Nile & Suffocation @ Sound Control
As I make my way to the gig, a leaf falls slowly onto the ground beside me. Autumn has arrived. Gig season is here.
My calendar is relentless in the next few months, and what better way to start it than with a nice cold beer and some technical death metal…
Musically speaking, Suffocation are the kind of band that grab your face with both hands and rub it against the cold, concrete pavement like a match on flint. But death metal fans are sadistic buggers - and I fall, like a sycamore seed in these very autumn months, fall right into the sodden earth of that category. The atmosphere inside Sound Control, which couldn't have crammed with more hairy bodies in loose fitting band shirts, is fittingly suffocating. The band's vile instrumentation is as melodic as Guinness farts, but those moments of cold-blooded brutality are punctured by sharp and searing guitar solos which make their multi-faceted assault nothing but engrossing.
Downstairs by the merch stand a cold, tantalising breeze flows through me. Everyone has dispersed either down here, to the smoking area outside or stayed up in the main room, and as a result things are a little less stifling for a while. But soon the whole building starts to shake, and the roar of thunderous cheers avalanches downstairs; Nile have taken to the stage and people scramble up the stairs to witness their destructive grunt.
Arriving on the back of new album, What Should Not Be Unearthed, the band are in fine fettle and showcase much of their new work tonight. Alongside their cult classics like Kafir! which makes an early appearance, its spasmodic, guttural riff work sounding savage in these cramped conditions, the new material lifts them to a new level at points. Evil to Cast Out Evil is as close to a sing-along chorus as the band ever have and ever will come while still maintaining the unmistakable heaviness from which they’ve sculpted their reputation. Sharp, tremolo infused riffs lead the foray, that chorus pierced with a breathing space which both elevates the song to a higher, more anthemic level and makes the neighbouring technical blitzing even more lethal.
Sarcophagus follows, grinding like rusty gears and converting the front few rows into a complete warzone. There’s no encore tonight – that would require a glimmer of ego, but this band is so down to earth they’re practically in hell already – and so they leave it to gunfire blast beats and demented growls of Black Seeds of Vengeance for the curtain call.
Few bands can play as tight as this, the technical proficiency of each member staggering. The attendance too is brilliant to see and it drags us into gig season in the most unapologetic of manners.
Words: Phil Weller