DEATH - BENEDICTION - PRE MORTEM
NOORDERLIGT, TILBURG, NETHERLANDS, 2 OCTOBER 1998
By the time I arrived at Noorderligt, Tilburg, first act Pre Mortem had already started. Drawing from their debut album, "False Gleam", they played "Post Human Exhibition", "Blurred Expiry" and several other tracks, closing off with the unusually structured "Sombred Subsistence" and the Golden Earring cover "When the Lady Smiles". The audience reacted in a positively lukewarm fashion, which is hardly what this band deserves.
When Benediction took to the stage the audience seemed to gasp in surprise. Dave Ingram had been replaced by someone with an obvious "I'm-not-Dave-Ingram-and-if-you-don't-like-it-then-you-can-all-sod-off" attitude. Still, he did an admirable job doing the songs, even though the stage was littered with lyrical notes and hooks. Similarly, bassist Frank Healy had been replaced for the tour by someone who could hardly be more ill-fitting in Benediction. Still he, too, took care of the honours sufficiently.
We got a 45-minute "best of" set, including quite a few new tracks (including "Deadfall", "Agonised", "West of Hell", "Magnificat" and, I think, "Shadow World" and "We the Freed", though unfortunately not the title track, "Grind Bastard"), as well as some older tracks like "Subconscious Terror" (and methinks I also heard "Dark is the Season", "Violation Domain" and "Down on Whores (Leave Them All for Dead)"). Although Benediction's part of the evening really had been quite enjoyable, it was not them I had most looked forward to see...
You'll have to forgive me for not having been able to recognise some of the 'old' Death material. I learned to appreciate Death at the time of "Individual Thought Patterns", when they had progressed from an archetype death metal band with good riffs into an archetype death metal band with killer riffs and technically amazing musicianship.
Pressed against the barrier I was in the perfect position to enjoy the gig. I had 20/20 vision on both Chuck's and Shannon's guitar antics, and with regularity I could catch a glimpse of what ex-Acheron-total-animal-of-a-drummer Richard Christy was up to. One should not underestimate Death's musical capabilities; Chuck is one mean rhythm/solo guitarist and Christy, like I have already mentioned before, is just f&*@ing awesome. I don't think anyone missed Gene Hoghlan at all.
After the opener, "The Philosopher", Death put quite some emphasis on the challenging tracks off their latest albums, including just about every track from "The Sound of Perseverance" (including "Bite the Pain", "Spirit Crusher", "Flesh and the Power it Holds", "A Moment of Clarity" and my total favourite, "Scavenger of Human Sorrow").
With the exception of about 5-10 minutes during which there was some trouble with Chuck's guitar - filled up by impromptu solos by Shannon Hamm (guitar) and Christy - the gig was a well-choreographed but sufficiently enthusiastic performance. Apart from material off their latest album, they also performed, not in order (please do note my apology regarding 'old' Death material): "Symbolic", "Together as One", "Spiritual Healing", "Leprosy" (?), "In Human Form" (?), "Suicide Machine", "Zero Tolerance", "Left to Die" (?) and "Pull the Plug" (the latter as part of the encore).
The members of the audience weren't the only ones who'd had a ball of a time after the headliners had left the stage. Halfway during Death's performance, Benediction's Daz and Neil showed up in the back, banging their heads right off.
A very enjoyable night.
Written October 1998
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