Morbid Angel @ Club Capitol (Perth, 3 June 09)

This is death metal.

Reasons for the front doors rattling at Perth's Club Capitol were made clear upon entry: technical death metal outfit Nails of Imposition were going hard at it with the bass turned way the fuck up. So high, in fact, that the guitar sound was a little muddy - but this local five piece slayed anyway.  Nails are so technical it made my brain hurt, but they make it look easy - guitarist Chris Henderson smiling to himself like a mad scientist who's discovered a secret, and frontman Matt Goodwin windmilling like a man with no neck. Copies of their self-titled demo CD thrown out into the crowd - I managed to retrieve one that hit me in the head - revealed their relatively short history: this band has only been playing live for around six months, making their set even more impressive. Definitely one to watch.

Next up were local stalwarts Malignant Monster. This is a band that takes their shit seriously, and while I have suggested in the past that they are perhaps a little too serious, they certainly get a good crowd response every time they play, tonight being no exception. For this set I closed my eyes - thereby avoiding frontman Cain's bare-chested first thumping and corpse-painted eye-rolling - and concentrated on the solid thrash-tinged black metal sounds produced by the band as a unit: good stuff.

While the openers cleared away and the stage was set for the main act, punters were tortured by some diabolical techno music - and whoever was controlling the switches was not influenced by yells from the crowd of "turn this shit off" or "play some fucking metal". Maybe the aim was to increase the appreciation levels when Morbid Angel did take to the stage in front of their huge logo banner - if so, it was a completely unnecessary measure. When the lights did dim there was no doubt who the stars of the evening were: drummer Pete Sandoval appeared on stage, followed by Norwegian addition Destructhor on rhythm guitar, returned vocalist and bassist David Vincent, and then finally the legendary guitarist Trey Azagthoth.

Opening with Rapture and following up with Pain Divine for a Covenant double-header, Morbid Angel were out to demonstrate that age has only sharpened their skills. Almost anonymous behind his trademark black hair, Trey Azagthoth let his fingers do the talking, effortlessly pulling off killer solo after killer solo to the delight of the punters that crowded around that side of the stage.

Sworn to the Black, yet another Covenant track, had punters furiously head-nodding, the odd crowd-surfer returned swiftly back to the crowd by bouncers when they got too close to the front. Lord of All Fevers and Plagues and Immortal Rites took us back to 1989's Altars of Madness and a preview of a new song, Nevermore, gave us a taste of what's yet to come.

Dominate signalled the end of the set - but the break was more for a guitar change than anything else, with Pete Sandoval and Destructhor remaining on stage before the expected encore, the epic God of Emptiness, all the more eerie under the Capitol's appalling red light setup.

Morbid Angel lived up to every aspect of their formidable reputation: technically flawless, brutal as all fuck, pure death metal. Horns up.