Obituary. A band synonymous with the Florida death metal scene that gave way to an entire genre of heavy metal. The death metal titans return to Glasgow in support of their stellar tenth album, and have brought California thrashers Exmortus along for the ride. Despite it being a mid-week show, The Classic Grand is well filled out by a sea of black t-shirts, swinging hair and Viking beards, ready for a night of brutality.
Glasgow locals Titan Breed opened the show early after doors. Still energised from winning Bloodstock’s Metal 2 The Masses last year and performing an excellent set on the New Blood stage, Titan Breed offered a highly entertaining, tight set. With a sound that could only be described as modern metal, the five-piece blended elements of thrash and melodic death metal with a heavy groove that become notable with the New Wave of American Heavy Metal in the early 2000s, and a few proggy touches thrown in for good measure. Well received by the crowd, Titan Breed did an excellent job in warming up the venue for Exmortus, and are certainly a band to keep an eye on.
Exmortus are a hard band to pigeonhole. Though their sound is certainly rooted in Bay Area thrash, a heavy neoclassical influence mixed with hints of death metal brutality and a power metal attitude make the quartet one of the most interesting and unique thrash bands in the game. Frontman Jadran “Conan” Gonzalez recruited drummer Adrian Aguiler and fellow Californian thrasher Chase Becker of Warbringer for this run, and, despite a minor drum hiccup at the start of “Make Haste” the quartet, completed by bassist Phillip Nuñez, performed a supremely tight, highly entertaining set. Shredding through hit tracks “For The Horde” and “Death To Tyrants” from their most recent album, Ride Forth, Exmortus showcased superb musicianship and an onstage chemistry most bands could only hope to achieve. Older classics “Immortality Made Flesh” and “Foe Hammer” went down extremely well with the crowd, and Exmortus brought their thunderous set to a close with a wonderfully shreddy rendition of Act 3 from Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” followed closely by “Metal Is King.” This was the first time Exmortus played in Scotland, but it would a great shame if we didn’t see them again in the near future.
After a surprisingly quick set up, Obituary entered the stage to “Snorting Whisky, Drinking Cocaine” by Pat Travers blasting through the PA system. As the stage was bathed in a nuclear green light, Obituary sans-John Tardy thundered through “Redneck Stomp” before the iconic vocalist took to the stage, met by deafening cheers. The Floridan death metal legends quickly blasted through “Sentence Day” and “Visions In My Head” – from their 2017 self-titled offering and 2014’s Inked In Blood, respectively – before crashing into what is arguably the most iconic song in their discography – Cause of Death’s “Chopped In Half.” With barely a still neck in the house, a mash of bodies in the pit and a constant stream of crowdsurfers flying over the barrier, the classic track went down an absolute storm encouraging movement from even the most reserved of fans.
After finishing “Chopped In Half,” the quintet went on to showcase just how punishing the new material is in the live setting, blasting through “A Lesson In Vengeance,” “Brave,” “No,” “Turned To Stone” and “Straight To Hell,” before ending the night with another classic – the title track from Obituary’s 1989 debut Slowly We Rot.
Obituary have always had a slightly different approach from their peers. While Death tried to push the boundaries of what death metal could be as far as possible, Morbid Angel trademarked their chaotic, cosmically horrifying brand of death metal and Cannibal Corpse focussed on gore above all else, Obituary carved their niche from groove. While never simplistic, Obituary songs have such a strong focus on actual song-writing, with more hooks and groove than any death metal band has a right to. Though charismatic on stage, when excellent presence and brilliant chemistry, the Tardy Brothers and co. let the groove-laden brutality and iconic vocals speak for themselves – and they proclaimed that the old-school is the future.