Suffer The Children

I’m so glad I got one of the last 20 tickets for Napalm Death in Manchester last night. Even though I didn’t stop to see Barney and the boys, or Brujeria, the two bands I saw made it more than worthwhile. 

I bailed early so I could get a train to and from the city from my town to save on more short drives and extortionate parking fees. In hindsight though I’m glad I left when I did for a couple of reasons. 

The main reason is the venue. I’ve only seen four shows there and they’ve all been since October last year. Considering I try and get to Manchester on train as much as I can the Rebellion Club is that little bit too far out to walk back to the station without missing a healthy chunk of the headliners set. 

The three shows prior to last night have been nowhere near to its noted 400 capacity so they were relatively comfortable. Last nights sold out show was beyond comfortable. The assembled throng of metallers were packed in tight for the first two bands. I’d hate to think what it was like come 10pm when Napalm Death had a full head of steam. 

The layout of the place doesn’t help either. The interior is shaped like an offset T with the stage along the horizontal. Looking towards the stage from the vertical your view is obstructed the further you go back so everyone crams in to the front portion. That area also incorporates the entrance and access to the smoking area on one side and the bar and toilets opposite. All the footfall has to traverse that space. It’s definitely not pleasant and almost claustrophobic. 

The local promoter used to use Sound Control, a better laid out venue and half the distance from the station. For some reason shows of this stature have relocated to here. More consideration will have to be given in the future to which shows I attend if there is another option to Rebellion.

Anyway, rant over, on to the show. Lock Up were superb again, and much better than I was honestly expecting. 

Power Trip graced a Manchester stage for the first time in four years and they were on another level last night. They relished their time on the compact stage and seemed much more at home. They had a superb crowd in front of them and there was no barrier so we had a few stage divers, but less than I’d anticipated. For a band influenced by the thrash scene it was weird to see so many metal elitists and purists vacating the room for forty minutes. Too many people paying attention to musical tags. 

As I didn’t get around to posting about the Birmingham grindcore pioneers here’s Suffer the Children from their third album Harmony Corruption. It was the first time they’d recorded outside of England when they entered the famous Morrisound Studios in Tampa with producer Scott Burns. The album vered towards a death metal sound and had a more polished finish, and the Tampa connection was a foothold for the band over in the States.  

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The Campaign for Musical Destruction Tour 2017 @ Birmingham Institute – 9.5.17

Due to the potentially stellar line up of this package we were on a train down to the Second City earlier than we’d usually be just to ensure we’d be inside in plenty of time to see Lock Up. 

With nearly an hour to kill it was a quick dive into the pub next door waiting for the doors to opens then about two dozen steps to the box office. Fifteen minutes before kick off should’ve sufficed due to the close proximity, even giving a bit of leeway for the small queue we encountered of maybe ten people. We managed to get in about five minutes into Lock Up’s set. Such a painfully slow shuffle into the venue by seemingly incompetent staff. How can it take so long to distribute pre ordered tickets or snatch £24 out of someone’s hand? 

We got the bulk of the Lock Up’s grinding racket and a very good twenty minutes it was. With only a quartet of albums to pick from the seven song blast encompassed something from them all. A brace of tracks from the latest opus and three from Hate Breeds Suffering, before Kevin Sharp removed his trademark cowboy hat for set closer After Life In Purgatory. 

Originally Iron Reagan were on the bill for the tour, but had to pull out early on. When their replacements Power Trip were announced I for one wasn’t disappointed, but I know many who were. 

The quick change around afforded me enough time to check out the merch and return in good time before the Texan thrashers destroyed the Institute. The decent sized crowd for Lock Up looked a bit static from my vantage point, but as soon as Soul Sacrifice kicked in the bodies were flailing. Their thirty five minutes were up in the blink of a eye, but for a thrash band that seem to have been embraced more by the hardcore community they definitely made some new friends tonight. 

Multiple band bills on a school night can be often frowned upon, but if the brief set changes like tonight work like a well oiled machine then that’s not a problem. It also helped that three of the bands used the majority of the same drum kit. 

I was intrigued to finally see “Mexican” deathgrind band Brujeria and they kept my attention for the first twenty minutes or so then their masked Mexican gangster gimmick started to wear a bit thin. The musicians in the band all looked remarkably similar to the three musicians from Lock Up – even both drummers were wearing the same Jeff Hanneman shirt! 

The dual frontmen – the only Mexicans in the band – came on stage clad in plaid and looked like the wrestling stable LAX. The biggest pop during their set was reserved for ¡Viva Presidente Trump! A huge machete made its way onto the stage for the final number and whilst the stage was being dismantled we were treated to an a-cappella version of Marijuana which sounds remarkably like the Macarena. 

From Great Barr, Walsall and Sparkhill local heroes Napalm Death took to the stage to rapturous applause, and there’s the Lock Up bass player who looked remarkably similar to the Brujeria bassist for the third time tonight. 

Tonight was the second time this year I’ve seen the band and the set lists were pretty similar and spanning the majority of the franchise’s career. All the way back to Scum and Enslavement to Obliteration, via Harmony Corruption and Utopia Banished through to Apex Predator. I can’t tell if frontman Barney is just uncomfortable on stage or if it’s just how he is, but it’s always brings a smile to my face when you see him bounding around the stage with his limbs flailing like a child that has had too many E numbers during the day. He has a very unique style. 

Along with the obligatory Dead Kennedys cover we also had short blasts originally from Offenders and Hirax. Apparently the set had to be cut short due to time restraints, if that’s the case I don’t know why it didn’t start a bit earlier. 

Overall a great night of noise, but for me Power Trip stole the show, closely followed by Lock Up. Napalm Death did what Napalm Death have been doing for more than thirty years. And as much as I wanted to enjoy Brujeria, for me, their gimmick over stayed it’s welcome with a forty minute set. 
 

Breed To Breathe

Let’s take a look at another one of the Deathcrusher bands.

Stalwarts of the UK “extreme metal” scene this bunch of grindcore merry men – with their distorted, down tuned guitars, buzz saw like bass, frenetic blast beats all topped off with usually incomprehensible growls and shrieks – have been pummelling stages from their humble beginnings at the Mermaid in Birmingham to festival stages in front of thousands of fans.

Signed to the cult Earache label and championed on national UK radio by John Peel, the band have gone from strength to strength and from what many considered a joke band to a much loved institute. Their 1989 7″ single “You Suffer” is in the Guinness Book of Records as being the the shortest song in the World at a staggering 1.316 seconds short!

I was introduced to the band by another school friend who loaned me some heavier stuff than what I was listening to – Kreator, Slayer, Doom, Civilised Society? And Doctor & the Crippens amongst others and Napalm Death’s debut Scum.

Most people’s first introduction to them was probably through a heavy metal special for Arena (an arts programme on BBC 2) in 1989.

Check out Breed To Breathe – the opening track from 1997’s Inside The Torn Apart.

You Suffer – don’t blink!!

“The Live Arena”

In my mind there’s not many things better than going to see bands perform in the live arena.

Whether it’s your favourite band ever at a festival with 90,000 other like minded people who are playing the song that means the most to you. Or waking into a local spit and sawdust pub as doors have just opened and watching the opening band who one day might be the next big thing.

Live music can run you through the gauntlet of all the emotions – quite often at the same show. But on the flip side it can disappoint just as easily. You finally score tickets to see a band you’ve liked for ever and they put in a sub-standard performance.

Over the course of the next week I’ll be at the two shows below – maybe more. Who knows? I might chuck a review or a few photos on here. We’ll have to wait and see what happens. One thing for sure though is a few videos will be posted here on the lead up to the shows.

Friday – Manchester Ritz.

One of the first “festival” style tours for “extreme metal fans” to hit the UK for a long time. Four death and thrash metal legends on the same stage in one night.

Saturday – Camden Underworld.

The album launch gig for Northern Irish thrashers Gama Bomb, ably supported by relatively recently reunited 80’s thrashers Re-Animator.