The Factory, Sydney
October 11th, 2017
Supports: Brujeria, Lock Up and Black Rheno
This is a gig definitely not for the faint hearted. This line-up is championing some of the more extreme metal fraternity’s finest. Napalm Death, the gods of grindcore, returning to Australia after their triumphant tour in 2015, supporting their latest splatter, Apex predator-Easy Meat. Their last gig at The Factory, on this tour, was unbelievable and will be hard to top tonight. Brujeria not far from the “grindcore god” status themselves, a US/Mexican outfit who have been around for as nearly long as Napalm Death; Brujeria were formed in 1989. They have an amazingly heavy and explosive sound, but I am yet to witness their onslaught live; so I am looking forward to their set. Now to Lock Up, a project that has, throughout the course of their career, graced most of the elite musicians of the extreme genre, including Mick Barker on drums tonight (Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Testament, Nuclear Assault…and the list goes on) and Mr Shane Embury, who will be fulfilling bass duties along with his beloved Napalm Death. Finally, the Aussie contingent Black Rheno are opening up the evening. They haven’t been around for too long, since 2015, but in this time have built up a decent following and I am sure they won’t let this opportunity to play alongside such established acts tonight pass them by.
The Factory, on a Wednesday night, I must say is quite packed! It is hard to get a decent crowd at a midweek gig in this town, but tonight a lot of people missed the memo. Now I appreciate that Napalm Death are like the Iron Maiden of heavy metal, but this is a great showing. People are in a great mood and the energy indicated early on, that punters had come to get lost in the extremity and destroy the place.
Black Rheno hit the stage first and they came to play; just as I thought. They blistered straight in to their set, knowing that the majority of the house would be unaware of them, but they got everyone’s attention. What struck me here was the tightness of the band and the fact that they really can play and even though they have no bass player they have quite a balanced sound. It is always hard to warm up a crowd, especially so early in the night, but thy put on an amazing set and are well worth checking out. The lead singer was like a Peter Garret of grind; and this isn’t just because he is bald. I am very keen now to have a listen to their recorded material and soak up everything that was going on tonight. I certainly hope that this isn’t the last time I see Black Rheno on a decent stage like this.
Next up was Lock Up, who hit the stage at about 8:20pm. Shane Embury walked on to the stage to blistering applause and yelling, but to know this band, they are not a one man show. As I outlined earlier they have had, over the course of their tenure, some amazing talent and tonight the band that we saw were no different. They are heavy, they are aggressive and they are intense. This band has been around for nearly ten years and they don’t come across like a side project, like they have been labelled. They are a cohesive outfit and they are playing with the intensity of a very young band with something to prove. I have to acknowledge here the drumming of Mick, he really stood out tonight in my mind and drove this band, keeping the material ticking over with ferocity and purpose. Songs such as ‘Accelerated Mutilation’, ‘God is Dead Satan Lives‘ and ‘Void’ really rung through and had proven without the shadow of a doubt, just why they are such an amazing band; even though are a little too underground. They have only released four albums in their career and on tonight’s performance I hope this line up has another in the bag or being written currently. Very impressed!
Now to Brujeria. The evening is official, the crowd are getting warm and the timing was right for them to hit the stage now. Brujeria are actually a seasoned head liner in their own right so it was a privilege to see them here tonight as well as Napalm Death on the same bill. Again, this band hit the stage leaving nothing in the tank. I was really drawn to front man Juan Brujo and his offsider, who commanded the stage and demanded attention. Low and behold, Shane Embury appears again, now as the bass player in Brujeria, along with Mick Barker on drums! What a night! It was great to see that there was a percentage of the crowd who were familiar with them tonight and this supported, obviously, crowd-band interaction. However, for me, this was not totally my cup of tea, the bandannas covering the lower half of their faces, the comedy, which to me just didn’t seem to work (but not everyone would agree with this) and some of the posturing went over my head. But overall, what left me hanging in there with the set was the fact that these guys, as angry as their music would have you believe, are happy blokes who love what they do.
Last but definitely not least, Napalm Death. The place exploded when the lights went down, it was obvious that this was the act we were all here to see and by this stage in the night, the crowd was well and truly warmed up. What struck me with Napalm Death tonight was how well songs from Apex Predator-Easy Meat actually fit within the back catalogue. Songs like ‘Dear Slum Landlord‘, ‘How the Years Condemn‘ and the title track ‘Apex Predator-Easy‘ were seamless in the set. When I first listened to this album two years ago, I was blown away, it was so intense and extreme and I wasn’t sure how the songs would transition live, but it all works. Old favourites such as ‘Scum’ and ‘Suffer the Children‘ went down so well, and ultimately the whole performance was amazing. I have followed so many bands through their career since I started listening to metal music in 1981, and over the course of time most bands mellow to a certain extent, once they mature and their song writing metamorphoses with the experience of the musicians. However, Napalm Death, missed the boat on this and I mean this in all due respect. This band is as extreme as they were in 1987 with the release of Scum. They have kept the intensity of their music since their inception, a rarity as explained, but they have harnessed their sound and create soundscapes that transcend the genre. Tonight the sound was clear, it wasn’t muddied and it had depth. This enabled everyone in the crowd, whether you were destroying the venue in the pit, or standing back and just immersing yourself in the extremity to enjoy it. The seasoned musicianship of Shane Embury, John Cooke (guitar), who has been standing in for Mitch Harris for some time, Danny Herrera (drums) and front man Barney Greenway really hit home tonight, and it showed that the strength of the bands nucleus, Shane and Barney, have kept this outfit fresh for so long. I really want to mention Barney further here as well, despite him having the voice of a demon, well essentially he does, he comes across as just a real nice sincere bloke who is a deep thinker and a social and moral spectator of human life and society. There are no egos about this front man, no posturing and no “tough guy” attitude act. He is sincere and straight from the heart and I believe this is why people can relate to him straight away. Even the two cover songs of punk bands really worked and I guess emphasised just how rooted within punk the band’s sound is.
All too quickly the bands set came to a close. Tonight they have proven unequivocally that they are the undisputed godfather of grindcore. The band have been talking about a new album in 2018 and considering just how they are playing at the moment I really can’t wait to hear what they are writing. An amazing night that no punter walked away from disappointed, I am lost for words and absolutely stoked to have had the opportunity to see this bill. Thank you Soundworks Touring I am speechless, well nearly.