It’s rare that such a good lineup comes to Dublin. I’ve written about Carcass before and without wanting to sound overly dramatic or clichéd, I would not be here without them. Hearing Symphonies of Sickness when I was fifteen years old was my introduction to extreme metal, and it’s been such a huge influence on my musical tastes.
Doors for this gig opened before six, which is a sure sign that there is a long night ahead.
I unfortunately missed the first band on the lineup, Herod, but arrived just in time to catch the second half of the next band’s set. Canada’s Voivod I had heard of but not really listened to. They deliver fast, heavy, and downright fun music – I had thought they were a death metal act in the tradition of their countrymen Cryptopsy , but got straightforward heavy metal. There was a great party atmosphere thanks to the frontman’s engaging crowd banter and crowd-pleasing sing along riffs.
We apparently live in a crazy world where Napalm Death are lower billed than Obituary, but despite this bizarre circumstance I made my way to the very front of the venue and steeled myself to get battered by the crowd. As one of the grand old progenitors of grind music, Napalm Death have strong roots in DIY, and they stayed true to this by doing their own sound check and tech setup before the show. It’s quite a sight to watch Shane Embury (the Brad Pitt of Grindcore) spend ten minutes making minute adjustments to his bass tone, and suddenly launch into their fast, relentless brand of grindcore. Barney’s peculiar stage presence – flailing and stomping around like an overgrown, slightly awkward child – is weird at first, but well suits their politically-charged anger and aggression. They had a set with a good mix from their career – obviously the infamous You Suffer was featured, as was an extra-high speed, barely coherent cover of Dead Kennedys’ Nazi Punks Fuck Off. (Though the Dead Kennedys themselves rarely managed to keep it together live, so I guess it’s true to the spirit of the original.)
Obituary are a band I go back and forth on. Around the time that Carcass changed my life, just over a decade ago, I couldn’t get into Obituary. I gave Slowly We Rot many chances, but it just never really spoke to me the way other death metal did. Since then, I’ve listened to them a few times with friends, and began to make sense of the appeal, but also seen them a few times, and never really got it. But something has finally clicked between me and Obituary, and I’m delighted. Seeing them in this venue really brought it together, and the most impressive aspect by far was the drumming, not for any particular technical excess, but by being a solid, grounded base for the rest of the band and ploughing through the set at full tilt without ever relenting. They played a couple more instrumental tracks than I expected, but if anyone deserves to rest their vocal chords it’s John Tardy – how the man can still speak after over two decades of the nastiest, most guttural vocals in metal, is beyond me.
After finally getting to see Carcass at last year’s Bloodstock, I was curious to see how they managed in a smaller venue. They opened with last album’s lead single, Unfit for Human Consumption, and played a set that was initially more geared towards their recent material. I’m not usually one for moshing – I listen intently, and I like to watch the musicians – but the energy got me fired up and I had one of the most fun pits of my gig-going career. Jeff is a fantastic frontman, the band are incredibly tight, and I was delighted to notice Bill drinking a bottle of O’Hara’s beer, brewed in my hometown. The later half of the set featured more material from early in their career – my own favourite track Exhume to Consume being my personal highlight. The ending to the gig was slightly anti-climactic, as Jeff made several goodbyes between brief passages of music, each time sounding like an intro to a final song, but never delivering on that promise.
And then I went to the airport, covered in beer and sweat (not all of it mine), and got a flight to Scotland, no doubt stinking up the plane and ruining the trip for anyone sitting nearby. Sorry about that.