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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A View From The Back Of The Room: Kataklysm (Review By Paul)

Kataklysm, Septicflesh & Aborted, The Fleece Bristol

The first in a number of trips across the bridge in February saw the intrepid trio of Lee, The Ed and me head for a night of brutality at the ever excellent Fleece. An international night of brutality no less. After the inevitable traffic carnage on the M32 we dumped the car and thanked Beelzebub for the tardy housekeeping as doors had not long opened. We joined the end of a reasonably healthy queue and, having grabbed a mandatory pint of Bath Gem, assumed the brace position for the next three hours.

First up, the absolute onslaught of Belgian Death grindcore merchants Aborted (8). A handsome 45-minute set saw the band blitz the venue with their absolute pile driving assault. Led by the relentless founder member and vocalist Sven de Caluwe, the band coerced, cajoled and demanded circle pits, head banging and all out engagement from the crowd as they blasted through tracks from their back catalogue and new release Retrogore. The band have a similar gorefest themed approach to Cannibal Corpse but what impressed me was the sheer energy and drive as they just didn’t let up. Huge slabs of screaming riffage from Mendel Bij de Leij and new boy Ian Jekelis and a battery from bassist JB Van Der Wal and drummer Ken Bendene split skulls, bodies slamming into the Fleece’s pillars at the front of the stage. Aborted made the most of their slot, cramming in tracks and receiving a huge ovation. In fact, it was noticeable that a sizeable number of the crowd left after Aborted concluded their set, with significantly more space in the venue as the evening wore on.

Operatic death metal from Athens? Why the fuck not. Next up on the bill were the Greeks Septicflesh (8), whose last two releases Communion and Titan are epic albums. Dropping their clean vocals (usually provided by guitarist Sotiris Vayenas), the band charged through an eight track set which comprised four from Titan and two each from Communion and The Great Mass. Centre stage, clad in his trademark Predator body armour stood bassist and vocalist Spiros “Seth Siro Anton” Antoniou. Welcoming the crowd as “my friends”, he was a captivating sight, rarely putting more than a couple of notes together but encouraging the crowd to “destroy” at every available opportunity whilst delivering the harsh death vocals synonymous with countrymen Rotting Christ.

Antoniou was flanked by Vayenas and third original member Christos Antoniou, complete with some of the filthiest dreadlocks ever seen whilst the blast beats and astonishing power of drummer Kerim Lechner. With their symphonic backing tapes enhancing their huge sound, more pit action and increased wind milling was in order as Communion, Order Of Dracul and Prototype decimated the audience. Concluding their set with the immense Anubis and Prometheus, all around were astonished faces. I don’t know how often these guys visit the UK, but they are so worth a view.

One of the joys of The Fleece is that the bands have to walk through the crowd to get to the stage. Cue much mirth as with 20 minutes until the start of their set, the individual members of Kataklysm wandered in from their bus clutching their stage clothes in carrier bags and proceeded to get slightly confused about which way to go. It definitely isn’t all glamour, even for 20+ year veterans. Despite their incredibly punishing tour schedule (38 dates across Europe with two nights off; Paris, Bristol, Glasgow, Dublin and Manchester in successive nights!!!), all of the bands gave 110%

Headliners Kataklysm (9), the purveyors of the Northern Hyperblast hit the stage with stunning energy, opening with Breaching The Asylum from last year’s magnificent Of Ghost and Gods. Taking the frontman to the extreme, Maurizio Iacono was relentless in his demanding of more action from the intense maelstrom in front of him whilst long term members Stephane Barbe (bass) and guitarist Jean Francois Dagenais destroyed. However, the vital ammunition in the Kataklysm armoury is the blast beat destruction of the double bass drumming, currently dished out without mercy by Oli Beaudoin.

With such a back catalogue to choose from, the band didn’t play it safe, varying tracks from across their releases. As well as the opener, three other tracks from Of Ghosts and Gods featured, The Black Sheep, Soul Destroyer and Thy Serpents Tongue, all of which demonstrated why this band remain as intense as ever. The ferocity in the pit increased as the steamroller maintained momentum; As I Slither and Push The Venom notable for the riotous responses on the floor. Open Scars and In Shadows & Dust upped the temperature further before Crippled And Broken concluded our viewing.

Interestingly the audience had thinned substantially as we headed for the exit just before the conclusion of the set. Maybe the later finish time contributed to it for those reliant on public transport, or maybe it was the effect of three hours of unrelenting death metal or even the fact that even in this extreme genre, the subtle differences between the three bands appealed to different sections of the crowd. Whatever the reason, it was an excellent evening with the inevitable ringing in the ears the following morning.

On a final positive note, full marks to the sound in The Fleece which was magnificent. To be able to pick out the technical elements of three bands who play at break neck speed was excellent and it was brilliant to once again be at a venue that so easily could have been nothing more than a memory.

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