17th January 2020
Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW
Supports: LO!, Wormrot
Only the third Friday of the year, and already a crushing Death Metal show! Obituary with the 30 Years of Cause of Death tour rolls into Sydney after destroying Japan and half of Australia! The band actually haven’t been here now for five years, previously on their Rotting Across the Pacific Tour, and they were amazing, if only a four piece for the tour, and so they have a lot to live up to. And really, what better album to base this tour on, then the 1990 Death Metal masterpiece, Cause of Death. It is hard to believe that this album is now thirty years old. I remember vividly when it was released and how much the band had grown from their terrifying, but brilliant debut, Slowly We Rot in 1989. Just to reflect on this album for a second, it came out at a time when Death Metal was establishing itself and it was from the Florida scene and the production desk of Scott Burns. The songs, the production, the intensity, the album cover and the solidification of the scene, made this album a staple for all late 80’s metal heads. So to be here tonight, thirty years on, to celebrate the release, is amazing, a privilege, and forgive me if I have a wet eye or two during the evening.
The Metro is appropriately full tonight, good to see on the back of a number of venues selling out prior to the band arriving in the country. The audience also has a generational overlap as well, quite a percentage of the crowd would not have been alive in 1990, but to balance it out, the grey hair and weathered faces of the remainder would suggest there is a reasonable percentage who were!!
Local band LO! Are opening the evening, a band who have played some great shows in Sydney, supported a number if high profile international acts, and I am looking forward to their set tonight, especially on the back of their third album Vestigial. The band have a great presence, and tonight they commanded The Metro stage. The band have a great dynamic and click sonically, and visually on stage. I was impressed with all songs tonight, however, the lead vocalist didn’t introduce any so unfortunately I can’t relay any titles here. There is definitely bigger things in store for these guys, I will definitely be following their career with interest, but please announce some of your songs before playing them at future gigs to support punters who are unfamiliar with your material.
Next up were the Singaporeans Wormrot, now what can I say about this set…Wow! Intense sums this set up one hundred percent. They are a grindcore three piece – guitars, drums and vocals. A lot of the audience were familiar with these guys, even if I wasn’t, but by the end of the set I handle on them. They are a very traditional grindcore outfit and they had a real groove. The groove would shine through the mayhem from time to time, and it really added to the dynamics of the set. These guys were amazing, I thoroughly immersed myself within the chaos and would love to see them do a longer set in the future, and considering the reception they received, hopefully this will be happening in Australia sooner rather than later.
By the time Obituary hit the stage the room is packed and there is a great vibe in the venue. However, before I get to the set I want to just recap on the VIP Meet and Greet experience tonight, as I was fortunate enough to be able to attend. The band were very humble in this forum and very engaging. After signing items and being photographed, the tour manager Dysie led a question and answer experience with the band. The band sincerely mixed with the attendees and answered all questions with respect and decorum. After witnessing this part of the evening I can say that it would be very difficult to find another band who is as easy going and obliging as Obituary. A fantastic experience, and a great way to begin the evening.
Now, back to the reason why we are here! To be expected the band opened with a number of tracks from the band’s latest album, the brilliant 2017 self-titled Obituary. They played three tracks from the album to set the scene, the most crushing and impressive being ‘A Lesson in Vengeance’, just amazing. From here it was ‘Cause of Death’, from ‘Infected’ to ‘Turned Inside Out’. There was no commentary, no introduction of what was next, no inane chatter or grandstanding, just crushing track, after track, after track, until the album was complete. We knew what we were in for, we knew what was coming next, and so Obituary just played. The band were superb and really paid respectful homage to their classic sophomore album. They had a great sound, were extremely tight and they fed off the energy in the room. Everyone here tonight was familiar with this masterpiece, thrashing, head banging, and yes, even growling, in unison. During the Meet and Greet, I actually asked the band that when they were recording the album some thirty years ago, if they felt that they were producing a master piece, that would become a timeless classic, and they said quite sincerely and openly, “No,” they had no idea that thirty years on they would be paying homage to the album and still celebrating its richness and intensity. It is an album that has really stood the test of time, and sounds as fresh, material wise, as well as production wise, three decades on.
To focus a little on front man John Tardy, he comes across as a bloke you would have a beer with, but not one that would normally sing the way he does!! His voice was right on tonight, and he sounded amazing. He doesn’t go in for any of the metal front man antics or laborious commentary, he just does his job! He is definitely one of the most unique sounding vocalists in the scene. I would love to know what his warm up routine consists of!! Brother Donald was amazing, a real stand out, but he always is! He has a real groove to his playing for a Death Metal drummer and this gives Obituary a whole different dimension. Terry Butler also needs a mention here, he is not only an icon in the Death Metal scene, but he is a great bass player, a solid foundation for the sound of this band and he was bloody loud tonight! Lead guitarist, Kenny Andrews, was extremely impressive, his navigation of the James Murphy (lead guitarist on Cause of Death) solos from Cause of Death were fantastic and he pulled off the lead landscape with ease and precision. Kenny adds a real dimension to the bands sound, and feel, very impressive.
The band navigated their way through Cause of Death, from start to finish, as mentioned above and then backed up their set, after a short break, I am not calling it an encore, as there were no clichés tonight! They played their latest track as part of the “end of the show”, hopefully a taste of the new album, ‘A Dying World’, a monster of a song. The final song, and quite fitting was the band’s debut album titled track, ‘Slowly We Rot’, and what a great way to end the evening. No song was out of place tonight, and no performance was disappointing!!!
The band ending the show with this song got me wondering, thinking back to when they started. If you told me back then that this band would be in Australia playing these tracks some thirty years later, I don’t think that I would have believed you. I first heard Obituary in a small heavy metal record store in Newcastle, called Head First Imports in 1989, and they blew me away, as well as scare the crap out of me!! But here we are, and the songs have stood up so well, they still sound fresh and relevant within the genre as I explained above. The band interacted quite sincerely with the room, and despite the intensity of the music, it could just as well have been a backyard party and Obituary turned up!
Tonight Obituary did not disappoint, and I think more importantly, they played a respectful and fitting tribute to quite honestly their most brilliant offspring in Cause of Death. I really can’t see these guys stopping any time soon, they are playing so well, they have a stable line-up, and by the reaction of the crowd, they are still so needed. Bring on the next thirty years and the 60 Years of Cause of Death tour; I’ll only be seventy six so count me in.
Gig Review by Mark Snedden
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