Obscura - LIVE: The Underworld, London 2012

Omnivium Europe Tour
April 4
Capacity 500

Recent death metal shows at the Underworld have all reported fairly low turn-outs despite well put together package tours. So with this in mind, it is uplifting to see that whilst the Underworld isn't exactly rammed, there is a decent turn out for tonight's Obscura-headlined bill. Given the crowd and reaction for support band Gorod, one can also safely assume that the audience isn't just here for the headliner – again, uplifting.

Still, main support Spawn of Possession have a much harder time appealing to the crowd. Whilst the band's latest album Incurso can feel one-dimensional at times, there was enough substance to make it worth a look and enough to suggest that the band had at least something going for them. However that album wasn't entirely well represented in the band's set, with the rest of the material chosen making the band feel, well, kind of average. Whilst the band no doubt have plenty of technical ability, there's nothing about the band's performance that strikes as noteworthy, with the band looking otherwise static throughout the whole show. The band's lead singer does little to add to the show, simply standing still throughout – they end up looking like a very average Cannibal Corpse clone, but nowhere near as good. The singer from Gorod appears on stage for the last song, but overall Spawn are underwhelming and disappointing – the somewhat timid response they get from the crowd seems to agree.

After the last of the support, things start to go sour. As with many of these package shows, the bands are tightly packed into the time slots with very little time for change around. Spawn of Possession were already over-running, as were Gorod before them, leaving Obscura's team very little time to set up. Unfortunately things go from bad to worse – it is way past ten, and amplifiers are still being shifted back and forth on stage. As it happens, Obscura's guitar amp has blown; further still, so has the backup amp, resulting in the band having to borrow the support's. It isn't until past 10:30 that the issues are resolved, way too close to the expected end time.

Still, it is more than worth the wait – with a pretty spot-on sound, Obscura take to the stage and immediately outclass their support bands. With the band's intricate progressive death metal sound, complete with complex overlapping melodies between the two guitarists and bass, one would not be surprised to see it fail live, overburdened by its own complexities. But not only do the band manage to pull it off, they still manage to sound fast and heavy enough to induce the previously static crowd into a moshing frenzy. Even the rather amiable Steffen Kummerer admits some surprise when the crowd circle pit to instrumental Orbital Elements, but then again, it is that kind of instrumental.

Whilst there is a certain signature sound that Obscura have, there are a few tracks that shift away from the quick-paced riffing they are known for. Ocean Gateways from latest album Omnivium in particular is a welcome change of pace, a sludge-ridden death song that sees the crowd turn into sea of flailing hair. Despite the late arrival on stage, the set is barely cut – even the drum solo remains intact. There is some exodus as the band play past the eleven mark, but there's not much that can be done. Obscura's performance is strong enough that most of the crowd still remain for an encore well and truly past the expected set closing time – to which the band play one last song and tribute to one of their most obvious influence, a cover of Death's Flesh And The Power It Holds.

Sometimes technical problems happen – thankfully it didn't affect the sound of the set, but naturally it did mean that some attendees couldn't stay for the whole show. It would be nice to see Obscura back and without the burdens of a package performance, even if it was another band's gear that ultimately saved the day. Obscura do have a good back catalogue to make up a much larger set as well, and perhaps having more time to manoeuvre would help the band start on time when things do go pear-shaped. The band certainly are good enough to deserve as such, and as the turn-out suggests, there's plenty who would agree.

“ immediately outclass their support bands ”

Spawn of Possession setlist: Swam of The Formless / Hidden In Flesh / Where Angels Go Demons Follow / Spawn of Possession / Solemn They Await / Dead & Grotesque / Lash By Lash / Church of Defiance

Obscura setlist: Septuagint / Vortex Omnivium / Incarnated / Orbital Elements / Universe Momentum / Ocean Gateways / Drum Solo / The Anticosmic Overload / Centric Flow // Flesh And The Power It Holds

Written by James Donovan
More: 2012, Death Metal, Gigs,

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