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Geneva, Switzerland @ L’Usine, Thursday 23 / 02 / 2006

by Audrey Dujardin

On February 23rd, we had eagerly driven through the Alps to Geneva in the middle of the week for a fine evening of brutality, gore and worm eating. On this winter evening in Switzerland, l’Usine was witness to a showcase of death metal reference-bands: the Domination Tour.

The evening began early, with somewhat non-impressive thrash metallers Hurtlocker from the USA, who seemed to play knowing that their only role in the position of opening band is to do just that, get the crowd away from the bar and into the pit. There was nothing wrong with the music, but let’s face it, the crowd was there for those death metal bands, and could care less about Hurtlocker, no matter how many times the singer said ‘make some fucking noise’ or ‘drink some fucking beer’. And besides, with 6 bands to listen to, most of the audience wasn’t even there yet.

Next up were Vesania. This was my first black metal show in a long time, and this performance wasn’t displeasing. The embryo of a moshpit was beginning to form in front of the stage, and the band was alive and kicking. Vesania play black metal very much in the vein of Behemoth, and count in their ranks Daray, drummer from Vader - who is just a notch below Inferno on drums - and Orion, singer and guitarist for Vesania is Behemoth’s bassist, who doesn’t match Nergal on guitar either. Naturally, both bands are from Poland, and have similar styles and gimmicks, and the influences can be seen all the way into the corpse paint designs, quasi identical between Orion and Nergal. A good live act, nice music, but nothing really new or impressive. On top of it all, Vesania were the only black metal/corpse paint band of the line-up that night, and quite certainly there were less black metal fans out in that death metal audience.

Aborted were next up, and I was glad to finally be able to see them live. Indeed, those Belgian gore-death metallers are a trademark most fans have heard of, and I was extremely curious to watch Sven and cohorts live. I was especially wondering what their new guitarist Sebastien from Paris and composer of one-man project Balrog and Olivia on bass were worth. I’d heard Olivia’s reputation as a killer bassist precede her, and I wanted to see this for myself. Aborted’s setlist was composed of an equal amount of tunes from ‘the Archaic Abattoir’ and ‘Goremaggedon’, and of ‘Engineering the Dead’. Sven was moving like a bear in a cage, and really gave it his all, and Gilles did a good job behind the drums. And about Olivia, her reputation was not overrated. She surprisingly plays on a fretless 4 string, but I was standing next to the bass amp for a while, and she didn’t screw up one note, not even on the fast parts. I must say that on the whole, the studio songs were very well interpreted live.

Germany’s thrash/death metallers Dew Scented took over the stage next. Dew Scented are maybe slightly even more thrash than death metal even, since the guitar riffs and drum compositions were a bit repetitive. Furthermore, the lead guitarist didn’t seem to be in best shape, since he skipped a few notes here and there in the guitar solii.

Fifth on the evening’s line up were the Swedish trio Grave. The band’s music was just about as catchy on studio as live with a clean drumming and riffs that were very badass, yet not ultra-technical. The set would have been excellent if there hadn’t been important sound problems on the last half. Indeed, the singer got several electric shocks with a first microphone and then with a second one. And once this first problem was solved, the guitar amp gave up. This is very unfortunate for the band, since the audience began to move back to the bar. Grave were still able to play their last song, before leaving the stage to Cryptopsy.

Canadian death metal veterans Cryptopsy entered the stage, and played on their own drum kit, whereas the other bands shared another drum kit throughout the whole concert. Cryptopsy’s drums were hidden under a sheet during the whole show, making the anticipation grow for something truly insane, given the size of the thing. Indeed, their equipment was impressive, counting two snares, a myriad of cymbals and even some electronic pads. Technically speaking, Cryptopsy have a great mastering of their instruments, and offered a rare musical delight. The intensity of the show was aired out by a few pauses here and there, but the whole gig was just so brutal and dense that it’s good thing Lord Worm came back to entertain us with weird comments or culinary delicacies. In this case, live worms, which he shared with the excited fans in the front row. The performance of Cryptopsy lasted for over an hour, and around 1h30 AM, the lights turned back on and we rushed back home to our beds, with a 9 o’clock start the next day in Lyon…

On the whole, the Domination Tour was all it promised to be: a brutal interlude in our work week. And it was good to see some reference death metal bands perform such an intense and lively set. If you can still catch this tour on the road I definitely advise you to go!



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