THULCANDRA- WOLFHEART-OBSCURA- FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE
White Oak Music Hall, Houston, TX
March 10th, 2023
I guess I heard about this tour in early January, and I remembered screenshotting the tour flyer, I saved it in my phone, shared it with my peers as an invitation. I put it in my calendar because March would be the month in which many big bands would visit Houston. This freezing, melodic and theatrical European invasion couldn’t be missed as it was a great opportunity to see four big leaguers on stage the same night. I was planning to celebrate another anniversary of the Cuban crew (ESCAPE, ANCESTOR, AGONIZER and Scriptorium Magazine) that took American Airlines Freedom flight a decade ago.
THULCANDRA has been making its way with four albums releases and a fifth one already titled “Hail the Abyss” on the way. They have progressed the sound, but I still find that iced melodic trademark, an aspect everyone misses since the early DISSECTION era. The German quartet was touring the States for the first time, and I know that many of us were waiting for the main courses like WOLFHEART, OBSCURA or FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, but deep down we were also very excited to check this band out for the first time, and let me tell you this, there was no deception at all. It was a total joy with a show full of tight performances impersonated by Steffen Kummerer on guitars and vocals, Mariano Delastik also guitarist, Carsten Schorn on bass and Alessandro Delastik on drums. As a part of the audience, I can tell that Houstonian metalheads expectations were fulfilled. There was a little bit of everything in the ludus, horns up, beers up, a small circle pit, diehards chanting their songs and a total response to THULCANDRA’s music. The new singles are valid proof that we need to be attentive to the next album that will be out this May.
The stage set up for WOLFHEART was simple but impressive, three mic stands resembling an Elk skull.
It was such a privilege to have the Finnish quartet on this run because they couldn’t make it in last Devastation on the Nation tour. With “Skyforger”, the first song for the 2022 album “King of the North”, started the setlist and since that song winter winds froze the White Oak downstairs stage. The first songs didn’t break the ice, the crowd was supporting but arms crossed listening to the music, some random headbanging, a huge ode of applauses after every song, but Tuomas Saukkonen (guitar and vocal) was not enjoying himself with a standing audience, he needed a mosh pit. He addressed the crowd and stated something like this “… There’s no good show in America without a circle pit…”. After his words of encouragement, hell broke loose in the middle and didn’t stop. The Finnish four-piece put out quite a majestic and somber show, full of dark harmonies, blast beats, cold melodies, and outstanding executions.
It was time for some Progressive Death metal in the lineup. Steffen Kummerer on guitars and vocals was working double that night, first with THULCANDRA and now with OBSCURA. Both bands started in the early 2000’s but for some reason OBSCURA has managed to build more of a fan base over these years. I could tell that the H-town Death metal diehards were expecting this band also, although they were not closing that night, but they were co-headlining. Everyone was really attentive to the starting note. They performed songs from other albums but mostly from “A Valediction”, last release from 2021. The Bavarian four piece lit the fire with progressive interpretations and my best award of the night for live band bassist Alex Weber (EXIST/MALIGNANCY), who did a five-star defense of what Jeroen Paul contributed in “A Valediction”. OBSCURA took it from where CYNIC, DEATH, or PESTILENCE left it and made its own approach to Dearth metal and the American audience can identify pretty well when there’s a band this magnitude on stage. No need to say that the whole show was supported from top to bottom.
I’d dare to say that Italian finest Death metal export was about to come up on stage. FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE has grown so much since the first time I saw them when they were supporting WINTERSUN 10 years ago. It has rained a lot, three more albums, Veronica was added, Francesco recovered from the accident, they covered “Blue (Da Ba Dee)”, haha, and here they are, co-headlining this killer tour with amazing bands. They open with “Fury” and headbangers, first liners, and Capoeira lovers went crazy since the first chord. I have been following them since “Oracles”, but to my ears the masterpiece goes to “Agony”; however, I enjoyed every song they played that night because it’s their music that lifts me up, no matter if it’s “Sugar” or “Monnalisa”. But I will give full credit to “The Violation” and “The Forsaking”, those songs brought us back in time with an immense nostalgia and unleashed our souls with their Symphonic Death metal attack.
What a night! What a tour I’d say! What a metal storm hit our H-town! I think I speak for everybody when I say that all expectations were met. We all released our demos and quenched the bloodthirst; I mean the metal music passion. It was a terrific Friday, a perfect night to start the weekend. I hope you all felt the same. On a personal note, I’d like to thank the bands, the fantastic crowd, the venue, Mona Miluski (All Noir PR) and Natalie Camillo (Napalm Records America) for accrediting Scriptorium Magazine for this review.
Words and photos: Alex Sanchez