Exodus, Obituary, Heathen, Morgoth
Fuzz Club, Athens, Greece

One of the greatest live packages of all times visited Greece for two shows, the only difference was the presence of the German death metallers Morgoth in Athens compared to Thessaloniki’s show who opened the show and in the end, gained all the positive impressions. Again the presence of the crowd was not satisfactory, another gig of this month with a poor attendance compared to the promoter’s expectations. Also, we have a very intriguing phenomenon which causes a lot of negative reactions. While the two thrash bands were playing, many death metallers were out and vice versa, when the death metal bands were playing, some thrashers were out drinking beers. If you don’t know what you want people, then don’t attend the gigs at all. You consider granted the fact that some bands may eventually come to Greece and you simply don’t give a shit about the ones accompanying them. Shame on all of you, regardless your taste. Speaking about the gig now, all the bands gave their best possible performance and the gig lasted more than seven hours, starting a little after 18:30 p.m. and finishing at 1:50 a.m.

Morgoth came out furiously like it was still 1992 and basing their set on the ‘’Cursed’’ album, they are already left in our minds as one of the best bands that has played in our country. If it comes to old school death metal, I can only compare their performance to Bolt Thrower and as far as their adaptability of material is concerned, we have a band on the same level as Entombed the least. They started with three tracks from ‘’Cursed’’ and many necks were on fire, ‘’Body Count’’, ‘’Exit To Temptation’’ and ‘’Unreal Imagination’’. Lacking Sebastian Swart on guitars, as he img_0990-copywas left home ill, they still sounded tied and with a great sound for the likes of Fuzz Club, they tortured our ears for about 70 minutes. Continuing with ‘’Travel’’, it becomes so clear that this reunion was made for delivering only ferocious performances and honouring the fans waiting to see them more than fifteen years. ‘’Resistance’’ shows that ‘’Odium’’ is an album that was made to sound fresh even in 2012, even two decades after its release and ‘’Suffer Life’’ which is my favourite song off ‘’Cursed’’ closes the first half of the set.

Marc Grewe is in unbelievable shape, reproducing his brutal vocals with tremendous ease and the addition of Marc Reign on the drums, makes them totally invincible. ‘’Lies Of Distrust’’ is another track from the glorious old EP’s and ‘’Under The Surface’’ is the second and last track played from ‘’Odium’’ that night. ‘’Sold Baptism’’ shows some Autopsy influences of the band’s past and few could believe they would listen to ‘’White Gallery’’, ‘’Burnt Identity’’ and ‘’Pits Of Utumno’’ (the omnipotent Morgoth song) in the row. ‘’Isolated’’ came only to finish us off and mark the proof of a F-L-A-W-L-E-S-S performance done by the German quartet. Even fans not knowing them, were left astonished and gave them an honest applause. The band left smiling of the fans’ response and what I didn’t want to think for the next bands, was already true, Morgoth were simply and easily the best. When the new album is going to be out in 2013, they will take back what they were deprived of all these years.

Heathen is a similar case with Morgoth, a band that released an album eighteen years after its split-up, three years later ‘’The Evolution Of Chaos’’ is still one of the best thrash metal albums of the last decade and the fact that the American thrashers were shooting this gig for an upcoming DVD, made the fans rather energetic. ‘’Dying Season’’ starts the holocaust and David White starts delivering high pitched vocals stepping on the relentless riffs and solos. Lee Altus is a guitar monstrosity and it’s no secret that his presence has somehow resurrected Exodus from an uncertain basis some years ago. ‘’Control By Chaos’’ sets more fire and ‘’Open The Grave’’ from the debut img_1074-copy‘’Breaking The Silence’’ creates a large moshpit inside the club. Another newest one is ‘’Fade Away’’ and ‘’Heathen’s Song’’ from the monumental ‘’Victims Of Deception’’ is another great surprise for the fans, who continue running on tracks like ‘’Arrows Of Agony’’, before we witness the best part of the gig which is the duo of ‘’Hypnotized’’ and ‘’Opiate Of The Masses’’ are played non stop, just like on the album. Seminar of rhythm and lead guitar for untrained ears and narrow-minded thrashers is what Heathen offer, even some death metallers can’t help but admitting their masterful technique and the quality of the singer, though most of them don’t know the band’s material.

‘’No Stone Unturned’’ is the longest track the band has composed and everyone looks with open mouth its development through the eleven minutes it lasts. ‘’Silent Nothingness’’ is the last track they play from ‘’The Evolution Of Chaos’’ which has rightfully conquered half the set of the band. They leave some of the best for the end, with ‘’Mercy Is No Virtue’’ at first and closing the set with ‘’Death By Hanging’’ from ‘’Breaking The Silence’’, they made all the crowd sing the chorus and left fully applaused and hopefully satisfied from the response. Not only they gave an amazing performance for 90 minutes, but they proved that this demanding material can be reproduced live from a very tied and steady band. Altus’ comfortable James Hetfield-ish style of playing didn’t pass unnoticed and though even some thrashers got tired after the middle of the show, Heathen can claim that their first (and maybe last?) time in Greece was a success. When the DVD is out, all will witness what we’re talking here about. One more time, the Greeks prove that when it’s about publicity for them, they can be the first in everything. Unfortunately they don’t remember this often in other cases.

Obituary were so great that I didn’t expect such a performance. The previous three times I saw them, the songs were reproduced great but at the middle of the set, they always seemed to lose energy and filled the blank parts with needless drum solos. This time, with one guitar only, as Ralph Santolla was not with them, they make me state that they no longer need a second guitarist and solos don’t miss anybody. Trevor Peres has a great crunchy/groovy sound in his guitar and ‘’Redneck Stomp’’ startsimg_1149-copy the show, before ‘’On The Floor’’ shows why John Tardy is still the trademark voice on the death metal sound. Totally refreshed and with an unbelievably fast and pounding Donald Tardy on drums, they go on with ‘’Internal Bleeding’’, to make all the old school diehards scream with them, while they don’t forget their most recent tracks like ‘’List Of Dead’’ and ‘’Blood To Give’’. When ‘’Chopped In Half’’ starts, everyone knows they’re going to cut it and go on with ‘’Turned Inside Out’’ but noone gives a fuck and a large pit fills the middle part of the club. ‘’Dying’’ is the beloved instrumental track they always play and when John Tardy returns, ‘’Threatening Skies’’ and ‘’By The Light’’ set the place afire.

It’s like seeing the Floridian rednecks for the first time, even those who have seen them before hardly believe how great and loud they are and with ‘’Find The Arise’’ it’s time to stop believing in coincidences and just enjoy the rest of the show. ‘’Dethroned Emperor’’ is the Celtic Frost cover they play the last years and really suits them better for the gigs compared to ‘’Circle Of The Tyrants’’. After many years, I see them playing the title track from ‘’The End Complete’’ album and sounding much heavier, it makes us all give some more headbanging, though tireness starts showing its signs on most of the people. ‘’Slow Death’’ is the last track they play before the encore, for which they leave the first track they ever wrote, (‘’Til Death’’), the biggest hit of their latest albums (‘’Evil Ways’’) and the usual ending of each Obituary show (‘’Slowly We Rot’’). Surely their best performance in Greece and I hope they will play like that if I get to see them again. Unfortunately they played even less than Morgoth but we can’t have all we want sometimes…

Exodus have a hard task to play in front of a merely exhausted crowd, starting twenty minutes after twelve with ‘’The Last Act Of Defiance’’. Gary Holt is not with them but Rick Hunolt is so the (in)famous H-Team has still one to represent it. Rick is actually enjoying it so much, showing clean after his drug issues and seeing him after all these years smiling and banging in his back-front style, makes us smile too. ‘’Piranha’’ is dedicated to Obituary and Heathen from Rob Dukes (Morgoth were playing too dude), ‘’Shroud Of Urine’’ shows that we’ll listen to tracks up to ‘’Tempo Of The Damned’’ and ‘’Brain Dead’’ is a img_1234-copysample that I’m going to listen to the best Exodus setlist possible. Two more tracks from the legendary debut ‘’Bonded By Blood’’ are next, with ‘’Metal Command’’ followed by ‘’And Then There Were None’’ and when ‘’Pleasures Of The Flesh’’ starts, it seems there’s a little more life inside the thrashers inside the club, who go on moshing with everything left on them.

Rob Dukes believes the crowd is a little tired and announces it’s time to be given ‘’A Lesson In Violence’’, again frenzy takes over and when two more tracks from ‘’Tempo Of The Damnes’’ are played (‘’Scar Spangled Banner’’ and Blacklist’’) things seem to ease a bit. Something from 1982 which is ‘’Impaler’’ closes the main set, and when the band returns, ‘’Bonded By Blood’’ creates an atmosphere hard to describe (though I expected a little more chaos). Classics never die after all. ‘’War Is My Sheperd’’ is the right one to prepare the fans to do ‘’The Toxic Waltz’’ and ‘’Strike Of The Beast’’ ends the massacre. I can say I didn’t miss Gary Holt at all, Hunolt replaced him great and Altus ended up playing three hours that night. When Gary is off Slayer if Jeff Hanneman recovers, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Exodus to go on with three guitarists, an insane thought but why not? Exodus are still insane. The night closed the way it should, we barely could walk to reach home but the memory will remain forever. If some fans were less… talkative and just spoke through acts and if some others respect the promoters and what they do to make fans happy, then things will get better. The day that gigs may exist seldomly in Greece are close at hand, so NEVER take anything for granted.

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Report: Aggelos Katsouras.
Photos: Constantina Marinou.