I will personally fight anyone in the face that says today’s death metal bands have gone stale and predictable. Tonight showed the very best that this world has to offer and how the most extreme music known to mankind can still terrify in the most beautiful way. But somehow it all falls on relatively deaf ears. For reasons unknown, this reviewer is finding it harder and harder to think up excuses as to why this show wasn’t rammed. Given the current situation Womanby Street is in and the impeccable talent on display, a lot of voices are shouting but not where their screams mean the most – at a show.
Dead Sea [6.5] took the brunt of this cold shoulder as this South Wales deathcore quintet had the tunes to fill the space, but lacked the body and substance to materialise the megaton sound they have at their disposal. Granted, bartering with half a dozen people to come forward in a space where you could easily fit a round of The Weakest Link is never the easiest. Sonically, Dead Sea are solid and tick all the boxes as far as beefed-up tech riffs are concerned; it’s the conviction that needs work. Time and experience as a live unit is all this young band needs, as I’m confident they will soon find themselves in a commanding position in the near future.
As with any sphincter when it gets nervous, the gap in the crowd begins to shrink – clench, if you will – to the very sight of Venom Prison . They are the death metal band to watch out for on the extreme circuit. Not a word of acknowledgment; not a sliver of empathy for the crowd as frontwoman Larissa Stupar is violently hypnotizing. Pounding through their set without even pausing for breath, it is sheer sonic brutalisation of the highest order. Abysmal Agony, Desecration Of Human Privilege, Devoid, Womb Forced Animus… not since the days of Cannibal Corpse or Deicide has this reviewer genuinely feared for his soul, and enjoyed it so goddamned much!
As every limit is torn asunder, it’s evident that this Welsh five-piece are shaping the genre to their own twisted, original design. If there is a heaven, every single angel watching will be soiling their robes as Venom Prison are surly the ones to usher in the end times. For all those brave enough to explore this band further, their 2016 debut album Animus will serve as a gentle reminder to say your prayers before bed if you wish to redeem your eternal soul.
With that in mind, it was time for Darkest Hour  to bring home some in-your-face metalcore in spades. Sure enough, as the Washington D.C. outfit came stampeding onto the stage, much to the excitement of everyone present. After the sonic desecration of the latter, Darkest Hour are a light-hearted romp by comparison. Not by any stretch of the imagination does that mean they were soft on the old cranial-stomping. Brutal, fast and intense, the twenty-plus years Darkest Hour have been supplying the world with face-melting metalcore certainly shows. As veterans of the post-nu-metal movement of the mid-2000s, they show us exactly how it’s done.
Having lost none of their tenacity or their hunger for a bowel-shifting riff, their latest album Godless Prophets And The Migrant Flora equivalents to standing in the path of a jet engine that’s on fire. Delving out these latest tunes in force, vocalist John Henry pleads for at least one mosh pit, the idea of which is flirted with for the past twenty minutes as certain individuals start to get restless. Sure enough, limbs begin to flail and bodies begin to slam, in flurries of kinetic physicality and all is right with the world. Darkest Hour prevail with ease as the night comes to its inevitable conclusion. Though the turnout wasn’t up to par, it’s not the number in the crowd that makes the show, it’s the music that fills the gaps that truly cements a band’s worth.