Magazine: Thrash 'n Burn / UK
Report: Death / Napalm Death / Pestilence / Cannibal Corpse / Dismember
Venue: Neue Welt-Berlin / Germany

Written by: Rob Clymo
Published: February 1992



Judging by the very healthy turnout at this Rock Hard Christmas Festival, death metal is big business in Germany right now. Openeners DISMEMBER looked somewhat surprised by all the attention too, although as death metal outfits go, this youthful bunch have to be the cheerfullest around. The quintet's boundless enthusiasm was one of their greatest strengths during this all to brief set. At present the Swedes are forced to draw material from their one and only studio outing to date, the impressive "Like An Ever Flowing Stream" platter, but that sheer latent aggresssion they put into the material's delivery was often exceptional. However, it's clear that both on album and in the live environment, DISMEMBER are still finding their feet, and I don't think I was alone in detecting rather a lot of similarities to fellow Swedish five-piece ENTOMBED.


Not that this bunch are ripping their native countrymen off blatently or anything, I think it's more a case of DISMEMBER still being in their formative stages. Given time I'm sure they can develop a style of their very own, but for now, their music is a very satisfying exercise in grungy, highly aggressive death metal. Naturally, for a band so young, DISMEMBER need to improve the quality of their live show, and often looked a little ropey around the edges, but I've a feeling that with time, another album and plenty of consistent touring, these guys could mature into a band with frightening potential.


Cannibal Corpse

As for CANNIBAL CORPSE, then I'm afraid there's not quite so much exciting news to report, because after witnessing this show I still can't really see too much appeal in this band. Okay, so CANNIBAL CORPSE may well have sold a good few copies of both their albums, but there's such a lowdown cheesy element to this band that it often detracts from any real musical ability they may have. Certainly the band have plenty to offer visually, with all five members, and singer Chris Barnes in particular, giving it all they've got. Musically though it's a little bland. In fact, I found it all a bit comical really, as the totally unintelligable Barnes attempts some onstage banter with the crowd only to be met with an awful lot of blank looks. More notable moments included "Covered in Sores" and hilarious set closer "Skullfull of Maggots", but ultimately CANNIBAL CORPSE are a tad too cheesy for their own good, and far too much of their material thunders past in an instantly forgettable wall of noise. I dunno, I just can't quite figure out why everybody seems to like these guys so much. They're a great bunch of people without doubt, but I've a feeling that more than anything CANNIBAL CORPSE are milking their so called controversial image as much as they can. It's just a pity they can't seem to match it with some genuinely memorable tunes. Still, as the old SPINAL TAP saying goes; "Death Sells!" and CANNIBAL CORPSE are flogging it for all they're worth!


Rather better were Holland's PESTILENCE a band who've matured so much over the last couple of years. And so far their change in direction seems to have been greeted with a positive response, although this crowd looked happiest when frontman Patrick Mameli and co were running through older, more straightforward stuff, pre-latest "Testimony Of The Ancients" album. Indeed, the four piece opened up with "Dehydrated", a tune from their previous second album "Consuming Impulse". That said, the band seem to ignore their "Malleus Maleficarum" debut these days, preferring to stick to latter day material for the most part. And obviously it's "Testimony..." tunes that made up the bulk of this set, with the title track, "Twisted Truth" and "Stigmatized" standing out particularly well. However, there are occasional moments which lack the sort of sonic intensity we've come to expect from the majority of death metal bands, although calling PESTILENCE a death metal band looks like it's becoming an increasingly redundant phrase these days. Indeed, Mameli was to later inform me that the band plans to go in an even more progressive vein from now on, so if you yearn for their more back earlier days it looks like you'll be pretty much out of luck. As for the band themselves then they're not the most charsimatic performers. Guitarist/vocalist Patrick Mameli doesn't seem to be bothered with attempting too much rapport with the crowd (probably having been put off by his failed attempts at cajoling the 'chicks' during the bands last U.K. stint!), but musically he and the others reproduce the more technical "Testimony..." stuff with sufficient verve to keep it all reasonably interesting. Again, it's older material like set closer "Out Of The Body" which still inspires the biggest cheers from the crowd, but you have to give PESTILENCE credit for attempting to expand and develop on their initial thrashy sound.

Patrick Mameli

Now much as I had been anticipating headliners DEATH, I'm gonna come right out and say it here and now that NAPALM DEATH were undoubtedly the band of the evening. Even photographer Nick Matthews was completely blown away by the total face removal created by Barney Greenway and company. I mean I've never looked upon myself as the world's biggest NAPALM DEATH fan before now, but tonight they were incredible, and that's no bullshit! To put it bluntly there just seemed to be an amazing chemistry between the band members here tonight, which is probably due to the fact that the newer members, like American guitarists Jesse Pintado/Mitch Harris and drummer Danny Herrera have had a chance to settle in and contribute their own identity to the ever fast and furious NAPALM material. Additionally, the sound was being handled by that man Mitch Dickinson, a guy who seems to get superb results every time, even when the band are playing at warp factor ten. Kicking off with "Mass Appeal Madness", NAPALM DEATH were awesome, raging onward through a pile of their best tunes. "Life", "Scum", "Control", "Pride Assassin" and "Mentally Murdered" to name but a few, all were done, along with two brand new songs set to feature on the bands next album due sometime this year. The first one, "Upward And Uninterested" was a corker, although unbelievably, the other, "I Abstain", proved to be even better, if this is the sort of stuff we can expect come the release of that new album than it's gonna be a definite case of buy, buy, buy! Of course the band themselves go totally nuts throughout the set, and in fact Greenway got so fired up by the whole thing that when he left the stage at the end he nearly walked straight off the edge! Bassist Shane Emburry was as entertaining as ever too, whilst those guitarist peel of riffs of almost seismic proportions. Drummer Danny Herrera, meanwhile, is amazing to watch, and boy, is this guy fast or what? Rounding it out with the likes of "Vision", "Deceiver" and an almighty "Seige Of Power" NAPALM DEATH showed once again that they're an awful lot better than people may have given them credit for in the past. Their future certainly looks very bright indeed!

Barney Greenway

To be honest, after the cacophony of NAPALM DEATH, Chuck Schuldiner's much anticipated DEATH were a little bit of a damp squib. I enjoyed them immensely, but some of the crowd were already starting to leave by the time the four piece opened up with "Suicide Machine". Still, those that did bother to stay on were treated to DEATH at their best ever, and Schuldiner is to be commended for assembling the strongest line-up this band has ever had. What I especially liked about Chuck, and fellow members guitarist Paul Masvidal, bassist Skott Carino and drummer Sean Reinert was their ability to take the music in a very technical direction without ever going over the edge and making it sound selfindulgent.


Helping matters was the fact that Masvidal and Carino put plenty into the visual aspect by flailing their heads round and round as much as possible. Chuck Schuldiner, meanwhile, cuts an imposing figure, and his between song lines are dedicated for the most part to putting the record straight about what's been said about him and his band over the years. The guitarist/vocalist certainly seems very aggrieved by all the controversy which surrounds him, but to anyone who came here expecting DEATH to fall short of the mark musically must have gone away very disappointed because the frontman and his band were highly capable. Newer songs like "Flattening Of Emotions" and "Lack Of Comprehension" sidle alongside older nuggets like "Zombie Ritual" really well too, and the new recruits have really helped to add new zest to something like encore "Pull The Plug". Drummer Sean Reinert in particular, is a sticksman of incredible talent, and adds both a high technical element and also the human touch too; a balance which is pretty difficult to get at the best of times.
Indeed, the whole band are fine musicians without doubt, remaining largely hard to fault on most counts. My only doubt about DEATH now though is what happens after this tour? After all, if Masvidal and Reinert hot tail it back to their own band CYNIC, then just where does that leave Schuldiner? Once again it appears to put the DEATH man in something of a nowin situation, but as Chuck told me himself earlier that evening, they're taking each and every day as it comes, and for now that set up seems to be working perfectly. Make sure you catch 'em in the UK, okay!


to gigs

EmptyWords-Published on September 22 2001