Thy Art Is Murder + Here Comes The Kraken + Martyr Defiled @ The Scholar Bar, O2 Academy, Leicester – 18 February 2013

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Review by Dan Perks

Having strayed away from a lot of death metal stuff recently, I was surprised when I found myself blown away by Aussie ‘hype band’ Thy Art Is Murder’s recent album. Having listened to it over and over the one thing I could think of is, can they do it live? Tonight I got my answer.

Tonight’s full line up consisted of 6 bands, 3 of which being local support acts Awaking Athena, Frozen Affliction and one man death metal band Foul Body Autopsy. Although not lacking in musicality or energy, the support acts do little to ignite the crowd. With exception of two die hard young lasses who from the very first note go absolutely apeshit.

Thy Art Is MurderThe venue is still two thirds empty as Lincolnshire’s Martyr Defiled take to the stage, this serves to purpose as the mosh pits open up and make the most of the space. Martyr Defiled are as intense as staring Hannibal Lecter in the face over dinner. There are no frills, no bullshit just straight up brutal technical death metal. Every track is a fan favourite.

The crowd go berserk the moment Thy Art Is Murder frontman CJ McMahon appears on stage to provide additional vocals on Isolate. It’s not long before members of the band decide to get in on the action and pile into the crowd. Penultimate track ‘Lifeless’ gives a taster of what’s to come with the bands forthcoming album and it sounds more than promising. Martyr Defiled have not just set the bar, they have thrown it far, far out of reach.  I wouldn’t want to be in any band that had to follow this performance.

This task falls to Mexico’s Here Comes The Kraken. Sadly they don’t quite pull it off. Though the dip in atmosphere during their set feels a tad undeserved. The band are blisteringly heavy. Mixing sweeping guitar melodies over furious death metal riffs. They do have a slightly more deathcore feel than other bands on this bill. Some minor technical difficulties are the only real low point in their show. It’s clear that this audience are either unfamiliar with or apathetic towards HCTK. If HCTK had been on first I think they would have received a far more receptive welcome instead of trying to follow the more locally known Martyr Defiled. On any other day and any other line up HCTK would be uber impressive but tonight just isn’t quite their night.

Now comes the moment I can get answers. Are Thy Art Is Murder another over-hyped band or are they the real deal? Their set opens with the pounding riffs of Reign of Darkness. Right from the word go Thy Art Is Murder are as brutal as pressing your face into a belt sander. The crowd are going nuts, those two young lasses still haven’t stopped going mental at the front. Vocalist CJ McMahon glares menacingly into the crowd bearing a strange resemblance to Glen Benton from Deicide. Every song is as crushing as the last, there is no let up. Drummer Lee Stanton is an absolute maniac behind the kit, the pace is frantic and unrelenting.

The set includes most of the Hate album including a few tracks from the band’s earlier releases. The piece de resistance is set closer Whores To A Chainsaw, I don’t think I’ve seen a room full of people lose their shit so severely for a long time. As soon as the lights come up I check I’ve still got both my ears attached and head for the door content in the fact the ‘hype’ is fully justified.