What do you expect with that name but an evening’s earbashing of the highest quality? There was more than a knowing nod to the legendary Grindcrusher tour of 1989, arguably when a wave of death metal extremity was reaching its peak and being of a venerable age I was there to see/semi-survive as well. Only half the line-up was the same but there was a great deal of excited anticipation at a proper metal party and a gathering of lots of friends, old schoolers, no wiser!
Taking twice as long to get over to Manchester due to half term Friday traffic nightmares meant I missed odd add-on opener, Herod. Apparently some experimental sludge from Switzerland they’d been squeezing a 20 minute slot into the tour, quarter of an hour after doors, and I haven’t really heard anyone who’d caught them. Flashback reverse to tonight’s headliners who were opening and on stage to a half empty hall when we got into the Grindcrusher. Anyway, I did arrive a couple of songs into the somewhat misfit in the bill, Voivod, and piled straight up the front which wasn’t packed but full of happy people. Not death by any stretch of the imagination, the psychedelic Canadian thrashers are however intense and interesting, always doing their own thing and invoking a good reaction. My love for them has been much reported over recent years and it’s great to see the regard and affection they are held with, perhaps also providing a surprise satisfaction to the even more extreme elitists who may be here.
Next Napalm Death, they’d been headliners at the 1989 do, in fact it was vocalist Barney’s first show with them that night, and it had been great to chat with them among the crowds, even fun to crawl through the pit to the side of the venue winded after a crowdsurf gone wrong. The grind machine has rolled on in all directions and worldwide in the meantime, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I have seen them but this was a particularly intense one. Vocals particularly spot on and with fill-in guitarist John looking a good fit to the ferocious family. As ever, the pointed and provocative banter delivered with love brings smiles and appreciative nods before another song is torn through.
Obituary had been in a similar position following their noisy brethren and occasional collaborators on the Campaign For Musical Destruction tour in 1992, when I was threatened with being thrown off a balcony by their tour manager, and they have probably been one of the most consistent in delivering their destruction over the years. The magic ingredients of ultra-heavy tones and sick vocals are all they need, it’s a riff feast that we can get fat on. Perhaps an overindulgence in guitar solos for my base (sic) tastes, but they do give the contrast for when the pleasantly tortuous sonic assault kicks back in. Crazy pits go off and they seem a highlight for many.
So finally, the Mersey beat(ings) boys and expectations of anti-climax? For me Carcass have been going downhill for a long time, and have evolved beyond the gloriously rotten three-piece I saw in dank basements in the 80’s to a more polished, accessible article. Such is their path to choose and me a different one but my last experience of them at Hellfest made me set to not going to go out of my way to see them again. But I’m here and I take it as it comes, the sound is good, Jeff is not too antagonistic and I forgive all for the unearthed old gems in the middle of the set. Doesn’t last though, still too much rocking out and cliché and they even say Voivod should have headlined. And we are shuffled/swept out of the venue for a 10pm curfew so that there can be night of power ballads to follow!
Doesn’t take the edge of a thoroughly enjoyable evening, one that will again stake its mark in the chronology of extremity, even if not perhaps to the same scale as the excitement of the original. Even after all this time there’s no sense of decay in the death, the scene retains vitality. Fair play to all these guys for powering on and inspiring the chaos on the dark side. Maybe me and the kids are just to spoiled and cynical these days, or maybe I’m just in need of another party!