It’s been a controversial few weeks for Australian deathcore brutes Thy Art Is Murder following their ugly and very public split with frontman CJ McMahon. Following news that Tyler Miller from fellow Aussie brutalists Aversions Crown had taken over from McMahon, internet chat seemed to hint that not all of their fanbase agreed with the band’s decision to replace McMahon.
Prior to all the drama, this show had already been upgraded from the smaller O2 Ritz venue as the original show sold out. Of course, with a supporting bill featuring Spite, Fit For An Autopsy, and Whitechapel, there were undoubtedly additional elements which helped shift a good few tickets. Further proof of this came by the sight of the much bigger Academy venue already filling out as Californian deathcore unit Spite did their best to level the venue at the ridiculously early time of half past six.
Earlier this Summer, New Jersey sextet Fit For An Autopsy delivered, for me at least, one of the highlight sets of this year’s Bloodstock Open Air and was in similarly crushing form in Manchester. Neck muscles loosened, and from the depths of the dark pit, bodies spat out and over the barrier as the band lurched through the likes of “Savages” with little to no let up throughout their truly uncompromising set.
Now Knoxville metallers Whitechapel are a band who have gone through something of a transformation over the last couple of albums to mixed reactions from their fanbase. Some of those fans have grown with the band and their more melodic direction, while an equal portion still yearn for the days when Phil Bozeman and Co simply melt faces. Here in Manchester, the band leans more towards the heavier end of their personality with “A Bloodsoaked Symphony” and “The Saw Is The Law,” showing that, while they may now be tapping into more melodic areas, Whitechapel still absolutely slay with the best of them.
As the lights dimmed and Thy Art Is Murder made their entrance, the rumoured fan exodus didn’t happen, and bodies were soon flying about the pit as the Aussie death metal machine pummelled through opener “Destroyer of Dreams,” the first track from new album Godlike.
Under moody lighting, all eyes focussed on frontman Tyler Miller, who stalked the front of the stage with an almost psychotic stare on his face. Animated throughout the set, Miller paced up and down, overseeing the carnage unfolding in front of him as the ferocious pit never let up. Matching the energy of the pit, the Aussie band looked fully focused on the job at hand, slamming through a particularly vicious “Death Squad Anthem.”
Now those who have crossed paths with the Aussie deathcore outfit before will know how potent they are in the live arena, and, despite all the controversy surrounding the band in recent weeks, it just looks like business as usual as they slam through their fifteen song set with the tightness and ferocity that we’ve come to expect.
The band careered through the likes of “Godlike,” “The Purest Strain of Hate,” and “Reign of Darkness,” barely missing a beat with Miller now an integral part of this well-oiled machine and, as battered and bruised bodies file out into the cold Manchester night, it almost feels like, while not making light of that situation, the last few weeks controversy has become nothing more than a quickly fading memory.