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Carcass, Napalm Death And More Cause Chaos In Bristol With The Deathcrusher Tour

Photo of Obituary

Band Photo: Obituary (?)

Every once in a while, a tour comes along with a lineup that's more or less impossible to ignore. This year, Europe is being treated to a veritable wet dream of extremity, as two of death metal's most revered bands, Carcass and Obituary, are teaming up with grindcore godfathers Napalm Death and Canadian progressive thrashers, Voivod, as well as Swiss act, Herod, to give headbangers the Deathcrusher tour. As if to get the grey island out of the way first, the trek began this past week in the United Kingdom and this reporter was lucky enough to witness the event in Bristol, at a venue called The Motion.

Opening the show was Herod, a progressive sludge metal band from Vevey in Switzerland, who released their debut album, "They Were None" last year. Although they didn't feel out of place as such on this bill, opening such an exciting lineup with sludge didn't seem like a particularly good idea and as a result, Herod came across as a boring start that created the sentiment opening bands dread; the old, "Let's just get this over with so we can watch what we came for," vibe. They received a relatively warm response from the crowd however, who it must be said of Bristol audiences, are usually supportive of unknown or new bands. Whatever the case, with a dull stage presence and uninteresting repertoire, Herod will need to wait until their next album before they seriously impress any passing punters.

Up next was the band that on paper did seem like a strange addition to the bill, Voivod. The Quebec natives brand of intelligent thrash metal appeared to be the odd one out on a tour dominated by death, but as one might expect, they proved any doubters totally wrong. Not there seemed to be any in attendance, because Voivod received a hero's welcome from the crowd, who chanted their name throughout the entire set. What was interesting is that for all the inventive riffs and Pink Floyd covers, the band have a very punk rock vibe to them, carrying no pretense and delivering nothing but blistering metal music. Being that there were three more bands to come, their set was unsurprisingly, quite short, opening with "Ripping Headaches" from the album with one of the best titles ever, "RRROOOAAARRR," and from then on, they had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands. In a performance of only seven songs, Voivod were able to blend new and old material, including a brand new song, "Forever Mountain," which has just been released as a split vinyl with Napalm Death and sounds just as good as their old output. Classics like "Chaos Mongers" and "Tribal Convictions" were are also aired before the band ended their set with their eponymous sing along. On this night, Voivod proved why to those who know them, they are one of the most respected bands in metal.

Let's be clear about one thing: There is no such thing as a bad Napalm Death show. It just doesn't happen. The band often credited with spawning the grindcore genre but possess so much more intelligence and creativity beyond that tag, always know how to make the most of their time and constantly deliver brutality of the highest order. So it will come as no spoiler when I tell you that Napalm Death were fantastic on this night, once more. With touring guitarist Erik Burke filling in for the absent Mitch Harris, the Birmingham band drummed up atmosphere with the title track from their latest effort, "Apex Predator - Easy Meat," before launching into what now must be regarded as a classic Napalm Death song, "Silence Is Deafening," from the "Code Is Red..." album, followed by another that will no doubt be treated the same in a few years, "On The Brink of Extinction."

New songs such as "Smash A Single Digit" and "How The Years Condemn," went down a treat, as did their slew of short songs, from "Life?" to the legendary "You Suffer," with "The Kill" and "Deceiver" thrown in. The obligatory cover of "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" was brought out too, as was plenty of expected but welcome social commentary regarding everything from third world poverty to criticism of the Conservative tyranny in the United Kingdom, before the set was closed with "Siege of Power." Another incredible set from one of the most important bands in the last thirty years of British music.

Following on from Napalm Death is always going to be hard and so, and it takes a band with a lot of credibility to pull it off; Enter Obituary. The Americans focused a little more on stage presence than other bands on the night, using the lighting to their advantage to create the appearance of five shadowy figures, exuding the soundtrack to murder. It was a little surprising how often vocalist John Tardy would leave the stage, presumably to rest his voice, which is excusable given his unique but no doubt challenging vocal style, however it led to more instrumental passages than one may have liked. Nevertheless, fans were treated to a solid performance, complete with favourites such as "Don't Care" and "Slowly We Rot," as well as songs from their latest album, "Inked In Blood," such as "Bloodsoaked" and the title track. Their brand of groovy and at times, quite slow death metal certainly isn't for everyone and there will be some neutrals or casual fans who find their set becoming a little bit of a slog after a while, but Obituary do command great respect and will always get the crowd moving.

And so, the evening drew to a close with another of Britain's most revered metal bands, Carcass. It's interesting that while many bands split up then reunite x amount of years later, it's almost certain that fans start taking them for granted again, but that's not the case with Carcass. The band reformed in 2007 and released their first album in seventeen years, "Surgical Steel" in 2013, but the excitement of being able to see the group again is still there in full force. Opening with the "1985" intro from said album, they launched into the "Heartwork" opener, "Buried Dreams" straight after. Plenty of songs from their latest offering were performed too, such as "Captive Bolt Pistol," "The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills" and "Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System," all of which were received very well, as was the in between song banter from frontman Jeff Walker, delivered perfectly with his North Western wit and sarcasm.

Of course, fans were also treated to music from their much adored back catalogue, including the title track from their debut, "Reek of Putrefaction" and the excellent "Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious" songs, "Incarnated Solvent Abuse" and "Corporeal Jigsore Quandary," all before an expression of gratitude from Walker to the crowd for supporting "real metal" and the climactic performance of "Heartwork." A brilliant end to a fantastic set from an incredible on an unforgettable tour.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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