GIG REVIEW: Obscura, Fallujah, Allegaeon & First Fragment Live at Le Trabendo, Paris
Paris, and specifically Le Trabendo, hosted the German technical death masters Obscura and their three-band entourage on the 9th of February as spectators laid witness to a barrage of absurdly complex instrumentation fronted by piercing harsh vocals.
First on stage were First Fragment, the Canadian band that put out a great album, ‘Dasein’, back in 2014. The bassist and his instrument were at center-stage here, with the latter being upped in the mix for maximum effect. The drums set the pace, with the shirtless drummer being his proactive best during the short duration the band was on stage. The songs included were the hookiest, a few voice clips were added as breaks and there was an even guitar solo medley to keep things heated.
American melodic / tech death metal band Allegaeon were next up and reminded us that this was their second time in Paris. I’d been to their first performance with Ne Obliviscaris and was impressed then, but this time I was more familiar with their material. Frontman Riley McShane has a powerful, booming voice and was even more energetic live, letting out deep, hurling screams that Ihsahn would be proud of: I earmarked “Biomech” as one of the songs where he had one of those. He also continually coercing the crowd to get a mosh going, and they followed orders without hesitation. The band missed a beat exploiting his competent cleans, though, for the occasion it makes sense. They also played “Stellar Tidal Disruption”, a track from the upcoming record. The most fun track to listen to live was “1.618”, a song that always gets me on my feet.
The biggest surprise of the night was Fallujah from California. As I’m not really a fan of their studio efforts, mostly because of how awful they sound dynamical, but their live performance was a breath of fresh air. After spending a long time with the soundcheck, they entered the stage, enveloping the audience in their intense atmospherics. While I still feel the guitars were a bit too robotic, the drummer Andrew Baird was extraordinary while frontman Antonio Palermo (A recent recruit, if I’m not wrong) was very intense and energetic, crowd-surfing a couple of times and even accepting a sip of beer from the crowd. The guitars came to life during “Sapphire”, though the high notes remained slightly annoying to the ear. The crowd loved them, moshing without impelling. The band also debuted two new songs, “Ultraviolet” and “Last Light” (Not sure of the latter’s name) off their upcoming album ‘Undying Light’.
Last on the stage were the German headliners, opening with “Emergent Evolution” off the new album. ‘Diluvium’ is my favorite Obscura record, and I was excited to hear the songs live. The song selection wasn’t ideal in my eyes (Would have liked “Clandestine Stars” and “Ethereal Skies” to be included), but “Mortification of the Vulgar Sun”, the title track and “An Epilogue to Infinity” more than quenched my thirst. The rest were classic concert staples that got the neck muscles working overtime. From ‘Omnivium’ and ‘Cosmogenesis’ were “Septuagint”, “Incarnated”, and the encore “The Anticosmic Overlord”, which honestly sounded better live than on record. Vocalist/Guitarist Steffen Kummerer explained that they were pretty much obliged to play “The Anticosmic Overlord” live and its chugs reminded me of their spin-off band Alkaloid. Regarding the performances, the vocalist sounded strangely harsher live than on record, which isn’t a bad thing, though the vocoder bits were left to sound samples and could have made for an interesting variation. The instrumentalists stood up on a small mantle whenever they were showcasing their skills, which made it easier to focus on who’s doing what. I like how the band’s songs always give enough pauses for the bassist Linus Klausenitzer to shine and this worked well live too.
Finally, the venue, La Trabendo has been hit and miss for me regarding sound in the past year or two but the live mixer did a good job for most of the night. Since so much goes on in tech death, ensuring everyone gets a slice of the cake is a big challenge, but s/he performed admirably given the circumstances. Auditory highlights include the bass on First Fragment, guitars on Allegaeon and drums on Fallujah, while the overall sound on Obscura was great. The guitar subtleties were slightly lost, but this is to be expected; I’ve heard far worse sounds off the same stage before.
Obscura and it’s North American openers put on a fine show on the evening, ensuring the crowd got its money’s worth of moshes and headbangs.