Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Faces of Death show themselves in Manchester

Following several lineup changes and rescheduled dates, the second Faces of Death Tour finally came to Manchester with promises of blast beats, sweep picking and hellish vocals from Harbinger, Inferi, Allegeon, Fallujah and Rivers of Nihil.

Harbinger
Harbinger

It should be noted for no reason other than comedy value, the only music played between ets was 70s funk classics from the likes of James Brown, Bobby Womack and Curtis Mayfield. With all that said, Harbinger took to the stage with the promise of slamming death metal. The London based Metalcore band favoured tracks from their latest EP/mini album A Letter to Anguish, which is out now and well worth seeking out. Their set was more focused on slower stomping rhythms than technical proficiency which helped them stand out amongst the rest of the lineup. Tracks like ‘Hatefiles’ and ‘Guile’ gave a clear picture of what Harbinger were capable of and both of these tracks featured some of the most intense and rhythmically tight breakdowns of their set.

Inferi

Next up was Inferi, arguably the most intense band to play that night. Inferi live up to their name because their set was pure fire and brimstone with blast beats and guitar work so aggressive, an overwhelmed audience could only bang their heads in an uncontrollable fashion. Inferi’s most recent album, Vile Genesis, is a technical death metal masterpiece and it’s an immense sight to behold to see Inferi replicate technically demanding tracks like ‘Maelstrom Prison’ and ‘No Gods but Our Flesh’ with laser-guided precision. It should also be noted how good the sound was during Inferi’s set, it would be easy to lose the bass with so many instruments and orchestral samples playing but Andrew Kim’s complex yet melodic bass shined through the mix.

Allegaeon

Allegaeon came on next and their sound is just as bewildering and complex as their name. Allegaeon are more sonically similar to a band like Tool with their bizarre riffing and focus on bass, ‘Vermin’ is the best example of this as it undulates and shifts through melodic segments before shifting into heavy groovy parts. ‘1.618’ contains some of the most amazing guitar work you could ever hope to witness, the tapping solo alone is worth the price of admission alone and everything is just a bonus. Frontman Ezra Haynes is a greatly entertaining frontman who seems to have a playful streak without sacrificing any of the death metal frontman bravado that we’ve come to expect as an audience.

Fallujah

Next up was Fallujah who seemed to have a bit of an uphill battle as they were only recently added to the bill after Archspire and Black Crown Initiate were forced to drop out of the tour. This seemed to light a fire under them as they proved themself to be a force to be reckoned with in no time at all. ‘The Void Alone’ displayed a more ambient, progressive and melodic side of the band that they have since embraced even further. Scott Corstairs has this Alan Holdsworth style slur on his lead lines that really help the band stand out from the rest of the lineup and their use of spacey soundscapes acts as an interesting change of pace that adds a unique flavour to the show overall. Frontman Kyle Schaefer brings much of the energy to the show, as do most of the vocalists in the show, his clean vocals do a lot to break up the constant stream of harsh vocals which dominated most of the show and gave the audience something to focus on other than intense instrumental virtuosity.

Rivers of Nihil

Rivers of Nihil finally went on stage to rapturous applause and it took very little time to understand why this band is so critically acclaimed and beloved by death metal die-hards. The band started with ‘The Void From Which No Sound Escapes’, complete with dulcet melodies accented by tension building drumming before the harsh vocals kick in backed by ominous melodies before switching pace at a moments notice, keeping the audience paying attention. The band can still do more straightforward aggressive death metal as evidenced by ‘MORE?’. Which is somewhat reminiscent of Planetary Duality-era Faceless with its vicious double bass drumming from Jared Klein and the discordant harmonised leads from Brody Ottley. Ending their set and the show, Rivers of Nihil played the title track from their magnum opus, ‘Where Owls Know My Name’. Those who have yet to listen to the studio version of this track are missing out on a potentially life-changing song and hearing it live is an ascendant experience that is rarely encapsulated. Much of Rivers of Nihil’s set and discography is like this, bizarre changes with glorious soundscapes designed to elicit an emotional reaction similar to something like Russian Circles.

The band is unique and the instrumentalists are absolutely untouchable at their craft from a songwriting and performance standpoint. The Faces of Death tour is a fantastic tour package that will hopefully continue in the years to come as a showcase for hot upcoming talent in the death metal scene. There are fewer and fewer package tours travelling throughout the UK and Europe but with the rousing success this almost sold out tour has been, that could very easily change provided audiences are still ready for more.

Lamestream Lydia
Lamestream Lydia
Self-proclaimed journalist, Progressive rock enthusiast and the most American sounding person you're ever likely to meet in the North of England

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