Sometimes great opportunities that you think would never happen just come right out of the blue. St. Louis is fortunate enough to have hard-working promoters and bookers at different levels to try their damnedest to bring in diverse musical acts, including those in the heavy metal genre. And it’s great to see it when these very same promoters try not only to branch out, but also top themselves from their previous achievements. And what better way to reach such an achievement than bringing one of the most influential and respected death metal bands back to St. Louis for the first time in over two decades?
Fubar opened their doors on Thursday, October 17 to what started out as a rather small crowd and the first local opener Enflesh. A rather eclectic little death metal outfit with bouts of surprisingly melodic guitar parts juxtaposed against deathgrind vocals. The owner of those vocals showcased his keyboard talents in the second opener, Eternium. This symphonic black metal band is fronted by an exceptionally talented teen that was somehow able to successfully form a band with the chops to not only emulate the sounds that European extreme metal is known for, but has the potential to be regarded just as impressive of an act. It’s unfortunate that their epic song structure was not as well represented through the sound of the venue as when they opened for Nile at The Firebird on St. Patrick’s Day earlier this year.
The final local opener was one of the St. Louis area’s longest running names in death metal, Animated Dead. Now a three-piece, the group seems to not have slowed down over the years, still shelling out impressively crushing jams. The most entertaining member of the group was the bassist, clearly having no regard for anyone or anything and focused just on his playing and his incredibly energetic, over-the-top stage antics and mannerisms, smiling with glee the whole time. Animated Dead’s set transitioned naturally into the final opener and only act traveling with Obituary, Maryland’s Strong Intention. The contestant speed and intensity of grind and occasional hardcore groove kept you guessing all throughout their set. Political lyrics coupled with off-the-cuff snarky humor also kept you interested as well.
By the time that Obituary was ready to take the stage, the crowd had grown to nearly sellout status of rabid metal fans, not bad for a Thursday night. The band came out and wasted absolutely no time ripping into their set, flawlessly shredding through classic songs including “Bloodsoaked,” “Immortal Visions,” “Cause Of Death,” “Gates To Hell,” “Infected,” “Chopped In Half,” “Turned Inside Out,” “Body Bag,” and of course closing their encore with “Slowly We Rot.” A band that had been around as long as Obituary would be expected to slow down and exhibit a weakened sound, but what was so impressive and special about the band’s set in St. Louis was how tight they still sounded; so true to the studio recordings fans know and love. A man of few words between songs, John Tardy’s viscously raspy voice still sounded as strong and well-supported as ever. His brother, Donald Tardy’s drumming still bounced back and forth between technical and groovy, even during his enjoyable solo that started out their encore.
Many factors are at play when music fans begin to lose hope in seeing a band come back to their city, especially in the constant shifts within scenes and communities. But as long as there are fans at venues – both patrons and even the bookers themselves – that are as passionate about the music as the artists themselves, then the possibility of another great show on the stop of a tour will always be there. Proving support from those hungry to hear the music can continue to keep bands and venues going; whether from a fan buying a ticket, or donating to something like say, oh I don’t know, Obituary’s crowdfunding campaign to self-produce and release their next album…