Obituary – Thekla, Bristol 25/8/23

There are certain bands out there, where the feel of solid ground underneath your feet, is a reassuring feeling. Some bands are so monstrously heavy, that you can feel the venue shake and the threat of building collapse is very real. One of those bands is Florida Death Metal icons Obituary and in their infinite wisdom, somebody has decided to stick this force of musical nature on a damn boat in Bristol. If Trevor Peres’ unearthly, Celtic Frost inspired guitar tones don’t stomp a leak in this vessel tonight, then Donald Tardy’s thundering double bass pedal work almost certainly will.

I jest of course, the Thekla is a great venue and one the many jewels in Bristol’s underground music scene, but with that said, the moorings will be tested to the maximum tonight, by a jam-packed, sold-out crowd of rabid death metal enthusiasts. The 4-piece amble onstage and kick straight in to ‘Redneck Stomp’ a sure-fire crowd mover from the off and suddenly the Thekla is a hive of humans moshing in unison. As they launch into ‘Sentence Day’ from 2017’s ‘Obituary’ album, you realise how easy they make this death metal thing look. Each member represents a moving part of a finely tuned engine, with John Tardy’s guttural growl, revving it at every opportunity. As per the aforementioned album ‘A Lesson In Vengeance’ is up next with pits and crowd surfing, breaking out all over the place and ‘Visions In my Head’ sees perhaps the biggest reaction of the night so far.

But still the Thekla holds.

The first rumblings of new tracks come from the back-to-back pasting of ‘The Wrong Time’ and ‘Barely Alive’ and we go way back to the ‘Cause Of Death’ album with a double whammy of ‘Chopped In Half/Turned Inside Out, which takes us nicely into a small break, which the locals are not going to put up with and demand more. It all goes a little bit ‘One’ by Metallica as a military gun fire style intro tape precedes the ferocious ‘War’ With the last three chances to dance coming in the form of ‘Dying Of Everything’, ‘I’m In Pain’ and ‘Slowly We Rot’, quite frankly it’s a miracle that we aren’t sitting at the bottom of Bristol Harbour. But if we were, Obituary would certainly be the band I’d want to sing me to my grave.

Words: Chris Andrews Photos: Chris Sibley

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