Thy Art Is Murder Live 03/02/14 @ Nottingham Rock City

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Boasting a huge turnout for a wet and rainy Monday night, this four act gig demonstrates once and for all that there is life yet in a metal scene that all too many parties seem determined to declare dead. Rock City basement is one of those venues that oozes character and with a passionate audience in attendance the place truly comes alive with the sound of voices and laughter all but overpowering the music blasted out over the PA between bands.

Due to the early start of the gig we arrive after Aegaeon have dispensed with the crowd, although the reactions from the audience suggest it was a powerful opening, and thus the first band of the night for SonicAbuse is Aversions Crown a six-piece deathcore outfit from Brisbane. Successfully setting off a circle pit within minutes of hitting the stage, Aversions Crown unleash a ferocious percussive assault with down-tuned guitars and a vocalist who seems intent on vomiting up his spleen on stage. Laden with testosterone and spite the set is short and potent with the band even conjuring up a brief djent groove at one point, although the overall set lacks variety. Indeed, whilst the furious mosh pit suggests that the crowd care little for intricacy when so much brutality is on offer to mosh to, you can’t help but wish that the band would use their undoubted talent to develop a more adventurous sound, away from the increasingly ghettoised deathcore formula. A powerful set then, but the band need to indulge their imaginations if they wish to raise their place on the bill.

Next up are rising Century Media artists Heart of a coward and the temperature of the venue easily raises a few notches. With recent album ‘severance’ to promote and a sound that glistens with mechanical precision, the band unleash hell upon the steaming pit with their strong tech groove and brutal djent excursions. Whilst the album emphasised the cold, hard precision of the band, the live show places the emphasis much more squarely on Jamie Graham who prowls the small stage like a man possessed. Clearly revelling in the chance to interact so closely with such a vocal and enthusiastic audience the band play their hearts out, powering through ‘nightmare’, ‘shade’ and, best of all, the amazing ‘we stand as one’, which sees the whole venue raising their fists aloft. Varied, despite the extremity, and delivered with a blazing, unstoppable passion, Heart of a coward’s set is a showcase and promises great things for the future.

With the audience already leaning towards the exhausted having gone mental for the previous bands, you’d be forgiven for thinking Thy art is murder would have a tough job, but with an album of the quality of ‘Hate’, the band were never going to find it difficult to motivate the audience to find that extra energy and so it transpires. From the moment the ominous intro explodes into the band’s crushingly unforgiving deathcore the pit is heaving to the extent that the SonicAbuse photographer gets trapped behind the barrier at the front and remains there for the entire show, ducking only to avoid the flailing bodies being heaved to safety by the venue’s one, overworked security guard. So, so much heavier live than on record, the clean, angular grooves are blurred into a fantastically bloody, aural assault on the person that leaves the senses reeling. With raucous blast beats and inhuman vocals filtered, it seems, through the very bowels of hell itself, this is primal, metallic savagery at its finest and there’s no question that when it comes to deathcore, Thy art is murder are at the very top of the heap.

With Chris McMahon resplendent in a Hannibal t shirt, the band unleash a varied set ranging from the old school grind of ‘infinite death’ to the monumental ‘purest strain of hate’ which sees Chris mount the bar on the far side of the venue whilst the pit takes up half the venue (the first of two times that this happens). As subtle as a bottle to the face and twice as bloody, the set ends with the band looking exhausted and elated following a remorseless ‘coward’s throne’, and yet both they and the crowd find the strength for a scarifying encore of ‘reign of darkness’ which sees Chris once again return to the bar top, much to the bemusement of the bar staff, whilst the venue all but tears itself apart. Unquestionably Thy art is murder rule the night, but for a while there it was a close run thing, and the brilliant line up demonstrates just how much life there still is within the metal scene.

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