Through Space and Grind Tour: Napalm Death, Voivod, Exhumed, Iron Reagan and Black Crown Initiate
Wednesday, February 4th, 2015
The Opera House, Toronto
Well, this writer was happy the weather had held off for the roads to be safe enough for him to make the long trek to Toronto on a Wednesday. After dinner with a friend and fellow music journalist, we settled in to watch and enjoy the show.
First up, Black Crown Initiate. Their sound is progressive and extreme. It seems as if they are taking notes from Fates Warning, Dream Theater, Meshuggah and even some Death. Here-in lies the problem though, getting those elements to mix properly, as every song sounds like a mismatch and thus no flow. Bear in mind, the members of the band know how to play their instruments and have some talent, but the audience in attendance (myself included) just could not latch on to the sounds.
Next up was Iron Reagan, consisting of members of both Municipal Waste and Cannabis Corpse. Their sound takes cues from early crossover trash acts such as DRI and S.O.D. The lyrics are fun and contain some gorey variety such as “Eyeball Gore” and “Bleeding Frenzy.” This thrashy crossover went over great with all in attendance as the grooves and tunes provided inspired lots of headbanging and circle pits to erupt on the floor level. Somes tunes even had an early Metallica feel and one was a cover of a classic SSD song (classic 80s hardcore band) called “Glue.” Overall, great fun set.
Exhumed took the stage next. It was a treat for this show goer to finally get to see this band live as I had not had the opportunity before. Their set was diverse and they played songs off their first album, Gore Metal (e.g. “Casket” and “Limb from Limb”) and some newer songs off both the last two albums. Along with their musicianship the group creates a vibe akin to comedic and theatrical shock groups such as Alice Copper and even Gwar. To achieve this they have a masked nurse or surgeon wielding a chainsaw and covered in blood proceed to taunt and threaten the band while they play. But the fun highlight of the show is at the end when a guillotine is used to chop off guitarist Bud Burke’s head (fake head of course) which is then held up for all to see by the masked maniac. Overall, they played a diverse set that was filled with fun, death, thrash, grind, blasts and shredding that all concert goers enjoyed. There was even a shout out dedication to Hellbound friend and sometimes contributor KSP (Kevin Stewart-Panko) who was there. This was quite possibly because he worked on the liner notes for the new Exhumed release coming out soon.
When Voivod took the stage next the crowd was in a frenzy of anticipation to see these living Canadian thrash metal legends perform. It’s always a treat to witness and hear a live Voivod show, as every one is different and exciting. This one began with the fantastic “Ripping Headaches.” The band’s playing was so tight that the crowd went from frenzy and melted into a hypnotic head nod. As always the band’s set list was very diverse. They did play a lot of classic material off their 80s albums but also threw in some twists with a couple odd ball 90s songs and of course some recent tunes from Target Earth. Most fans would agree when one says there is only one Voivod, as no band sounds, looks or performs with their ability to create such thrashing, progressive, technical and timeless music, and these guys always seem to make each show an exciting experience for the eyes, ears, mind and soul. Their set ended with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine,” a perfect tribute to another legendary progressive band.
Napalm Death was the headliner on this night and they did not disappoint. This grindcore outfit from Birmingham is nothing short of legends at this stage of their careers. They have been one of the pioneering bands in extreme music and are credited by some as creating the blast beat and grindcore itself.
On this tour Erik Burke of Sulaco and ex-Brutal Truth was asked to fill in on guitar as Mitch Harris is on leave for a while. Erik’s technical, fast, start and stop style complements Napalm Death’s rhythm section as well as Barney’s vocals brilliantly. Their set began with “On the Brink of Extinction,” which is off the brilliant album Time Waits for No Slave — its crushing fast tempos and blasts got everyone on the floor moving quickly. Later songs like “Walls of Confinement” and “Scum” could be heard and were sung and headbanged to with enthusiasm. One could not help but notice all band mates were enjoying themselves just as much as the crowd was and smiles from Barney, Danny, Shane and Erik were frequent throughout their set. As the set went on Napalm kept pulling out the classics like “Suffer the Children,” “Nazi Punk F%&k OFF” (Dead Kennedy’s cover) and the classic one or two second song “You Suffer.” Some might agree that Erik filled in very nicely and Napalm sounded as tight and cohesive as ever. The last two songs of the night were from the recently released Apex Predator – Easy Meat album, those songs being “Adversarial” and “Copulating Snakes.” Both songs sounded fantastic and very technical and interesting, seems like a nice progression that is continuing from 2012’s Utilitarian. After the show all members from the band spent time hanging out and talking with fans and friends, which in this writer’s opinion is the way each great concert should end.