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Wednesday 8 March 2023

A View From The Back Of The Room: Left To Die (Live Review By Tony Gaskin)

Left To Die, Iron Tomb & Absolution, The Asylum, Birmingham 04.03.23

An evening of old school Death Metal in the heart of the Home of Metal

There was already a large contingent of headbangers in the main room of The Asylum in Birmingham when we arrived to catch the first band of tonight's triple helping of extreme metal. That first band, Absolution, are no strangers to this venue and had drawn in a large local crowd to show there appreciation early doors. This 6.15pm start time was due to the inevitable Saturday club night that many venues have but this hadn’t put off many punters.

Absolution (8) have been part of the Brum metal scene for a long time, 30 odd years on and off. Part of the emerging Death Metal scene in Birmingham in the early ‘90s they enjoyed plenty of underground success with a resurgence in recent times.

They play a fast, thrashened style of death metal with their songs all relating to mass murderers and other gruesome goings on. Songs from their album Confessions Of The Iniquitous and EP Temptations Of The Flesh featured in their short sharp set and the crowd loved it. Heavy riffs, brutal bass lines and blast beats are the order of the day.

Front man Neil Hadden has a glint of madness in his eye as he regales tales of the likes of grave robbers turned murderers Burke & Hare and the despicable child killers Brady and Hindley. A suitably raucous start to the evening.

Next up were relative newcomers on the Brum metal scene, Iron Tomb (8). Having released just one 4 track EP Vile Retribution I was a newcomer to this local band. As mentioned previously, Birmingham has a strong influence of the UK Death Metal heritage, with bands like Benediction, Cerebral Fix and Bolt Thrower among some the celebrated exponents of the genre to come out of the city, and more recently Memoriam, As The World Dies and Ashen Crown have been continuing that legacy, so it will be interesting to see how Iron Tomb face the scrutiny of the ever fickle death metal followers.

You instantly get that there’s a definite influence of modern aggressive post core metal in the layered guitars and intense drums, with technical guitar solos and breakdowns. But at the core is the chug chug of that signature death metal sound and gruff vocals, which at times reminded me of Karl Willets (Bolt Thrower/Memoriam) then in the more technical phases we got a hint of Nergal in there. I look forward to seeing where Iron Tomb take us to in the future, there’s certainly no shortage of talent in the band.

Since the untimely death of Chuck Schuldiner in 2001, there have been various iterations of the band playing Death songs and with a long list of former band members it’s no surprise really, the legacy of Chuck will live on for many years to come. This latest project, Left To Die (10), features former Death members Rick Rozz and Terry Butler along with vocalist Matt Harvey (Exhumed and Gruesome) and drummer Gus Rios (Gruesome).

There are plans for an album but this tour, The Reborn Dead Tour, was to celebrate Death’s 1988 album Leprosy and other tracks from the Florida Death Metal pioneers back catalogue. As far as I know, a version of the band with Chuck never made it to these shores so we’ll never have anything to compare, but close your eyes and you can feel like you're back in the early ‘90s with extreme metal fighting back against the tide of Grunge. 

It was in small to medium sized venues like The Asylum that these bands thrived and tonight Left to Die live up to that legacy with a powerfully blistering set kicking off with the first three tracks from Leprosy before treating us to tracks off Scream Bloody Gore. And this would be the pattern for the evening, switching between those two subliminal albums.

The packed room lapped it up, every track was eagerly welcomed and sung along with, the loudest cheer reserved for the two encore tracks Pull The Plug and Evil Dead. Pure Death metal brilliance.

Just goes to show, Death is not the end, re-incarnation is a very real possibility.

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