Scordatura/Aphotic/Plague Rider @ Newcastle Trillians, March 10 2019

Venom Prison might be grabbing all of the headlines at the moment – and justifiably. But scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find plenty more death metal acts bubbling away in the UK underground, ready to burst their way up to the next level.

Check out a tour package like this and you’ll see what we mean.

Mixing two of Glasgow’s DM upstarts, Aphotic and Scordatura, with North East quartet Plague Rider, it was a showcase of brutality and complexity, aggression and imagination, where the obvious warmth between bands kept the night’s freezing air at bay.  

Newcastle’s Plague Rider are certainly heating up in 2019. After releasing their second album, Rhizome, last year, they’ve been sharpening up their live shows to create an über-tight, hydra-headed monster of a band: one more than capable of dominating Trillians.

Plague Rider are certainly a challenge, their contorted take on DM infinitely more progressive than that of many acts who plough the tech death furrow. But they’re all the better for it. And live, they can pull their multi-textured sonics off perfectly – largely thanks to the rhythm section of Lee Anderson and Matthew Henderson, who propel cerebral epics such as Challenger’s Lecture and Stagnation Cult into brave new dimensions. Watching them in action, alongside vocalist James Watts and guitarist Jake Bielby, is an enthralling experience.

Aphotic, following Plague Rider’s spasms and convulsions, were an intriguing contrast. The four-piece kicked their audience straight in the guts with the likes of Foundations Of Iniquity, then bludgeoned us with the relentless barrages of Solitary Rot and Eternal Lucid Nightmare, both taken from new EP Immurement.  

And while Liam McCall – prowling the stage like a Glaswegian ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher – might have liked a little more action from the crowd, he didn’t let any frustration put him off his stride.

The guy knows how to deliver.

As do Scordatura. The most established act on the bill earned their headline slot with a slick, eviscerating set of vicious death metal, spearheaded by Engineering Retribution’s blastbeat maelstrom and the double kick annihilation of Self Created Abyss, and fuelled by whirlwind frontman Daryl Boyce. Like McCall, he’s a livewire, mixing fun with ferocity.

Trillians was also a testing ground for new single World Devoured: the pick of the grisly bunch, it’s a taught DM rampage which shows that Scordatura are continuing to evolve…and are still intent on upping their game with each release.

A sparse Sunday night crowd it may have been, but that failed to dint the passion or performance of any band on this bill.  Indeed, watching McCall and Boyce unleash two dual vocal assaults during the night, trading death growls and feeding of each other’s energy, just added to the sense of camaraderie.

If you needed a reminder of the dedication, talent – and sheer quality – that can be found in the UK’s underground death metal scene, then this was surely it.