Limelight 1, Belfast
October 25th 2015
Review by Melanie Brehaut
Photos by Jamie Hunter at JR Hunter Photography
With its highly descriptive title and such legendary bands as Napalm Death and Carcass on the bill it was a fair bet that the Deathcrusher 2015 tour wasn’t exactly going to be a calm, restrained evening, even if it hit Belfast’s Limelight 1 on a Sunday night – a notoriously tough time for gigs as so many rabid metalheads turn into (semi) respectable working folk come Monday morning.
With doors opening at 6pm, the cavernous room was still filling up by the time the first band hit the stage, but Switzerland’s Herod still receive a hearty welcome at 6.30pm. Their progressive and sludgy as fuck lo-fi tunes are quite scattered and schizophrenic in nature, with turn-on-a-dime time changes and long, rather meandering sections, and although the fastest they get is comfortably mid-paced, they are still bowel-looseningly heavy.
Vocalist David Glassey is a commanding, thickly-accented figure who puts his whole body into his performance, singing, headbanging and generally flinging himself around the stage; by the time they finish their short set he is sheened in sweat. That’s the crowd warmed up, then!
Thrash metal nutters Voivod are next, skidding onstage and bellowing “Belfast! Are you ready?!” before launching headlong into their unique thrash/death/punk mixed tunes. The crowd has swelled to almost fill the big room as they pound everyone into submission with palpable (and slightly deranged) glee, particularly from frontman Denis ‘Snake’ Belanger, who sings like a fucked-off frog and possesses a rather ‘mad scientist’ air (or drunk uncle…).
Sonically tight and musically sprawling, they fill their short set with unabashed joy, skittering songs and unhinged guitar solos. They play favourites (‘Chaosmöngers’, ‘Order of the Black Guards’) as well as new tracks off latest album Target Earth (‘Empathy For the Enemy’), rounding off with perennial favourite ‘Voivod’, and leave the crowd breathless and impressed. Phew!
For some, the fact that Napalm Death are ‘only’ third in this five-band lineup is a travesty, which is patently obvious when they hit the stage to a heroes welcome – and when vocalist Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway arrives onstage, the roars almost lift the roof off the place. They then launch into a forty minute set that demonstrates exactly why they are known as the ‘Godfathers of grindcore’. Bashing out tracks such as ‘Apex Predator – Easy Meat’, ‘Deceiver’, ‘Silence Is Deafening’ and even record-breakingly short ‘You Suffer’, songs which are often ‘songs’ in only the loosest sense of the word – brisk, unhinged and unstructured – but by hell are they fun, not to mention well-received by the crowd. Everywhere you look, heads are banging, people are pogoing, and – finally!- a moshpit has broken out.
Greenway is an absolute delight to watch as he tears around the stage like a cross between Mick Jagger and a tantrum-throwing toddler, vomiting lyrics into his mike with vitriol and pure punk spirit, which culminates in a cover of the Dead Kennedy’s ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’. The band also include crowd favourites ‘Smash a Single Digit’, ‘Scum’, ‘Timeless’ and ‘The Kill’ – as well as the odd new track such as ‘Cesspit’ – never letting up on either their energy or their wall of sound for even a single second. The crowd simply laps it up, responding with their own relentless energy for this most visceral of bands.
How to follow that, you ask? How about with one of death metal’s most legendary bands, Obituary. The Floridians file onstage unnassumingly and immediately fill the room with thick, pulsating beats and machinegun riffs. Having been together for over thirty years, this is a band that know what they do and they do it well: there’s no sloppiness here whatsoever as they begin with a slow burn intro and up the pace to moshpit-inducing thunderously heavy tunes.
Vocalist John Tardy greets the packed house with “Belfast, how the fuck we doing tonight?!” before opening his mouth and letting loose the Hounds of Hell. His voice is a higher pitch than is normally the standard in death metal; he could, in fact, slip deftly into a black metal band, should the urge take him.
That won’t be tonight, though, as they unleash their quite twisty and complex songs on the audience. With razor-sharp stop-starts and several thrilling detours, it’s quite adventurous in a genre that can be fairly set in its ways. Tracks such as ‘Slowly We Rot’, ‘Til Death’ and set closer ‘Intoxicated’ prove this, as well as also proving beyond a shadow of doubt that there’s life in this visionary band yet.
Slowly We Rot
Visions In My Head
Speaking of legends…Carcass have endured more lineup changes, sound changes and even name changes than a dozen bands put together, but always manage to come up trumps – their set at Bloodstock in 2014 on the back of their most recent resurgence was masterful. Headlining tonight’s lineup would be tricky: would they be able to pull something out of the bag and impress the crowd anew?
Too bloody right they would. Kicking off with ‘1985’, they plunge into their set with both venom and aplomb, to immediate approving roars from the crowd. They rely on their more classic metal numbers tonight, which showcases both their phenomenal musicianship and vocalist Jeff Walker’s demonic vocal range. The room is near as dammit to full capacity as Carcass prove unquestionably that they’ve still got ‘it’.
“We’re Carcass, from England”, Walker states amiably, as they fire out hit after hit, stretching from their grindcore roots to their death metal moments and on to their classic metal sound. Thus the crowd are treated to a ‘greatest hits’ package of sorts, with songs such as ‘Incarcerated Solvent Abuse’, ‘This Mortal Coil’ and ‘Corporal Jigsore Quandary’, as well as tracks from 2013’s Surgical Steel such as ‘Unfit For Human Consumption’ and ‘Captive Bolt Pistol’. The crowd lap it all up, laughing at Walker’s stories (“the guy from Therapy? told me not to reform the band!”), singing along devotedly to most songs and headbanging up a storm.
Their blasting powerhouse of a performance comes to a close with 1993’s ‘Heartwork’ from their breakthrough album of the same name, and they exit the stage in a swathe of flashing lights, dry ice and wailing guitars. A fantastic set, and truly headliner-worthy.
Unfit For Human Consumption
Incarnated Solvent Abuse
Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System
This Mortal Coil
The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills
Captive Bolt Pistol
Exhume To Consume/Reek of Putrefaction
Mount of Execution
Corporal Jigsore Quandary
Deathcrusher came, saw, and kicked Belfast’s ass – in the best possible way. Featuring a raft of bands across the metal spectrum, it truly proved that heavy music is alive and kicking in 2015. And the healthy numbers at the gig, despite this being a particularly gig-heavy weekend in Belfast and a Sunday night, proved that WE FUCKING LOVE IT!