On Wedneyday 3rd July the Casino had organised together with the Kulturfabrik a concert with Napalm Death, the undisputed originators of the grindcore genre who have been active since the Eighties and still show no signs of fatigue. Back in the days I saw Napalm Death once opening for Cradle Of Filth. They truly destroyed and were so amazing that I had to leave after two songs by the black metal divas, so lame was their sound compared to the Birmingham grindsters. I thought this show must have been five to ten years ago, and only now found out, while doing some research on the never forgetting and almighty Internet, that this has been already fifteen long years ago! How time flies…
First of all today should be the presentation of the newest edition of the fanzine Conservative Shithead, the brainchild of art critic Jérôme Lefèvre and artist Damien Deroubaix, both of whom are also the curators of the exhibition Altars Of Madness. Somehow I missed this part of the evening, although I did arrive on time. But still it took quite some time before French grindcore veterans Blockheads finally found their way onto the stage. The band which has been active since the late Eighties still adheres to the early primal sort of grindcore where the songs are rarely any longer than one minute. Starting about a quarter to nine, the quartet truly indulged the audience with twenty-seven songs which made it to three quarters of an hour. Maybe my ears aren’t what they used to be, but I didn’t like the sound very much. The drums were blitzkrieg-fast and ultimately impressive, but then they were also the only thing that I heard well. Guitar and bass somehow got lost in the mix, and while I found the vocals ok at first, I soon grew tired of them. I understand that Blockheads are no up-and-coming newcomers, but still in my opinion they were overstaying their welcome. No matter how many beers I drank, I couldn’t find my way back into their music. Half the length would have made this a nice introduction to the evening, but this longish performance and the obligatory break between sets made it nearly ten o clock before it was finally time for Napalm Death to enter the stage.
Some people may complain that Napalm Death have had so many line-up changes over the years that not a single one founding member is left, but that doesn’t change the fact that the current one has only members that have been in the band for more than twenty years, and the names Barney Greenway, Mitch Harris, Shane Embury and Danny Herrera are no stranger to even semi-literate heavy metal fans. The years have of course left their traces, most of all on burly bass player Shane Embury whose long hair combined with top head baldness looks kind of funny, while vocalist Barney Greenway still looks like a chubby mischievous kid from Birmingham. But then they are not that old, all in their mid-forties, and definitely are still able to show the younger generations how to truly sound extreme.
Sound was also a bit of an issue at first, but the engineer soon found something rather listenable, even though it seems that grindcore is not as easy to configure for a live setting than tamer kinds of metal. The band seemed in a good mood, switched between ancient material and newer songs, with everything in between, and my day finally became a success when they played their hit single “Suffer The Children” from their 1990 album “Utopia Banished”, their first one to feature Greenway on vocals.
I didn’t stay until the end, as this was a weekday show, but I was happy to hear that the grindcore pioneers haven’t lost any of their charm. Barney Greenway’s announcement between songs can be a bit lengthy, and his proud Birmingham accent is not easy to understand for everyone, but he comes across as a funny chap, adding a dose of humour in between the grim music.
I was also pleasantly surprised that about 300 people showed up, a respectful number for a Wednesday night show, especially considering that the same night Dead Can Dance were at the Abbaye Neumunster, The Sword at the Rockhal and Total Chaos in the SoulKitchen. Now please I don’t want to hear any more complaints that Luxembourg is a cultural wasteland!