Vomitor, Blasphemer and Devastator @ Newcastle The Head Of Steam, April 27 2019

Considering Vomitor released the Bleeding Newcastle live album following their last trip to Tyneside, something would have been amiss of the Brisbane berserkers had swerved North East England during their 20th anniversary tour.  

And while the Aussie death thrashers may be sporting a few more grey hairs than their last visit here six years ago, the quartet’s chaotic, unrelenting barrage proved as ferocious and vibrant as ever at the Head Of Steam. It had to be.

For earlier in the night, youthful energy had zipped through the basement venue courtesy of openers Devastator, a Derby outfit with just one demo to their name.

A firestorm of early Bathory and embryonic, hyperspeed deutsche thrash, the four-piece didn’t let a quieter mix blunt their onslaught: daubed in hues of blood, goat’s skull taking centre stage, they whipped through the likes of Serenity In Suffering and newie Worship The Goat, while paying tribute to Venom’s birthplace with a double kick driven blast through Countess Bathory: a nice touch, from a band on the rise.

Blasphemer, meanwhile have their origins way back in 1990, and lit up the death metal underground with a string of demos before calling it a day in ’95. Re-activated around a core of founders Mass Firth and Arno Cagna, they’ve slowly been reclaiming lost territory, thanks to 2015’s Blasphemer debut album and 2018’s formidable Lust Of The Goat, and slick live performances such as this one.

With muscular, old school DM laced with wild, Hanneman/King style soloing from Cagna, Blasphemer could have been headlining this bill (or perhaps the nearby O2 Academy) in an alternative universe. Certainly, songs such as Sutcliffe – with its explosive tempo shifts – and the raging Immortality could go head to head with anything the British scene has to offer.

With the volume upped and Thine’s Daniel Mullins masterminding the percussive assault, Blasphemer branded their pentagram into a host of fresh souls, and took a few in the crowd back to the days of tape trading, Thrash ‘N’ Burn magazine and C90 cassettes. Not bad for a night’s work.

When it comes to pure, unbridled intensity, however, Vomitor can outclass most bands. And while the Aussies don’t match the stage presence of labelmates Midnight, who tore up The Head Of Steam less than two weeks ago, the sight of them blitzing through Neutron Hammer, Midnight Madness and Roar Of War, all fire, fury and cut-off jackets, left a lasting dent.

Rob Curry’s reverb-laden rasp isn’t pretty, but it isn’t meant to be – his vocals are just another way of doing damage, another infernal instrument to accompany the serrated, Slayerised riffery of Tremolation, another layer of grease and grime.

Banter? Who needs it when you have to get through two decades of sonic carnage in an hour. Vomitor’s records sound like controlled chaos: live, the band plunge their followers deep into the maelstrom and make sure they emerge battered, bloodied and emboldened.

Enjoy your anniversary, fellas.