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May 5th, 2012 at AJZ Bahndamm/Wermelskirche, GER

Coffins made themselves pretty rare for fans outside Japan. Although they started in 1996 and got a huge fanbase, especially in Europe, they started their first European tour in 2011 when they played some highly anticipated shows, topped with their appearance at the Roadburn in Tilburg. Only one year later they are back again with a new EP ('March of Despair') on Hammerheart and this time they were visiting the AJZ Bahndamm, which, despite its small size, is famous for a lot of class acts from the Death and Thrash Metal scene since the nineties.

Due to its special audience, the openers Faal from the Netherlands had to prove themselves worthy with their mainly Funeral Doom inspiried Metal. Vocalist Wiliam broke the ice with his first words and admitted: "Yes, we have a keyboard – and we make Epic Metal". The following 40 minutes of slow doomy parts were often mixed with heavy double bass attacks and a very varied singing style. Faal managed to bring on a kind of Funeral Doom that wasn´t monotonous at all and was able to get more than just polite applause from the audience. 

After that, the Brazilians of Escarnium entered the stage and soon the mainly Death/Thrash Metal regulars got near the stage and enjoyed the "Dark Blasphemic Death Metal" of the South-Americans. Escarnium played a tight show with mostly up-tempo and blast beat Death Metal and with a little variation, because bassist Vitor also adds some vocals which differ from the growls of their lead vocalist. But still, it's not my cup of beer. The guys got some technical skills and the crowd was pretty excited, but I was bored after the third song. Same goes for the following Depression from Germany. The original three-piece is around since 1989 and plays Death/Grind Metal with a lot of groovy passages. They also managed to get the crowd happy and the room full, but compared to Escarnium they lacked the variability and shredded, although technically clean and ambitious, me into the beer garden for some time. But I won't consider one of these bands bad, I guess I'm just not that much into Death Metal and blast beats than I was in my youth like 15 years ago. At least the traditional AJZ crowd had a good time.

Far beyond midnight, the main act got on the stage. Coffins made some changes lately, as some might have noticed, the growls are a little less guttural than before. This is due to a line-up change. Former drummer Ryo went up-front and is doing the vocals now and Satoshi is the new drummer in the live line-up, as Ryo still recorded the drums for the new EP by himself. Even though some people feared the vocals wouldn't be as deep and guttural as they loved them before these changes, they are not bad at all! Their stage presence has definitely improved, Ryo is doing a good job drinking whisky from the bottle and presenting Coffins worthy deep vocals, while Uchino concentrates on his guitar and is able to do a bit more stage acting. The Japanese started quick and played a lot of their mid-tempo material which was a good idea referring to the mainly Death Metal audience, but they also showed why they are tagged as Death-Doom. The sound applies pressure and they even managed to get a few moshpits running. In spite of them playing too less of their really slow and doomy songs for my personal taste, they played a very good show and left a lot of people smiling in front of the stage. The encore topped a 75min show with Eyehategod's 'Sister Fucker' and marked another highlight in the eventful history of the AJZ Bahndamm.

(Thomas Braun)