Obituary @ The Amplifer Bar (Perth), 22 Nov 2009

Final thoughts… final thoughts!

A small but dedicated crowd gathered at the Amplifier Bar on what was a warm Perth Sunday. There was an air of quiet anticipation – and with good reason, because although legendary Florida death metallers Obituary played in Perth for the first time in their 20 year career back in 2007, this would be their first time playing here with a full line-up: Ralph Santolla, a Florida death metal legend himself best known for his work in Deicide, joining the lineup to replace the troubled Allen West on lead guitar.

First it was up to local tech death outfit Grotesque to kick things off. New gutteralist Dan Coombs seems to fit into the band well and it’s good to see them gigging again. As well as some familiar tracks, a couple of new, groove-heavy songs were tried out on the punters and met with the same politely-restrained enthusiasm that had been the order of the night thus far. Sucks to be the first band up on a Sunday.

Chaos Divine were next. Back from their first ever European tour, it’s noticeable that the experience has jumped the guys leagues ahead in terms of their stagecraft and confidence – they take to the stage like seasoned professionals and just rock the fuck out. A prog metal band might seem an odd choice for Obituary support, but Chaos delivered a great set and even managed to get the crowd to wake up a little. Notably, both guitarists were absolutely top notch players and the band’s material gave them plenty of opportunity to shine. And it’s not often you see a local band with multiple fans so dedicated that they know all the words to all the songs and stand at the front belting them out!

A lot of gear-fiddling later, it was time for the headline act. Donald Tardy, Trevor Perez, Ralph Santolla, Frank Watkins and John Tardy emerged, grooving to a strangely out of place rap track which I later learned was a Necro track from his album featuring Trevor Perez and John Tardy in guest spots, and ripped into List of Dead – albeit briefly. Moments into the first song, Trevor’s amp blew, leading to a 5 minute wait while a replacement was found. Sadly, this wasn’t the first drama with the hired equipment that evening and it wouldn’t be the last, with Trevor’s noise gate needing emergency replacement a few songs later. From the huddled discussions and constant knob-twiddling, it was obvious that Frank and Ralph’s gear was also not up to scratch. Trevor apologised to the now-getting-restless crowd and explained the situation, finishing with a choice suggestion for what the hire company could go and do. Kudos is definitely due to local guitar dude Perry Ormsby who did much of the running around and got the show back on track.

When their gear finally got working, Obituary delivered what the punters were here to see: great old school death metal. The set list featured heavily from current release Darkest Day, 2007’s Xecutioner’s Return, and their EP from last year, Left for Dead. That’s the great thing about this band – their new material is every bit as nasty and heavy as their oldest material, and you don’t need to be familiar with the songs to get into them.  A few classics made it into the set, of course. To the disappointment of many, there was no Chopped In Half, but there was Dying, Final Thoughts, Threatening Skies, and a blistering Slowly We Rot to end the set.

The whole band were firing and in good spirits, with this being the last date of a whirlwind five city, five-day Australian tour. Even with the dodgy sound, it was great to hear Ralph Santolla lend his signature leads to the older tracks. Trevor Perez is just one cool (and evil-looking) motherfucker, providing the bottom rumble that goes a long way towards making the songs so crushingly heavy. John Tardy’s tortured snarl sounds as nasty live as it does in recordings, and brother Donald Tardy does just amazing stuff behind the kit, as he got a chance to show off in the encore. And Trevor Perez – good-natured despite having almost everything that could go wrong, go wrong – deserves more credit than he often gets, being the architect of Obituary’s signature buzzsaw riffs.

As is so often the case, I was disappointed with the number of people that turned out, even for a Sunday – but with Amon Amarth playing only two days later it’s possible that some punters elected to go to one show only that week. Still, those that did turn out got to see a legendary band play a head-crushing show and it’s not one they’ll soon forget.