Napalm Death

Australian Tour Diary 2007

By Aedan Siebert

09 October 2007

It's not every day that you get a chance to witness one of the most influential acts in a field of music live. But after an eleven year absense from our shores, the mighty Napalm Death finally returned to show just why they are as brutal today as they ever were. As you'd expect from The Metal Forge, we were there in force to cover it with both words and pictures...

Napalm Death/Blood Duster/Captain Cleanoff - Fowlers Live, Adelaide, Australia, 5 September 2007

Words and images by Aedan Siebert

Blood Duster live in Adelaide, AustraliaSometimes, if you wait long enough and cross your fingers so hard they cramp up, you get the chance to see one of those amazing acts that have both helped to define a particular genre, and been responsible for shaping metal into the beast that it is today...

I arrived at the venue just in time to catch the last half of Aussie blaster's Captain Cleanoff's (apologies for missing the start boys) set; the band belting out track after track of quality Australian grind. While the venue was only just over half full at that stage, the band did a fine job at warming up the crowd, preparing them for the onslaught of extremity that was soon to follow.

Speaking of all things extreme, before long it was time for the mighty Blood Duster to take the stage; Oz metal heroes in their own right. It was a particularly special performance for me, as it was the first time I'd actually managed to see the boys live. Busting out a barrage of classic Duster tracks like: Kill, Kill. Kill, Volgar Taste, Porn Store Stiffi and Barrel Chock full of Dead Cops they did not disappoint. It's always good when a band actually lives up to it's live reputation - there really is nothing worse than having a band turn out to be nowhere near as good as you expected.

Blood Duster live in Adelaide, AustraliaAfter the Duster had finished grinding out their grove laden waves of brutality, a ripple of excitement spread throughout the crowd - before long, we'd all bear witness to the band that many had waited a very, very long time to see.

Excited chatter soon turned to screams of joy as the sounds of Weltschmerz drifted loudly through the speakers, quickly followed by Barney and co. strolling onto the stage and launching into the brutal sounds of Sink Fast, Let Go from the band's 2006 masterpiece, Smear Campaign. Any misconceptions, reservations or reluctance as to exactly how the mighty Napalm Death would hold up on the live front were promptly blown away as the now near capacity crowd erupted into a frenzied pit of metal mayhem. Throughout the next hour and a bit fans were treated to a wealth of grind goodness. Fantastic tracks like Scum, Control, Siege Of Power, The Code Is Red... Long Live The Code, Persona Non Grata and the Dead Kennedys classic Nazi Punks Fuck Off were the order of the day, the band diving deep into their back catalogue to construct a mixed set list that almost any fan could enjoy.

Throughout the gig Barney dished out a few statements regarding his political and religious beliefs - and judging from the reaction of some of the punters in the crowd, they were beliefs that obviously not everyone shared. Like it or lump it though, Napalm is a band that has always made their societal views quite clear.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the whole gig (for me anyway) was the band's unbridled intensity and stage presence - acting like a band in their third or fourth year rather than one in their 26th, the showmanship on display was truly amazing and should go down as a lesson that many other bands should take heed of. In the end, after the band slowly made their way off stage (they took plenty of time out to properly thank the fans) it was obvious that Napalm Death had well and truly blown nearly everyone's socks off. For me it wasn't just a great gig, it was one of those moments in time that made me realize exactly why I love metal as much as I do.

Blood Duster live in Adelaide, AustraliaBlood Duster live in Adelaide, Australia

Napalm Death/Blood Duster/Ebolie - The Manning Bar, Sydney, Australia, 7 September 2007

Words and images by Michael O'Brien

First on the bill was Sydney's Ebolie whose name I have been aware of for some time but I had never heard before. Their set comprised a bucket load of energy and intensity but failed to draw any lasting interest from me in the end. Though they were technically proficient and they assaulted the crowd with a relentless barrage of shredding riffs and blasting drums I found myself bored very quickly with their brand of death/grind. Overall it was ok; Nothing more, nothing less.

Napalm Death live in Sydney, AustraliaThe second act of the night was Victoria's Blood Duster, who I was looking forward to seeing because it has been some years since I have seen them live and even longer since I had bought an album. Suffice it so say that my expectations were easily met and even surpassed. Of all the death/grind/gore/comedy acts out there Blood Duster consistently manage to pull off their style with flair and always seem to sound fresh to me. Though the latest release of theirs that I own is 1996's Yeest, I thoroughly enjoyed the newer material. Thankfully some of the old classics from Yeest and Fisting the Dead made their way into the set as well. The death/grind veterans know how to turn in an excellent performance and the crowd loved every minute of it.

After what seemed like an eternity, the lights finally went dim and the night's headliners took the stage in Sydney for the first time in a very long time.

Though Napalm Death have been around for some 26 years, I must confess that I have never really considered myself to be a fan. This isn't a reflection on the band themselves but rather that I've never gone out of my way to get into them. With this in mind I was hoping that seeing the band in a live setting could turn me into a fan.

By the time the first few songs were over it occurred to me that I was at a serious disadvantage compared to the hundreds of others at the show who were there because of their loyalty to the grindcore veterans. With my familiarity of their material amounting to a grand total of zero, all I could really discern from the set was a solid wall of blasting, ear piercing noise. Not for want of trying mind you.

Napalm Death live in Sydney, AustraliaNapalm Death live in Sydney, Australia

I found myself wandering around to different places inside, and then finally onto the balcony outside to try and get a clearer picture of what was going on on the stage but for all of my effort I just couldn't find that listening sweet spot nor the panacea that would allow me some kind of miraculous understanding of what I was seeing, which is a real shame because it appeared that everybody else was completely in tune with what they were being presented.

In light of my individual experience I can definitely say that everybody else that I saw and spoke to rated Napalm's performance as top notch, and from their stage show it really isn't hard to see why, in spite of my lack of musical understanding. These guys are all circa 40 years old but still command the stage with an iron fist. They turned in a blistering performance from start to finish with the occasional break in between for Mark Greenway to speak to the crowd in his soft and subtle English accent which served as a stark and somewhat amusing counterpoint to his trademark harsh vocals.

I truly wish I could say that seeing Napalm Death live served as some sort of artistic epiphany that instantly converted me into a rabid fan but the truth is that this didn't happen. I did however come away from the show impressed by their skill, stage presence and the fan base that they command which is making me want to like them and make an effort to get some of their CDs.

In the end it isn't important whether I am a fan of the band or not because mine is only a tiny voice in a sea of many others who are singing a completely different tune and that is all that matters.

Napalm Death live in Sydney, Australia

Napalm Death/Blood Duster - The Arena, Brisbane, Australia, 8 September 2007

Words by Jamie Cook and images by Simon Milburn

Situated in the West Midlands of England is a place called Birmingham, and for the true classic Metal fans of the world, this working class city gave birth to a genre of music called Heavy Metal around the mid 1960's courtesy of four young lads who would be known through households of the world as Black Sabbath. Turn forward the clock to the early 1980's, Birmingham was about to spawn another Metal juggernaut, the originators of Grindcore / Death Metal, Napalm Death, and tonight, after an eleven year absence to these shores, they returned to inflict some real punishment on Brisbane's loyal fans.

Scoring the national support slot was grinding death rockers from Melbourne, Blood Duster. Having seen these guys a bunch of times this past year, nothing much had changed, except for stand in drummer Dave Haley of Psycroptic/Ruins. Blood Duster is still a great live band who dishes out a lot of laughs through their set, and this evening was no different. If talking about things such as pissing in your mouth, and telling the crowd to go and get fucked appeases you, then yobbo's of the world unite, these guys are just what the doctor ordered.

It was July 21st 1996 that I last saw Napalm Death play this same venue. Back then they played a ferocious set as a five piece, but tonight's performance as a four piece made eleven years ago look like a high school musical. Casually taking the stage to their desired positions, from the moment their instruments are cocked and loaded, it's all out war! If you've ever wondered what it feels like to get hit full pelt by a Freight Train over and over, witness Napalm Death live! The intensity that was served up for the next eighty minutes is something words cannot accurately describe. You had to be there. To get proceedings under way, Sink Fast Let Go opened the Brisbane show, followed by Unchallenged Hate and Suffer the Children. Watching vocalist Barney Greenway move onstage is like mixing drunken pub dancing with some Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil maneuvers, but hearing his trademark guttural growls are enough to make Satan vacate Hell in fright. Barney's between song banter proves he's just your average nice guy that makes you laugh, but at the same time he shows his serious side on various issues like APEC and how religion has screwed the world we live in, and is nothing more than a proven myth. Guitarist Mitch Harris has one of the biggest guitar sounds I've heard coming from this venue in many years, while drummer Danny Herrera's blast beats could provide the soundtrack to any battlefield. Napalm Death churned a great selection of tracks that would've made any fan smile with delight. Breed to Breathe, Scum, Life?, Hung, You Suffer, The Code is Red, Deceiver and The Kill were just a small number of tunes that belted the Brisbanites eardrums.

Napalm Death live in Brisbane, AustraliaNapalm Death live in Brisbane, AustraliaNapalm Death live in Brisbane, Australia

After a short break, the Napalm lads returned for a few more tunes which consisted of their cover of the Dead Kennedy's classic, Nazi Punks Fuck Off, which was received with possibly the loudest cheer of the night, before finishing up with some Mass Appeal Madness and Siege of Power. Barney bid farewell to the four hundred strong crowd, and promised they'd be back in two years. As the band left the stage, it took me a good few minutes or so to come back to reality and realise what I'd just seen, and how much of an amazingly flawless performance the Godfathers of Grind gave us. Hurry back!

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