25 October 2016
Review by Demitri Levantis
What do Thrash Metal, Death Metal, Industrial and Grindcore music all have in common? Well they all fit into the metal canon and are deemed extremes of said genre, but one thing that bind them all together is a focus on the theme of violence.
Yes, violence is something you’ll find almost all bands of these genres blasting countless tunes about, and the shows will definitely come with a feeling of physical passion being expressed by bands and fans alike; in a sense that is best described as that similar to a battle.
And such a battle was taking place down the Electric Ballroom in Camden one Tuesday night in October as the venue played host to some of the most violent of veterans: Obituary, Exodus and Prong.
Opening the night were a band all the way from the land down under. And said band told the crowd that Australia has its fair share of anger and viciousness to be shown to the world in the most extreme of music.
Grindcore act King Parrot took to the stage all ready and waiting to reap havoc. First impressions of said band was one of macho burley men wanting to get up close and personal in a way that would have had the likes of this reviewer laughing and thinking ‘what a boring blokish band for those who just drink all weekend.’ But no, this band had a pretty good sense of humour and offered many a memorable tune that was delivered in such ferocity one could tell just how angry you could become if you lived in a nation that is predominantly barren desert.
Many a good laugh was had by the crowd including someone shouting about ‘dingos’ which had the band making some hilarious interaction. Frontman Youngy also whipped the crowd into a frenzy with his tendency to spit bottled water over those closest to the stage. A rather punk rock style way of getting everyone ready for such a violent night.
The songs weren’t all minute, this band fused a nice level of Sludge and Thrash into the mix so we had a fair set of fairly lengthened songs to keep the venue on its toes. One very impressive first viewing of this band. Keep it up lads.
Up next, in town to promote their eleventh studio album ‘X – No Absolutes’ were the veteran Groove and Industrial fusion band Prong. A band who came to prominence in the heydays of Groove Metal alongside bands like Pantera and Stone Temple Pilots, giving the 90s a fairly fresh Metal sound alongside the dreadful onslaught of Nu Metal.
Anyways, Prong certainly pulled no punches in giving the crowd a true taste of the things an average joe might encounter on the streets of their native NYC on a Saturday night. Something nicely vicious to give a full explicit impression of the life troubles every band member had grown up with.
To start off with, it was impressive, but sadly the songs all seemed to meld into the same grooves produced again and again to try and explain just how tough you had to be to survive in the worlds Prong comes from. On first impressions, it was true these guys meant business and had a lot to offer, but the output waned with time and the sting was lost.
The crowd however, did seem happy to see the group and moshed elegantly to the tunes, even though the mundane edge of finding your own sound and making album after album sound the same with little progress had well and truly grown on this band.
Prong weren’t terrible, the sound just got boring. But it didn’t seem to outstay its welcome, the right length of time was used for these guys to come in and start their battles. Leaving the crowd ready for all action the evening’s headliners had up their sleeves.
The first of said headliners prided themselves on nothing more than the ensuing violent nature of their music and shows. Exodus, on the road now for 37 years and 11 studio albums celebrating all things evil in the most delightful forms of Thrash Metal came about to give London another hefty blow of their all American anger.
Tracks from all across their long and fruitful history made the crowd go absolutely bananas. With live show favourites like ‘War is my Shepherd’ and the signature exodus number ‘Bonded by Blood’ started more than just a few pits happening simultaneously.
Sound was excellent for this historic venue and suited the atmosphere the band created perfectly. However vocalist Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza did go on a bit too much about how great it was to play at The Underworld, just across the road and how Camden is excellent for this band. You guys made a great show out of this venue so there’s no need to bang on about the venues you’ve played most often. From what this critic could see, the crowd were just as happy as would have been at Underworld.
Though the communication with the audience went on a bit too long and did feel like that annoying cliché of a veteran band wanting to tell more stories about their career than give the audience the songs they came to hear was evident, Exodus still came away saying they still had it in them after all these years.
A nice dose of Bay Area Thrash metal, which sadly did not make it into the Big Four or extended canon of all American thrash. A delightfully brutal show to rev up the kids for what was about to come next from another part of the land of the free.
The Ballad of Leonard and Charles
Blood In, Blood Out
And Then There Were None
War Is My Shepherd
Bonded by Blood
The Toxic Waltz
Strike of the Beast
All the way from the beautiful state of Florida, London was met with the Death Metal governors who’ve made a whole career out of playing the same basic genre sound they started off with all the way back in the 80s when they were a bunch of bored, rebellious kids wanting something brutal.
And here they were to tell the world you can be as violent and angry at society, humanity and even the natural world without a blast beat in sight.
Obituary. The guys who took the Thrash Metal sound of the likes of Exodus and made it even more brutal with the death growl vocals and the heavily distorted guitar and drum arrangements. One has always regarded vocalist John Tardy as the archetypal death growler because he’s been able to sound like he has a knife in his guts for the best part of 30 years.
And that sound did not disappoint. This was a band you can call ‘basic’ on any level. Basic violence, basic stories of death, brutality, calamity and explicit woe. Sometimes even the simplest of horrors can be the most upsetting or insightful to greater dangers and here was the band who represent just that.
Giving the crowd a taste of old and new material, Obituary delivered Death Metal in its finest and most simple of blasts. They’d recently release a live album ‘Ten Thousand Ways to Die’ which gave the impression that they are a band who’ve made it in the metal world by simply listing all the ways humanity can perish.
There was no doubt about this gig being something short of incredible. The crowd were ecstatic to have this band on stage and for my money, the band to inspire new musicians to go back to their friends and colleagues and start up a garage band that may have such a simple but brutal sound but maybe become just as evil and poignant to the metal world as these Floridians have done so.
An excellent set all round, and the signature track ‘Slowly We Rot’ was anticipated more than ever because of how Obituary can make the themes of death and degradation feel so brutal and gut-wrenching by how slowly they deliver the most extreme of metal music.
Well done there guys, please come back to the UK soon. We’re a nation rotting slowly and need that anthem more than ever these days.
Words of Evil
Chopped in Half
Turned Inside Out
Ten Thousand Ways to Die
Find the Arise
Slowly We Rot
Circle of the Tyrants