing, though it lacks power and definition. It lacks Chuck's sharpness and in fact sounded quite dull. Gene Hoglan and Steve DiGorgio were pros as always, and it was interesting to listen to Bobby Koeble play all of his solos from the Symbolic songs. It was nice to hear a bunch of songs that I love performed in a live setting, but I would ultimately get reminded over and over again throughout their set that it wasn't the real thing. Maybe it's better that it didn't sound exactly like the original, though.

Obituary stole the show. I think that's because they still have their original singer, and because they were so rippingly tight and heavy. It was a real treat to see them live. I had the privilege of interviewing their drummer, Donald Tardy, prior to the show, and it will be on the next edition of Sublime State Of Doom. I pretty nervous throughout the ordeal as it was my very first interview with an international band, but I think I managed to avoid sounding like Chris Farley interviewing Paul McCartney. Check it out.


--Sean Z. plays only the heaviest and most extreme metal on Sublime State Of Doom, every Monday at 8 PM on CJLO