Thy Art Is Murder/ After The Burial/ Oceano at Y Stiwdio, Cardiff - live review

Australia’s reunited ruffians overcome their confines

Art for Thy Art Is Murder/ After The Burial/ Oceano live at Y Stiwdio, Cardiff

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

There are two sides to Illinois’ OCEANO [6]. The first is an ugly, guttural slab of deathcore that grimly flattens all before it, but sadly the subtle synths that add an eerie dimension on this year’s punishing Revelation sound a bit artificial and irritating behind Adam Warren’s crew in the live environment. AFTER THE BURIAL [7] are a more complex proposition, but through the convulsing rhythms and elasticated riffs comes the irresistible crunch of Anti-Pattern, during which band and crowd prove the low stage and obstacle-ridden ceiling of the refurbished venue are still totally unsuitable for such a raucous meeting. A stirring A Wolf Amongst Ravens brings an end to a triumphant return for a band who are clearly determined to overcome the tragic loss of guitarist Richard Lowe.

The chants of “CJ! CJ! CJ!” that erupt both before and during THY ART IS MURDER’s [8] incendiary set are testament to the inescapable appeal of returning frontman CJ McMahon, who’s greeted by a deafening hero’s welcome as he emerges to new number Dear Desolation. Though not radically better than any other metal vocalists in a similar mould – including Nick Arthur who ably deputised in his absence – there’s just something about his presence and magnetism that the headliners lacked during his hiatus. Despite a tendency to gurgle his way through lyrics, diatribes such as Slaves Beyond Death are delivered with remorseless intent, and he feeds off the feverish scenes in the pit below, inciting bedlam by ominously stalking the stage and launching himself into the mass of bodies that threatens to envelop security at any moment. The frontman’s ire reaches new levels of intensity when he talks about a disagreement with a Christian group in the building, pouring fuel onto the already raging Absolute Genocide.

Clearly re-energised, the band sound nothing short of colossal through new numbers Death Dealer and Puppet Master, whose unstoppable charge is down to the basics being executed to perfection, while the crowd respond in kind to established chorus of Purest Strain Of Hate. But it’s finally getting to hear CJ add his scorn to the closing one-two of Light Bearer and the title track from Holy War – an album that he only briefly toured and that set Thy Art Is Murder apart from the throng – that rekindles the excitement for the Sydney quintet as they vehemently shrug off genre limits and the hideously inappropriate venue. Leaving only briefly before being summoned back for a triumphant Reign Of Darkness, you get the sense that the next time they roll through it will be in much more esteemed surroundings.

Adam Brennan

Rugby, Sean Bean and power ballad superfan Adam has been writing for Hammer since 2007, and has a bad habit of constructing sentences longer than most Dream Theater songs. Can usually be found cowering at the back of gigs in Bristol and Cardiff. Bruce Dickinson once called him a 'sad bastard'.