The opening chugs in ‘Brujerizmo’ is guaranteed to get the crowd going; add some nice riffs and speedy drum rolls from Cradle of Filth drummer Nicholas Barker and you’re in for a night of heavy music indeed. Resemblances can be made with Cannibal Corpse with the lyrical content; the thrashy nature resembling Anthrax; with some epic Doom Metal-esque riffs. Bassist Shane Embury was on fine form tonight and it’s easy to see why he’s so popular, performing in all 4 bands on show tonight.
Songs I enjoyed seeing live were ‘El Desmadre’; which translates to ‘Total Chaos’; purely for it’s speed, piercing djenting and a shredded solo. This band is not in short supply of talent; the technical nature is quite brilliant. ‘El Patron’ a song about Pablo Escobar saw some slow; sinister riffs reminiscient of Sludge Metal and the trademark fuzzy bass that associates with Grindcore.
The band ended their set with the lead singer covering the Macarena which got everyone dancing and singing along.
Napalm Death took to the stage with the room rocking with energy. Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway got the crowd going with his energetic movements inbetween singing during their opener ‘Evolved as One’.
Napalm Death are considered the pioneers of Grindcore genre; encorporating elements such as blast beats, down-tuned guitars and a distorted ‘fuzzy’ bass. The setlist for tonight; a staggering 22 songs in length due to the short nature of many of their songs; saw 5 from Apex Predator (2015), 4 from their debut Scum (1987), 3 from their second album Enslavement to Obliteration, 2 from Harmony Corruption (1990) and two from Smear Campaign (2006).
Barney stated his intention early on to ‘go as far back as we can’ before playing ‘Scum’; quickly followed by ‘The Kill’, both released in 1987. Their early sound is raw and heavy, with a distinct buzzing or ‘grinding’ sound lingering in the background from bass distortion; hence the term ‘Grindcore’. The addition of slow riffs and nice pickups add a classic rock’n’roll feel to the songs but when the insanely fast drumming kicks in accompanied with speedy high pitched finger-picking and Barney’s death metal vocals it’s quite clear this is something different entirely.
Comparing their later ‘Smash a Single Digit’ (2015) with’ Scum’ (1987) you find that Napalm Death have continued their style consistently for years with very little changes; although perhaps the vocals can be described as more coherent on newer albums, with ‘Smash a Single Digit’ reminding me of Phil Bozeman’s vocals in Whitechapel.
They went on to play two more from ‘Scum’ (1987) which pleased oldschool fans and the moshpit saw some decent action. The band moved swiftly onto their second album released in 1988 with the title track ‘Enslavement to Obliteration’ (1988) which reminded me of early Cannibal Corpse; fast guitars and grunted vocals, the drums adding a classic vibe yet again but Shane Embery’s distorted bass stealing the punch, buzzing around like a demented wasp.
A swift jump in time to The Code is Red…Long Live the Code (2005) and their style takes on a more deathcore feel once more with Barney showing off his high shrieks and low growls. ‘Twist the Knife’ (1994) was a mediation between old and new styles in my opinion, the down-tuned guitars giving every chord a slow, sludgy feel which is great for this band and gives them a Doom-esque undertone.
Towards the end of their set, they played a cover song of ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ by the Dead Kennedy’s which paid homage to their punkier roots. They ended their long, verocious and epic setlist with two songs from ‘Smear Campaign’ (2006) with ‘Persona Non Grata’ being the song which sums up their style; aggressive, chaotic and captivating.
Napalm Death’s early work in the 80’s caught the attention of the death metal scene on a worldwide level. Their raw hardcore punk inspired sound, energy and ferocious technical ability inspired from death metal blend brought a whole new genre to the table. They impressed me.
Welcome to the Grind.
Review and Photographs: Neale Hayes