sat 15/06/2024

Napalm Death, O2 Institute, Birmingham review - the Grindcore progenitors hit the spot | reviews, news & interviews

Napalm Death, O2 Institute, Birmingham review - the Grindcore progenitors hit the spot

Napalm Death, O2 Institute, Birmingham review - the Grindcore progenitors hit the spot

Brummie metallers leave ears ringing with a joyful sound

Napalm Death: Midlands' metal muthas

While it is only right that Birmingham is finally getting well-deserved credit as the well-spring and self-proclaimed Home of Metal, the media coverage of the Midlands’ place in musical history might lead anyone to think that this particular story both began and ended with the mighty Black Sabbath.

This, however, is far from the truth and tonight Grindcore originators Napalm Death made it clear that Ozzy’s mob are not the only locals to have made their mark. For, not only are they a band to have maintained the volume since the mid Eighties but, while Black Sabbath have pretty much called it a day, they are very much in the game. Indeed, they may not have any original band members left but Napalm Death are still flag-wavers for muscular riffs, drums like artillery barrages and howling vocals that are a true force of nature and more than enough to whip up a fervour.

Although they haven’t actually got a new album to promote at the moment (that’s to come later in the year), Barney, Shane, Danny and John clearly don’t see this as any reason to stay at home in front of the TV. Instead, the band took their places on the stage of the O2 Institute and let rip to a crowd of appreciative metal-heads and crusty punks who, while many were closer to retirement age than their school days, had no intention of standing still and staring at the entertainment. In fact, the mosh pit sprang into life with slam dancing, headbanging and crowd surfing almost from the first notes of “Discordance” and didn’t let up until the band wandered off an hour and a half or so later.

The action wasn’t just in the crowd either, as while John Cook and Shane Embury stood with feet planted at either side of the stage, summoning discordant chaos from their instruments, Barney Greenway lept and threw himself around between them like a man half his age, microphone in hand. Indeed, they tore through renditions of “Can’t Play, Won’t Pay”, “Smash a Single Digit” from their most recent album and new single “Logic Ravaged by Brute Force” like men possessed.

While taking in the infamous shortest known recorded song of all time, “You Suffer”, Barney also had plenty of time to stress Napalm Death’s opposition to those that hold power with his between-song banter. Introducing the raucous “Fatalist” with a warning to be wary of religious types who would intrude on our basic personal freedoms and punk-like blitzkrieg of “When All is said and Done” with a call for love and peace, it was crystal clear that no-one on stage was a lover of the political status quo. Finishing up with covers of the Dead Kennedy’s “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” and Sonic Youth’s blistering “White Kross” – a couple of songs from punk’s political heyday – they also underlined themselves as fine purveyors of a howling but joyful tornado of mangled guitars and feedback and that was just the tonic for a cold winter’s evening.

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