Ripped To Shreds - News
Live Review - Ripped To Shreds, Live Burial, Lobotomica - The Black Heart, London - 4/23/23
Sunday night probably wouldn't be anyone's first choice for a night of underground death metal mayhem, but the die-hards crammed into London's excellent Black Heart venue were determined to do their best to make a Sunday feel like a Friday, in honour of a rare visit from Californian masters RIPPED TO SHREDS. Before Andrew Lee's berserker crew stomped their HM-2 pedals into dust though, the crowd were treated to a brace of support sets from local boys LOBOTOMICA, and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne's LIVE BURIAL, the latter the bearers of a reputation to rival that of their US touring buddies, on the back of their superb 2022 album Curse Of The Forlorn, released on Transcending Obscurity, a label that know a thing or too about the darker arts.
LOBOTOMICA are clearly a band in the early stages of development, added to the bill on the strength of a single demo, but what they lacked in memorable tracks, they more than compensated for with a fevered performance, not least from their whirling dervish of a frontman, Juda Gentelini, who did a fine job of whipping the front rows into a frenzy of headbanging, and minor moshpit action. Benefiting from the ever-evolving grooves emanating from their sublime bass player, the band play a raw, but technical version of the kind of thrash that seems to dominate the South American scene currently, with some progressive flourishes in the vain of Atheist, and some chunky mosh parts which provide some breathing room from their otherwise dense mix. They're not quite the finished article (or possibly even the first draft of an article), but they had no difficulty in translating the obvious fun that they were having to a well-oiled crowd, and may just be a band to keep at least one eye on.
LIVE BURIAL were an altogether different proposition. In fact, they were a different proposition from even their usual show, vocalist Jamie Brown having discovered that his voice had become an unfortunate casualty of an ongoing tour. Brown apologised profusely for the fact that his band would be playing an instrumental set, but must have taken some satisfaction from the fact that the rest of LIVE BURIAL ensured that his presence was forgotten almost too quickly! Demonstrating the primacy of the guitars in the kind of intense death metal that LIVE BURIAL specialise in, the remaining four members were locked together from first note to last, in a whirlwind of thrashing death that can only have served to persuade the majority of the crowd to return when the band re-introduce the vocals on their next visit to the capital.
In the best possible way though, as RIPPED TO SHREDS ambled inconspicuously onto the stage, all memories of the rest of the bill were utterly obliterated, as the band tore into a savagely enjoyable set, which focussed primarily on their latest Relapse release Jubian, while spanning the entirety of their career to date. Andrew Lee perhaps doesn't look like an obvious death metal frontman (although this says more about the scene's in-built prejudices and preconceptions that it does about him), but his gonzo stage presence means that he is compulsively watchable, whether he's wrestling yet another Stockholm-via-Schuldiner riff from his guitar, or bellowing his way through a set of lyrically sophisticated, but sonically unintelligible vocals. The rest of the band exude a similar level of zealous intensity, and as they tear through much of Jubian, together with some earlier tracks, the highlight being a particularly brutal offering from their Demon Scriptures EP, the front rows are reduced to carnage, amusingly led by LOBOTOMICA's Juda, who seems to be enjoying the headliner's performance as much as he did his own. As the band demonstrate why they are such hot property, combining fierce musicianship and precise songcraft, it is impossible not to get swept up in the mayhem, and an unbreakable connection is made between RIPPED TO SHREDS and the enraptured London audience. Following a brief one-song encore, the seemingly exhausted band make their exit, and we stumble back out into the chilly night, sure in the collective knowledge that we've seen something very special tonight.