Who’s the most br00tal? Definitively not openers Miasmal (5) who brings a bit of good old school Swedish death metal to an otherwise quite manic bill. Still, with mostly guys coming from the hardcore scene, one could have expected them to have a more in-your-face attitude. But no, proud of their beer belly and vintage thrasher look, those Swedes have a surprising laid-back attitude. Shame that like their debut album released earlier this year, despite a very good EP prior to it, live they to make any lasting impression.
They may have been trying too hard to reek of putrefaction or fine-tuning their symphonies of sickness but the truth is that as far stage antics go, Exhumed (8) simply rule. Just like you’re still going to a Kiss show to see Gene Simmons spit out blood and spread his (bat) wings while he’s playing the intro of God Of Thunder, whenever Matt Harvey and his sick buddies are around, you just can’t wait for that moment when their lead guitarist will puke his guts out while shredding or when their roadie, dressed as a mad professor, will join them with a chainsaw for Limb From Limb. If Beavis and Butthead liked gore metal, they would truly love Exhumed.
If on record Origin (7) are a finely tuned machine whose finesse easily shines through despite its relentless barrage of blasts, live the band always tend to come across as one big noisy vacuum cleaner. You almost feel sorry for their bass player and former Gorgasm member Mike Flores who spends the whole gig going up and down the fretboard like a maniac while his performance is completely obliterated by the unbalanced mix and John Longstreth’s constant drum assault. The level of energy at work here is impressive but even their most diehard fans sometimes have a problem recognising which song they’re actually playing! But something good can come out of something bad: although accustomed to constant line-up changes, the band’s latest recruit is a gem, the one frontman they needed. As a vocalist, Jason Keyser may not be the most original guy on the planet but performance-wise, the former Skinless brings on the table the kind of enthusiasm and energy that makes all the difference here. When he’s not cracking jokes, he’s encouraging stagedivers to jump on stage and sometimes even joins in with some good old crowdsurfing when he’s not giving everybody a lesson in headbanging, especially when the band stops blasting everything away and gets in thrash mode. He’s the reason why what should have been a sterile display of power ends up being a party anyway.
Despite their numerous line-up changes over the last two decades, live Aborted (7) have always been a party too, but a different kind of party where everything is more focused and under control. It’s easy to tell who is the boss here as vocalist and only steady member Sven de Caluwé remains the focal point. And thanks to their long and still ongoing love affair with the French audience – Caluwé comes from the French speaking part of Belgium, they got their big break back in 2001 thanks to Listenable Records and recorded their only DVD five years later only few blocks away at the now defunct Locomotive venue – it only take few minutes before the public eats out of the palm of their collective hand, with the intensity gaining an extra point when Exhumed singer is invited to join on vocals for Coffin Upon Coffin. Nevertheless, you can easily spot two specific groups in the crowd: on one side, the young ‘uns who are basically here to keep the pit going no matter what the song is and on the other, the old farts standing in the back, enjoying themselves quietly while waiting for the Goremageddon songs to pop up in the setlist. Both surely agreed on one thing though: live, Aborted are still death-metal personified.