Date: Wednesday, 6th February 2019
Review By: Pete Mutant
Photography By: Talie Rose Eigeland
The Cathouse again, two days in a row, as 24hrs ago I was there watching Psycroptic and Aversions Crown, among others, laying waste to the Glasgow crowd. It was a mixed bag last night but this night’s music was a bit more nuanced, let’s say. German progressive death metal outfit Obscura were back in town again, but headlining this time; the last time they were stopping by this city was in support of Sepultura. I think it was eight years prior to that when they last played Glasgow, so these kind of shows are rare delights that should be savoured.
They were bringing with them a fairly stacked package with some bands that I had not seen before. I saw Fallujah in this same venue six years ago in support of Carnifex, but it was going to be a first time for me seeing First Fragment and Allegaeon as they hadn’t come onto my radar at all up until this point. There was some definite intrigue in it for me and I was expecting quite a techy night of music which was going to attract a certain kind of crowd.
There was a decent sized crowd already there for the first band of the night in First Fragment [3.5/5]. I may have missed a few songs, but once I got there, I was instantly impressed. The mix wasn’t amazing but the music that came through was pretty high in quality. They were very techy and slightly progressive, and very adept at their trade. Phil Tougas was a beast on the guitar with some rather fantastical lead work going into his Jackson guitar.
There were some classical elements to their music which really did raise an eyebrow or two. The riffs were in constant flux and there was quite the duel going on between Phil Tougas and bassist Dominic Laponte at one point, with a sort of a call and response switch going on. Tougas was stealing the show though and there was one section of lead that went on for a good couple of minutes. The last song of the set was ‘Paradoxal Subjugation’, which opened with a brutal elongated scream from vocalist David AB. The harmonising guitars were so powerful and alive with electricity. It was a great introduction to this band and served as a top start to the night.
Next up were Allegaeon [4.0/5] and they started off brilliantly with ‘All Hail Science’. It was dirty. Filthy. Beautiful. For a band to announce themselves like that was just what you would want and it seemed that everyone there was thinking the same. They were quite techy but there was just the right amount of groove going on there as well. By the second track, some in the crowd were trying to generate a pit but it may have been too early on.
Allegaeon were driving on hard and took us back to their first album for the track ‘Biomech’, which was a belter of a track, full of shreddy harmonising and some tremendous drumming. Vocalist Riley McShane kept the crowd going and demanded a pit for the last track, which he got as this one seemed to be a fan favourite: ‘Behold (God I Am)’. The set was short but very sweet and it was some way to set up the crowd for the next act.
Fallujah [3.5/5] had some big changes going on before this tour. Guitarist Brian James left the band and was replaced by Danny Tunker, they got a new vocalist, Antonio Palermo, and they announced a new album; all in quick succession. They took to the stage and opened up with ‘Carved From Stone’ and there seemed to be a much different aura being omitted from this band. Antonio Palermo looked possessed by rage and delivered a vocal tirade of mad screams when the heavier parts kicked in. There was more of an atmosphere in terms of tension, the music was very layered and shifted between cleaner and heavier passages in a slightly progressive manner.
Heads were banging in unison as ‘Sapphire’ came on as the bass dropped hard, assisted by the backing track from the laptop. People in the audience were really getting behind the band but I wasn’t feeling it at all really. Not that they weren’t great at what they do, it’s just not my cup of tea, but there were moments that were quite enjoyable such as the riff in ‘Scar Queen’. There just wasn’t enough of that for me. Plus, most of the lead work from Scott Carstairs was pretty similar from one track to the next so there was consistency but nothing unexpected.
‘Amber Daze’ was the second last song of the set as announced by Antonio and I was rather pleased at that as my urge to see some Obscura was ever growing.They put one last show of effort into the last track, ‘The Void Alone’, and Antonio went right up to the crowd and screamed without his mic to hand, creating a powerful closing scene. The crowd really seemed to enjoy Fallujah’s set, it just wasn’t something that really captivated me. They were good for what they are but I just found it a bit dull.
The time had finally come and it was Obscura’s [4.0/5] turn to take to the stage and they started with a new track in ‘Emergent Evolution’, which drove with pace with a lighter and more melodic tone than some of what was to come. There was some excellent lead work from Rafael Trujillo with tapped notes that slid up and down the fretboard, creating a tone that was quite remarkable. A pit occurred during the second track, ‘Ten Sepiroth’, which was announced by someone smashing into the back of me, spilling some of my beer; how dare they! Best keep yourself aware at gigs like this in Glasgow, or anywhere for that matter.
The title track for ‘Diluvium’ had some almighty filthy bottom end brilliance in it and heads were well and truly banging away throughout the set. Most of the band walked off, leaving bassist Linus Klausenitzer to take the central focus as he worked his seven sting bass in an intriguing display of quite deep and emotive work. The band walked back in as they built up and exploded with ‘Septuagint’ and the audience was connecting with shouts of “hey, hey,” ringing loud. We also got a nice display of lead from the main man himself, Steffen Kummerer, who looked nothing but assured and composed as you could imagine of someone with so much talent.
The death metal elements were so heavy but were always surrounded by the band’s willingness to take the sound to other realms. When they go for the bottom end stuff, it is glorious, but so are the more progressive passages that evolve the songs with complex melodies that swirl the atmosphere in a far reaching manner. It doesn’t overstep or betray, but it does give us something entirely different to chew on and keeps you on your toes for the next wave to flow over you. ‘Ode To The Sun’ had this in heaps and had such a brilliant break to it and some excellent drumming from drummer Sebastian Lanser.
Sadly, the Cathouse has an early curfew and the nature of this stacked lineup had left us a couple of tracks short when conflicting with this. We were going to infinity for the last two songs though, as we got the more proggy ‘Perpetual Infinity’, which switched from clean to rapid heaviness, inspiring the pitters to go at it again as the set was winding down. There was more brilliant drumming in this one, as there was for our last track of the night, ‘An Epilogue To Infinity’. It also had more devilishly heavy death metal going on at parts and heads were banging throughout the venue. It was a top way to end the set and the night, as they were the headliner and the pick of the bunch, albeit with Allegaeon being a close second. That wraps up gigs at the Cathouse for now, but there’s MGLA in March to look forward to so I may just be back once again in the very near future. I hope it won’t be long before Obscura are back round these parts and hopefully they’ll play ‘Ocean Gateways’ again next time…