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Obliteration at the Union, Los Angeles - live review

Nordic marauders hit Vinland's west coast

Obliteration live on stage
(Image: © Carsten Steinhausen)

It’s never easy for international acts to receive the necessary visas to tour the US, but considering that the former Norwegian PM was recently detained, it feels like a minor miracle that tonight’s Nordic triple-header takes place. REPTILIAN [7] administer the opening rites, injecting some unexpected colour into their doomy death. Their Autopsy worship has always been blatant, but live, the group’s material takes on a swampier, even stoner feel.

It’s unfair to label music this primitive as progressive, but the quartet prove adept at shape-shifting nonetheless, although the moshpit-inspired by Possessed By The Eyes Of A Living God shows that sometimes, the direct approach is best. It’s hard to get more direct than the sonic avalanche delivered by INCULTER [8], whose taut black-thrash war cries are performed with militaristic precision. They share two members with Reptilian, and their stamina never ebbs. The star of the set, however, is guitarist/vocalist Remi Andrè Nygård, whose icy riffing and blazing solos provide potent firepower throughout, and the frenetic Diabolic Forest does Nygård’s Kreator t-shirt proud.

Obilteration: Sindre Solem dishes out the dirt

Obilteration: Sindre Solem dishes out the dirt

Although they only played two concerts throughout 2016, OBLITERATION [9] show no signs of rust during their fierce hour-long show. Vocalist/guitarist Sindre Solem casts a towering presence; considering how he utilises his entire torso, it’s not fair to describe his movements as mere head-banging, but it’s forceful and imposing just the same. While it’s hard to resist ferocious thunderclouds like Transient Passage, the group leave a more lasting impression with the comparatively dirge-like The Spawn Of A Dying Kind. Its sneering, lumbering groove and thick wall of sound proves that all metal does indeed derive from Black Sabbath, a point that’s further emphasised during the set-closing The Worm That Gnaws In The Night. Encouragingly, the band debut a surprisingly concise new song, noted on the setlist as Egypt. It unfolds ominously, with tribal drums and an atmospheric riff hinting at the fury that awaits. It’s a tantalising appetiser that further pleads their case as worthy heirs to the (dark)throne.

Obliteration: Black Death Horizon