Death

Amager Bio, Copenhagen - 2015

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Death, Death To All, Death (DTA) – a loved child has many names as we say here in Scandinavia, and even though this is clearly the version without Chuck Schuldiner, and despite the fact that Steve DiGiorgio called this version a cover band and an homage, and with our overactive imagination trapped in a corner we’re going to pull the plug on all the new terms and just use the name Death from now on, just to avoid any… Lack of comprehension. (wordplay stops now)

“We’d like to invite you to take part in the legacy left by our good friend Chuck Schuldiner.”
- Steve DiGiorgio (bass)


The line-up this evening consisted of some amazing musicians, namely DiGiorgio on bass, Bobby Koelble on guitar, Gene Hoglan on drums, and lastly Max Phelps on vocals and guitars (you may or may not know him as a live-participant of Cynic). Incidentally, Koelble and Hoglan was 50% of the Symbolic crew, which leads us to the next point – not only was the band out celebrating the memory of metal icon Schuldiner, but also the 20th anniversary of said album! On top of that, this was also the last show of the tour, so any residual energy was sure to be burnt off here. As you can imagine, the pressure was on to make one hell of an impression!
Now, the crowd was already good and warm from an entertaining show by Abysmal Dawn (we missed out on Loudblast because the ticket office had gotten the times messed up), so when the slowly building keyboard intro rang out of the speakers, and only a few lights were lit, concentrating on a simple Death logo on the backdrop, shouts were already ringing in the hall. Despite the fact that Amager Bio wasn’t nearly as filled as I would have imagined it to be, the atmosphere was there, and it was good.
It didn’t take long for the band to enter the stage and get the show going with The Philosopher, but somehow it was as if something was missing, and that one vital thing was a connection to the crowd.
Sure, Death had the same insanely well mixed and levelled sound as Abysmal Dawn had had before them, and while their playing was impeccable, the energy itself had yet to show itself. Koelble managed a bit of eye contact with the people standing closest to him once in a while, but other than that, nothing much was moving in the beginning of the set.

One song replaced another without delay, but even though it would take some time before anyone in the band actually said anything, at least the musicians began opening up slowly during the songs, where especially DiGiorgio seemed to get more and more relaxed and playful. It was a bit odd seeing him in sandals, but that’s beside the musical point.
When it came to actually speaking, it was again DiGiorgio who took the helm and handled about 95% of the conversation, with Koelble only taking over for a short remark to say thanks to DiGiorgio after he had spent some time thanking the rest of the band members, the other band, and the entire crew individually. Hoglan wasn’t seen much behind his drums, but his presence and technique could be felt with every pound which felt like a hammer blow directly to our chest, and Phelps was the only one truly anonymous in the band.
Phelps wasn’t the only getting to sing with the band however, as long-time friend and fellow musician Steffen Kummerer (Obscura, Thulcandra) took over vocal and part guitar duties during the last three songs before the intermission. I actually preferred Kummerer to Phelps simply because he had much more of a presence and personality on stage, making him more interesting to watch.
Phelps was back for the encore, but again gave away the mic for the last song of the evening, this time to Charles Elliot (Abysmal Dawn), who incidentally had held Phelps’ position during the first Death To All tour back in 2012.

“We’re only a cover band, and we hope you’ll have a good time here with us.”
- DiGiorgio (bass)


As had been the case with Abysmal Dawn before them, Death did not garnish a very physical response from the Copenhagen crowd, but the enthusiasm was there nonetheless which was clear on the loud shouts of appreciation the band got in between songs.
It went a bit better than for the aforementioned support band tough, as there were a few more people headbanging this time around, and Death was blessed with a fully functional and nicely sized moshpit when Spirit Crusher came on, and when after this it was time to sing Happy Birthday to Phelps everyone chimed in enthusiastically.
This being the last show of the tour and all, we weren’t about to miss out on some shenanigans from the other bands either, and although it was less playing around this time than it had been during the Abysmal Dawn gig, Death got a taste of it as well, as members of Loudblast and Abysmal Dawn shortly took the stage during Crystal Mountain, and Elliot gave away Vodka to the crowd, and pretended to iron Phelps shirt while the latter tried hard not to lose his concentration.

A show stretching nearly to the minute for two hours finally drew to an end, and while it had enough going for it on paper to tear not only the building but also the entire city down, the guys seemingly intentionally chose to take it in another direction. As DiGiorgio had commented earlier, this was more about having a good time, and to this goal Death’s success rate was absolute – this was, if such a thing exists, a cosy and pleasant death metal gig, where musical delivery and a positive atmosphere took precedence over sweaty headbanging and all out action. Surprising, but really nice when you think about it. One might even say that instead of being baptized in blood and feeling a flattening of emotions, we received a nice dose of spiritual healing…

Setlist:

The Philosopher
Leprosy / Left To Die
Suicide Machine
Overactive Imagination
Trapped In A Corner
1,000 Eyes
Without Judgement
Foxy Lady (The Jimi Hendrix Experience jam)
Lack Of Comprehension
Spiritual Healing / Within The Mind
Flattening Of Emotions
Symbolic (feat. Steffen Kummerer)
Zero Tolerance (feat. Steffen Kummerer)
Bite The Pain (feat. Steffen Kummerer)
Spirit Crusher
Zombie Ritual / Baptized In Blood
Crystal Mountain
Pull The Plug (feat. Charles Elliot)

Death

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