Live Burial, Tyrannus and Rancid Cadaver @The Little Buildings, Newcastle, May 27, 2022

How times change.

Two years ago, the thought of dozens of people getting sweaty, up close and personal with bellowing death metal bands, in an intimate venue (the clue is in the name), would have been inconceivable.

In May 2020 we were worried that independent venues like The Little Buildings would never open their doors again…

And fretting that the underground DM scene would be confined to the occasional Bandcamp splurge and socially distanced live streamed show.

Fast forward two years and we’ve just witnessed London’s Incineration and Netherlands Deathfest celebrate extreme metal in all its glory.

And earlier this month, a bit closer to The Little Buildings, California’s Skeletal Remains tore through Newcastle’s Anarchy Brewery.

But perhaps it’s on nights like this that you really feel the scene is getting back to normal.

Indeed, the searing intensity of a band like Rancid Cadaver, focused into a small room and backed by a monstrous sound, is truly life-affirming.

The Glasgow quartet’s first foray into England climaxed in 30 minutes of carnage, with the band sloshing the filth of Autopsy and Obituary around The Little Buildings, and relishing the chance to attack a capacity crowd with songs from their debut EP, Flesh Monstrosity.

This show was also a first for bassist Ross Dunn, debuting as frontman following the departure of vocalist Lee Lewis. The guy has stage presence to slay for… and spearheaded Rancid Cadaver’s primal surge across the likes of Genetic Enhancement, Bog Rot and the flailing Dragged Beneath.

Throw in some spasming leads and covers of Mortician’s Zombie Apocalypse and Obituary’s Slowly We Rot, and you have a death metal party starter par excellence.

Putrid. Pestilent. Perfect.

The tentacles of Tyrannus reach south

There may have been a wee delay while bass player Alistair Harley “finished in make-up”, but it took just seconds for Tyrannus to stun Newcastle as they followed Rancid Cadaver onto the Little Buildings stage.

The Scots summoned Cthulhu with a Lovecraftian hybrid of black, death and thrash metal, crossing genre boundaries at will and weaving potent psychedelics into their onslaught.

The quartet’s debut album, Unslayable, was only released last month, but the band are getting plenty of attention.

And thanks to taught, immersive performances like this, it’s easy to see why.

Break The Will Of Evil shaped Abbathian riffery to supernatural intelligence, A Worse Reality reached Emperor-level grandeur and The Flood unleashed garish hallucinations, through waves of stunning fretwork.

Tyrannus don’t sound like anyone else out there though.

And while a cover of Priest’s Breaking The Law was perhaps an odd choice, given their progressive leanings, it did show that Callum John Cant and co. are game for a laugh…

Live Burial move up a level

Newcastle’s Live Burial have spent the last couple of years working on their third album, Curse Of The Forlorn.

And stunning new songs Blood and Copper, The Ordeal Of Purification and Despair Of The Lost Self, gave a taste of what’s to come.

But they’ve also been honing their stagecraft.

Fresh from a string of shows with Slaughter Messiah and Havukruunu, Live Burial were imperious.

Maybe it’s been a natural evolution after years of hard work.

Maybe it’s an eagerness to prove themselves at death metal’s top table, with an appearance at UK Deathfest looming this summer.

Whatever it is, the Tyneside quintet have nailed their live formula.

Frontman Jamie Brown prowled in front of the stage, eviscerating his vocal cords with haunting screams.

New recruit Jake Bielby (pictured top) – also of Plague Rider – and fellow guitarist Rob Hindmarsh shifted sublimely from hellspawn riffs to spectral leads.

And the Lee Anderson/Matthew Henderson rhythm section propelled Live Burial’s complex sonic voyages, while deftly keeping them on a steady course.

It was a joy to watch.

Indeed, from savage opener Rotting On The Rope to Cemetery Fog’s ectoplasmic, mist-shrouded sign-off, this was a top tier show from Live Burial.

Their next chapter looks bright.