Why, Mr Sound Engineer, Why?
Hate Eternal, Dying Fetus, Deeds of Flesh and Prejudice
@ The Camden Underworld, London, 7 January 2004

by: Jackie Smit
The first in what turns out to be a catalogue of disappointments comes early in this evening's proceedings, when an unannounced bill change sees Belgian death metal newcomers Prejudice standing in for Severe Torture (who incidentally turned in a very favorable set when they hit the London Mean Fiddler with Cannibal Corpse last year). From the off, it is painfully clear that Prejudice wouldn't know an original idea if it dressed up as a hyena and bit them in the face, and despite some of their chugging grooves hitting the mark occasionally, their time on stage ultimately ends up being just another 25 minutes of my life I won't get back.

Deeds of Flesh are a band who, in the recent resurgence of death metal, have been left criminally by the wayside, in my opinion. Having plyed their ultra-brutal trade since 1993, they have quietly and consistently turned in some underground classics, in particular with their _Trading Pieces_ and _Mark of the Legion_ albums. With the sound as atrociously poor as it is tonight however, I'm almost expecting them to fall on their faces, but such is not the case, as they turn in a short blistering set that includes "Reduced to Ashes" and the eponymous "Deeds of Flesh".

Dying Fetus take to the stage shortly after Deeds of Flesh wish the crowd a good night, and the response is almost overwhelmingly rapturous, with many punters seemingly here purely to support the New York bruisers. Instantly noticeable in their sojourn this time round is the increased confidence possessed by new vocalist Vince Matthews. Where the last time I saw these guys he was slightly demure and at times almost unsure of himself, tonight he is the picture of showmanship and supreme confidence. And with good reason too, for tonight is truly Dying Fetus' night. With an energetic and aggressive performance they overcome the increasingly bad sound, and songs like "Skullfucked" and "Killing on Adrenaline" have never sounded better or more convincing.

Hate Eternal are a different keg of beer, however. As death metal continues to evolve and mine even greater depths of technicality and intricate song structures, so too does the danger increase that unless a venue provides crystalline sound, the music ends up coming off as nothing more than a garbled mess. By the time Eric Rutan and his cohorts take to the stage, the sound has inexplicably deteriorated to such an extent that if you had to imagine listening to Hate Eternal on cheap earphones, whilst sitting beside the track at a drag race, you might have a slight idea of what the band are up against from the get-go. And no matter how diligent their efforts, their music is sadly of such a fast and complex nature that songs like "By His Own Decree", "Servants of the Gods" and "Chants in Declaration" are almost entirely unrecognizable -- and this is coming from a man who can rattle off the vast majority of Hate Eternal's lyrics at a moment's notice. In their favor, Hate Eternal do command an amazing stage presence, and drummer Derrick Roddy is particularly impressive as he pulls off some of the most dizzying and precise beats imaginable. But for the most part, their set is nothing more than evidence to support the issuing of the death penalty for the person(s) responsible for tonight's audio atrocity.

(article submitted 25/1/2004)


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