(By David ‘Sunshine’ LaMay, Staff Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
Some things inexplicably stick in the mind. I don’t remotely know why, but I still remember my first time hearing OBITUARY, 28 damned years ago.
While waiting for somebody to pick up food, I sat in my truck, tuned in to the local (Utica, NY) college radio station, and there was “Find The Arise‘”. I was blown away, and once the track concluded, and the DJ dished the details on the then-new release, ‘Cause Of Death‘, the rest was, as is always said, history.
It only managed to take nearly three decades, but finally, my time to see them live fell into place. September 8th, in Clifton Park, NY, at one of our areas only mid-range capacity venues that still books metal (Upstate Concert Hall), OBITUARY and Exmortus were present with three area bands preceding these two big guns, it was a full evening, for certain.
Starting up the evening was the Massachusetts outfit Hate The Adversary. It’s hard for me to judge their style of deathcore because I’m simply not a fan of the genre. Plus, it was just their second actual club gig, and all things considered, they were a decent beginning for the night.
Next up was Saratoga’s Balor. Despite being from a town just 15 minutes from me, I knew nothing of them. A little research shows the band having longtime affiliations/tenures within the Capital District (Albany/Troy) hardcore scene, which explained some elements of their sound. They did a respectable, if slightly generic style of chunky death metal with small slices of ‘core stomp ‘n’ grind sandwiched here and there. Nothing jumped out at me, but I’ve seen and heard worse. Much.
It is with Waterford, NY’s Dirt Church that the night began to get interesting. I’d already heard their sludgecore-ish demo, and was prepared for another passive reaction of my part. Nope. Instead, these sneaky devils worked the stage with confidence, all while delivering a cutting, Northeastern spin on Buzzov*en and EHG territory. A potent set, and hopefully indicative of where they will head in the studio from here on, as well.
All-in-all, the locals did their jobs building the night; it’s time for the nationals, beginning with Exmortus.
Now, California’s Exmortus was something of an anticipated wild-card for me. I have most of their releases, but, as many of my fellow music fiends can attest to, some bands just get lost in the shuffle of everyday whatnot. What I did know of them was they were a thrash-centered, battlefield-obsessed group, with plenty of nods to death, and a few winks to black. Just what was I going to come away with from seeing them onstage?
The answer is… mighty good things. The lack of familiarity ended up working in my favor, as I was actually able to still discern each track without it. Lots of tempo, structure, and melody variations kept them far away from the tar pits that practitioners of a similar nature often aimlessly wander into. A tight, energetic, and impressive showing that now has me wanting to get to know Exmortus tunes quite a bit more.
With anticipation at a fever pitch, it was at last time for death metal legends OBITUARY. On this night (and surely many others), they earned their status – and then some.
Their almost patent-worthy brew of traditional death with doom and thrash seasonings was in full effect. Opener “Threatening Skies” literally sent the place into ballistic mode, with the pit opening to cover almost half the floor, and only letting up for a quick breath or two. The bodies flew everywhere… all night. Being an old fart now, I just gleefully watched both happenings, as the band easily kept pace with the crowd intensity. The overall set list was also pretty fiery, including “Don’t Care“, “Find The Arise“, “Chopped In Half“, and of course, encore closer “Slowly We Rot“.
It also bears mentioning that as (Redneck) stompin’ as the music is after decades, OBITUARY‘s ultimate weapon remains front man John Tardy. While not quite as gut-crushingly agonized in delivery these days, he is STILL the most unique, commanding voice in death metal history.
In closing, it was most definitely a worthwhile night. The main reason for my going absolutely lived up to my expectations, and I got some nice surprises along the way, as well.
If you haven’t had enough Obituary for the day, you can check out the Riff Relevant Interview with Obituary‘s Trevor Peres [HERE].