Exhumed & Anaal Nathrakh
@ The Garage
March 23rd 2012
Review by Joffie Lovett
Photography by Graham Hilling
Approaching the venue in London coming out of Highbury & Islington tube station, the first inkling I have is one of a bit of worry that this concert may not happen at all, as when leaving the station the crowd is confronted by multiple fire fighting vehicles and crew all outside with blue lights on and everyone looking slightly confused. Luckily when getting further towards them it seems as though whatever major incident had occurred has been dealt with and the fire fighters are just standing around and chatting in front of the venue, a weird experience for the start of a show but one of those things I guess.
Standing in the queue, I can’t help but notice the large amount of younger people in their late teens attending the show which I found surprising compared to the more-older fans you often find at extreme metal shows throughout London. They all seem extremely excited, enthusiastic and chomping at the bit to see both bands live so it’s great to see the more extreme forms of metal reaching younger fans. Oddly enough a few members of the crowd are waiting in line reading books whilst waiting to enter the venue as well, I couldn’t see what books they were reading but hopefully material from Friedrich Nietzsche (given his influence on Anaal Nathrakh’s material) or such like rather than The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Spot The Dog…
Once inside the venue both myself and my friend who I’m with have the weird occurrence of neither of us being checked for tickets, we also didn’t realise at first that the concert was taking place at a smaller venue above the original Highbury Garage as the venue above is slightly smaller but makes for a much more intimate show and the right choice for this genre of music I feel.
I then notice I’m immediately standing right in front of Matt Harvey from Exhumed, who despite his fast, extreme music and maniacal vocals is one of the most laid back and nicest blokes from an extreme metal band that I’ve ever met.
I firstly let him know that neither myself nor many of the other people around me in the queue were checked for tickets, to which he replied with “Well you know we like to run a really tight ship with Exhumed” and a sarcastic shrug and a wink, the sign of a musician who is really at one with the fans, and secondly as I felt a bit embarrassed whilst putting my ear plugs in (15 years of attending loud concerts and playing in multiple bands means I either wear ear plugs at gigs or have days of joyous tinnitus) to say to Matt that I had them but he chuckled and said “yeah man, you’re definitely going to need those tonight!”.
All of the guys from Exhumed are chatting to various members of the crowd at the merchandise booth before Anaal Nathrakh take to the stage and have time for everyone which I found really nice and refreshing for a metal show, and the element of a couple of members of Exhumed looking slightly like the dwarves from Lord Of The Rings with their well grown metal beards is also quite chucklesome.
Anaal Nathrakh take to the stage to begin with and confusingly when they come onto the stage I mention to the friend that I’m with that there is no Mick Kenney on stage and no one can see where Dave Hunt is either.
I even get to the point of saying to my friend that “I don’t think that this is Anaal Nathrakh, maybe they have a local support band…?
Unless Mick Kenney has changed his appearance quite drastically recently?”.
Embarrassingly for me it is in fact Anaal Nathrakh as Dave Hunt comes out from back stage and starts his usual pacing like an aggressive caged animal during the intro track to their set, it’s surprisingly brilliant just how much a frontman can really transfer his raw energy and aggression into the crowd with simple acts such as this pacing and it really seems to work as a chaotic moshpit breaks out immediately into the first song and Dave Hunt’s vocals sound as heavy and brutal as ever.
Strangely though there is still no Mick Kenney on stage although there are 2 guitarists and a replacement playing Mick Kenney’s guitar parts.
Soon after the first 2 or 3 songs, Dave Hunt invites as many members of the crowd as pretty much is physically possible to join the band on stage and dive into the crowd for the start of Submission Is for the Weak. So much so in fact, that there isn’t really that many left in the crowd to catch them!
On this occasion I chose to stay in the crowd and enjoy the show without mingling next to some of the crowd members who strangely look to be bathed in sweat (and quite possibly piss) already into the set and are extremely drunk.
The band then rips into Submission Is For The Weak and the crowd then erupts again into an insane mosh pit and stage diving whilst Dave Hunt hangs from the PA system screaming his lungs out.
Towards the middle of Anaal Nathakh’s set Dave Hunt has a rare pause in the set to explain “normally when you guys come to see us there’s a ginger fucker standing on that side of the stage, well as our regular ginger fucker isn’t here tonight we have his one here for you!” and plucks a lucky young kid from the crowd to stand with them on stage, the kid looks very proud to be there.
Dave then goes into the explanation that unfortunately due to problems with getting Mick Kenney’s (founding member and main songwriter of Anaal Nathrakh) working Visa processed to allow him to tour, he was not able to play the show (or in fact the entire tour from the sounds of it), but rather than cancel the whole thing entirely the band decided to bring in replacement guitarist for the tour in order for them to still play the shows.
A very bold and brave decision in my opinion and really the live show and enjoyment of their live music is not hampered by this in any real recognisable way (apart from not having a “ginger fucker” to stare at on stage of course).
The backing band in fact are all extremely good musicians who all seem to be well versed and practised in the material as well as being able to play some pretty awesome shredding guitar solos too! The drummer was also able to keep up the high intensity speed of the blasts throughout every song and did an excellent job of creating a sound of organised chaos through it all.
At the end of the set Dave Hunt had another rare pause in the set to mention (and he has assured me personally that if I write up this next segment of his words in the wrong way that he will personally track me down and cause me a great amount of physical pain, so Mr Hunt as a massive personal fan of Anaal Nathrakh and Benediction and all of the members and music that both bands have created, I shall endeavour to do my best and be respectful to the memory of your friend, and I hope this shall suffice) that the last time that Dave Hunt was playing a gig at this particular venue there was a young member of the audience watching at the side named Johnny Morrow from Murder One and Iron Monkey acclaim.
Soon after this show Johnny Morrow tragically died in his 20’s of a heart and kidney condition that he had kept relatively to himself up until his tragic and untimely death.
The moment of reflection from Mr Hunt is a real and touching example of how behind the toughened, aggressive and extreme exterior/image that a lot of Metal bands portray, there is a deep rooted almost family like connection between many bands and fans of the genre that goes beyond anything that an outsider to the music can really understand.
I have seen in the past with Benediction how Dave Hunt can be (as well as an awesomely aggressive and scarily energetic frontman) a very laid back, intelligent and empathetic individual, especially so when he dedicated their set with Benediction (when supporting Bolt Thrower on their last tour in London at the ULU with Rotting Christ) to a lady in the crowd who had told him she had lost one of her friends the day before, and another example tonight of his on-going determined and respectful dedication to the genre and it’s fans.
For this brilliant show that was performed minus an important member of the band and still managing to get pretty much every member of the audience going fucking apeshit, Mr Dave Hunt and the rest of Anaal Nathrakh, I salute you!
Anaal Nathrakh Setlist (that I can remember and in no particular order):
Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes
Between Shit and Piss We Are Born
Submission Is For the Weak
The Codex Necro
Do Not Speak
From the first moment that Exhumed take the stage you can tell that Matt Harvey and company are all really happy to be there.
Strangely for a Grindcore band many of the members are actually on stage smiling at the audience, which is a sure fire guarantee of a brilliant show to come if there ever was one!
Exhumed start off with material from their latest album All Guts No Glory which unfortunately I’m yet to pick up a copy of. The material sounds brilliant though and the whole band is locked in tight with the drummer which makes for an awesome and pounding machine gun assault on the ears.
If I could describe Exhumed’s music and sound to a newcomer in a few words I guess it would have to be like being repeated punched in the temples and then having your head stamped on over and over again whilst Matt Harvey screams into your eyes… …pure bliss! (The same can be said about Anaal Nathrakh except they are slightly more like having a breeze block dropped onto your face from a great height… …you can see I’ve listened to too much grindcore lately can’t you…?)
As the bands plays on more and more members of the audience start to dive off the stage and the place turns into a brilliant chaos of extreme metal mayhem. Many other bands I’ve seen in the past would flip out somewhat if members of the audience get on stage but Exhumed being the great guys they are still smile away and blast through their songs whilst the crowd dive around them. Matt Harvey’s vocals sound just as good live if not better than on the CD’s as well as he screams in an almost punk infused fashion through songs like Decrepit Crescendo and Necromaniac.
The crowd really takes off (some literally) with the moshing during Slaughtercult and Wes Caley’s guttural backing vocals to give a lower range opposed to Matt Harvey’s high end screams both sound truly awesome, even on Exhumed’s shorter songs like Torso.
How Matt Harvey has any voice left at all by the end of each show is a miracle!
Towards the end of their set Matt Harvey announces with a big grin on his face a song from the new album which in my opinion is one of the greatest titles of all time… …”So Let It Be Rotten… …So Let It Be Done”.
I can’t help but have a little snigger to myself at this point and my friend with me and those around us are too.
Before the start of The Matter of Splatter they also explain that tomorrow morning they are boarding a plane back to Los Angeles and that they want to see the best crowd possible tonight before heading back to the states, and the crowd is all too ready to oblige!
Matt also mentions “we have a few boxes of Exhumed T-Shirts left on the merchandise stand and we really don’t want to have to bring them back to the US with us as I’m really sick and tired of peddling that crap” and with a smile he goes on to say “I don’t really give a fuck if Relapse lose out on a couple of bucks”.
After a short break the band comes back on to do a couple of songs for the encore including a cover of Drop Dead by The Siege. It’s clear to hear in the original of this song how they have been an influence on Exhumed and the crowd like the song too. The band then goes into an absolute hyper blast of noise for the final song Open the Abscess and it’s clear that all of them are loving every second that they get to play in London.
If there is one thing I can say about Exhumed after witnessing them live, it’s that I was really surprised at how genuinely nice, laid back and talkative all of the members are.
For a band that writes some of the most extreme music and lyrics imaginable they all come across as people who would welcome you as a friend (as they did with me when I got to the venue) and offer you a drink as if you’d known them forever.
There is no sense of “I was playing this music since before you were.. etc” or “We are more metal than you” that you get from some bands and instead they treat everyone there that night as being on the complete same level.
I think it’s fair to say at the end of the show and the end of this review that “Carlsberg don’t do Extreme Metal bands… …but if they DID, they’d probably act and sound a lot let Exhumed…”
Thanks for an awesome show guys!
All Guts No Glory
As Hammer To Anvil
Limb from Limb
I Rot Within
Distorted and Twisted Form
So Let It Be Rotten… …So Let It Be Done
The Matter of Splatter
Drop Dead (The Siege Cover)
Open the Abscess