Obscura & Abysmal Dawn in Hollywood: A Brutal Monday Night

By Andrew Bansal

Nov. 21st 2011, Key Club, Hollywood CA: Just a couple of weeks ago, German technical death metal band Obscura embarked on their first ever North American headline tour, along with support from Los Angeles-based death metal quartet Abysmal Dawn and Last Chance To Reason, a progressive metal outfit from Augusta, Maine. This was also Obscura’s first headline tour in any part of the world since they signed to Relapse Records. Previously, they toured here with Children Of Bodom as a support band last June, a tour that saw huge crowds and surely turned out to be a positive move for Obscura. But this time it’s their own tour, which means a longer set, something the US fans have been looking forward to for a while now. This tour made a stop at Hollywood’s Key Club last night on November 21st. It promised to be a tasty dose of shred and brutality, a promise it fulfilled.

Usually, the local openers that play Key Club shows are so despicable that I find it hard to even stay inside the building while they are playing. But last night it was refreshing to see two decent local extreme metal bands open up the show. First up was Incryption, followed by Defy The Mind. I enjoyed both bands. Their music was solid and stage presence was excellent. They certainly have a lot of promise and I’ll be on the lookout for them in future gigs, specially Incyption. Watching their black singer lay down some great vocals, I couldn’t help but think, the term black metal is so wrongly constructed. If the terms stoner metal and biker rock can exist based on the type of person that’s supposed to listen to the music rather than the musical style itself, why not black metal for music performed by black people? Food for thought?

After these two bands, Last Chance To Reason hit the stage. Performance-wise, they didn’t do a bad job whatsoever, but I’m just not a fan of their music. The vocals and music come across as a weird mix to me, and things don’t seem to fit. I’m not hating on them, but they aren’t my cup of tea. That is all.

Abysmal Dawn hit the stage next, and tore things up. They played a major chunk of their latest release “Leveling The Plane Of Existence”, with 6 out of the 8 songs played last night coming off of the album. The songs were sounding even better than they do on the studio recording, and their impact on the crowd was simply crushing, to say the least. Circle pits were going at full tilt, and plenty of heads were banging furiously. Frontman Charles Elliott did a great job on the vocals as well as guitar, and combined excellently with fill-in guitarist Andy Nelson, who also plays in Isolation In Infamy, another solid local death metal band. And not to forget, the rhythm section was absolutely relentless. Having seen them twice already earlier this year, I can honestly and safely say that this was the best of the three performances. This line-up really seemed to gel together and made things click. All in all, Abysmal Dawn brought their absolute A game last night, and put on an intense show. For me, the highlights of their set were “Rapture Renowned” and “Levelling The Plane Of Existence”. For some reason, they ended up playing only 30 minutes even though the Key Club listed their set duration as 45 minutes. Not sure why. May be the set times were wrongly listed. Nonetheless, a terrific performance!

Set list:
1. Servants To Their Knees
2. My Own Savior
3. Rapture Renowned
4. Perpetual Dormancy
5. Programmed To Consume
6. Manufactured Humanity
7. Leveling The Plane Of Existence
8. In Service Of Time

The wait for Obscura wasn’t very long, and at 18 minutes past 10, they hit the stage all guns blazing with material from their latest release “Omnivium”. It was great to see them play a good portion of this killer album, because it deserves to be played live as much as possible. But they also mixed in some fantastic songs from the Cosmogenesis album, including the crowd favorite “The Anticosmic Overload”. It was four minutes and a few seconds of pure awesomeness, and it wasn’t hard to tell that everyone in the crowd was enjoying this tune, as pandemonium broke loose on that floor. But besides the staples, I was glad to see some songs they have never played for us before, mainly due to set time restrictions on the support tours of the past. “Incarnated” was one of these, and sounded nothing short of epic. I felt that the 9-song set was a good selection of songs, and was just about perfect in duration, although it would have been even better had they played one more song. Perhaps “Concerto” from the Omnivium album would have been interesting. I was really hoping to hear that one, but may be next time. They did have time to include a drum solo though. I usually don’t dig drum solos all that much, but Hannes Grossmann’s solo was very entertaining and skillful, and certainly one of the best drum solos I’ve seen all year. I hope they keep it in the set in future headline tours. Of course, frontman Steffen Kummerer was flawless in his musicianship and endearing in his interaction with the grateful fans. He also introduced Linus Klausenitzer as the new bassist. Linus did not disappoint either, and did justice to the hugely challenging bass section Obscura songs invariably boast of.

Despite this being a Monday night and Obscura’s first ever headline gig here, the crowd turned up in pretty good numbers for the gig, and was very vocal in their support of Obscura and Abysmal Dawn. Overall, I rate this tour as a must-see event. Check out the tour dates here, and treat yourself to a compelling, highly enjoyable barrage of technical precision combined with old-school brutality.

(Note: I’m not posting the Obscura set list because I’m not a 100% sure about it, and don’t want to mislead anyone. If you were at the show and know the set list for sure, feel free to post it as a comment below)

Rating: 9/10

Related: Obscura interview

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