Bent Backwards and Broken
Despised Icon, Misery Index, Beneath the Massacre and Annotations of an Autopsy @ Camden Underworld, 5 February 2008
by: Jackie Smit
It's been a while since London has played host to a bill so singularly focused on bludgeoning, brutal death metal, and evidently this fact hasn't been lost on the gathering throng outside the Camden Underworld. With a queue growing well beyond the norm, you wonder whether the dingy confines of the venue is even capable of playing host to a spectacle of such savagery. The make-up of the crowd appears curious too; pockets of grizzled death metallers, decked in black leather and sporting flowing, unwashed coifs being flanked by hordes of skinheads-cum-pseudo hard nuts. In my experience this has generally always proven a sure-fire recipe for at least one ass-whuppin' to be handed down, but such is not the case tonight.

The beatdowns are left to the bands, and Annotations of an Autopsy certainly aren't slouches in this regard. Despite being the local boys, their brand of pummelling groove-death is slightly lost on the crowd, which is thanks at least in part to the fact that their forthcoming full-length will only see the light of day in April. Still, these lads don't let the initial indifference deter them, and by the time they head for the exit, more than a few punters have been convincingly won over.

Creators of one of 2007's truly unsung masterpieces, Beneath the Massacre play select cuts off their _Mechanics of Dysfunction_ platter with nigh on inhuman precision. Their Achilles heel was always going to be the fact that the frankly ludicrous level of technicality present in songs like "Modern Age Slavery" and "The Invisible Hand" was going to render many in the band immobile come gig-time. But for what they lack in on-stage antics, they more than compensate for in razor-sharp precision.

Misery Index are significantly less salubrious by comparison. Being a devout fan of both their previous offerings myself, it's a shame to see such killer material being squandered on a set that's devoid of enthusiasm of any kind. You could argue that the band are less than impressed with the half-assed job that the monkey behind the sound desk is doing, but still -- it comes with the territory, lads.

In stark contrast, Montreal's Despised Icon go on a rampage of near criminal proportions from the get-go. They know that they're tonight's main event, yet still seem genuinely humbled by both the turnout and the ecstatic response afforded them by their London audience. Responding in kind with bowel-churning renditions of "Furtive Monologue" and "The Sunset Will Never Charm Us", as well as a take on crowd-favourite "Retina" that's delivered with such pugnacity that it even gets your writer actively involved in the ensuing mosh pit, is certainly a good way to reciprocate. When they finally bring the evening to a close with the ferocious "In the Arms of Perdition", it's not hard to see why this increasingly popular troupe made every other act on their last tour of the United Kingdom look like absolute lightweights.

(article submitted 25/2/2008)


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