Suffer The Children – Napalm Death live in Lawrence, KS 02/26/15

napalm death flyer

There aren’t very many bands like Napalm Death left in the world. Going into their 34th year as a band, the UK group has left permanent marks on the formation of grindcore, death metal and extreme music as a whole. Their constant touring over the least 30 years has all but made them a household name with even those unfamiliar with the genre and they’ve influenced countless musicians who, in turn, have influenced countless more. They capped off a lineup composed of a few bands who owe their existence to Napalm Death and a rare example of a band who could be considered their peers.

Photo courtesy of Mushu Powell of The Kansas Coqui Nest

Photo courtesy of Mushu Powell of The Kansas Coqui Nest

The Granada in Lawrence, KS was in a constant state of motion for the entire length of the show. Openers Altered Beast, a new Kansas City band comprised of veterans of the scene, played an enjoyable brand of old-school metalcore (the actual kind, not the bastardized version associated with the name now) and were just as punishing as any of the other bands on the bill. Heavy breakdowns coupled with amazing riffing showcased a local band with an extremely bright (or bleak, depending on how you want it to sound) future ahead of them.

Photo courtesy of Mushu Powell of The Kansas Coqui Nest

Photo courtesy of Mushu Powell of The Kansas Coqui Nest

The first touring band was Phobia – legends in their own right. A mainstay in the US grindcore scene for years, Phobia have finally nailed down a pretty stable lineup and it shows. They played a huge setlist (about 20 songs – easily) and each song was just as aggressive as the last. Vocalist Shane Mclachlan has to be one of the best pure grindcore vocalists today, and coupled with the frantic drumming of grind legend Bryan Fajardo, all the blastbeats and riffing came together in to one beautiful mess. Maybe the best performance of the night?

Photo courtesy of Mushu Powell of The Kansas Coqui Nest

Photo courtesy of Mushu Powell of The Kansas Coqui Nest

Iron Reagan have been a band for less than three years but they’ve already earned a reputation as one of the best live bands around. Maybe it’s because the group is comprised of members from bands like Municipal Waste, Cannabis Corpse and Darkest Hour – but after seeing them live it’s obviously because of their insane stage presence, catchy old-school crossover music and crowd interaction. Vocalist Tony Foresta has the perfect voice for crossover and doesn’t waste any time calling for circle pits and singing along – both of which the Granada crowd happily obliged. Iron Reagan hits both ends of the spectrum – performing 5 songs from their “Spoiled Identity” EP in under 2 minutes, then closing their set with a cover of Cannibal Corpse’s “Skull Full of Maggots” with Exhumed’s Matt Harvey on vocals and going right into their epic (well, as epic as an Iron Reagan song can get) “Four More Years” which had the first crowd surfers of the night. An intense set from one of the best live bands on the planet right now.

Photo courtesy of Mushu Powell of The Kansas Coqui Nest

Photo courtesy of Mushu Powell of The Kansas Coqui Nest

California’s Exhumed just seems to get better with age – so when they went and revisited their debut album “Gore Metal” to re-record it, it opened a treasure trove of old-school deathgrind classics for the band to bring out in their live set once again. Performing in that Carcass-tinged style that everyone loves, Exhumed adds a little flair to their death metal not only with impeccable musical prowess, crazy dual guitar solos and groovy breakdowns, but during Limb From Limb, a blood-splattered scrubs-wearing doctor ran on stage with an actual chainsaw and revved it over the crowd a few times, filling the air with the smell of gasoline. To cap off their set with the unmatchable “Open The Abscess,” guitarist Bud Burke was “executed” by a guillotine Alice Cooper-style, spraying fake blood out over the audience. With their combination of some of the best deathgrind out today and their stage theatrics, Exhumed continues to improve upon already near-perfect performances.

Photo courtesy of Mushu Powell of The Kansas Coqui Nest

Photo courtesy of Mushu Powell of The Kansas Coqui Nest

The one outlier on this grind-filled tour is the appearance of classic Canadian progressive thrash legends Voivod. The only band to feature clean vocals and clean guitars at some point during their set, some of the crowd was understandably wary of the performance or chose to ignore it all together. But for the crowd of rabid Voivod fans that stayed, they were greeted with one of the most impressive thrash sets in a long time. I went into this performance knowing the name Voivod but not knowing the music and they put on a great performance – lots of energy, lots of crowd participation and so many killer riffs, drum fills and guitar solos. Their sound was all over the place – heavy hitting and fast like on “Ripping Headaches” and the eponymous “Voivod” coupled with the extremely melodic “The Prow” and new song “We Are Connected.” No matter what they were playing, Voivod did a fantastic job at the ever-changing time signatures and almost complete genre-changes within each song. The most technically impressive band of the night, Voivod ended their set with their staple cover of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine” as a tribute to their fallen guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour. I think they won over more than a few new fans last night.

Photo courtesy of Mushu Powell of The Kansas Coqui Nest

Photo courtesy of Mushu Powell of The Kansas Coqui Nest

But really, how can the death metal and grindcore children compete when the extreme metal fathers are in the house? As stated before, Napalm Death are extreme metal legends – they could easily be put up alongside Death, Possessed and any number of classic thrash bands for their contributions and influence to extreme music. Whether it’s inventing the blast beat, incorporating death metal into their pure grindcore sound or being one of the most socially conscious and political bands in the metal scene, Napalm Death cannot be underestimated in any capacity. And right along with it, their live show is truly a sight to behold. Even though frontman Barney Greenway’s arm was in a sling and their guitarist Mitch Harris was absent from the tour (resulting in a fill-in spot for ex-Brutal Truth shredder Erik Burke), the performance was still non-stop insanity.

Filled with cuts from their fantastic new album “Apex Predator – Easy Meat” like the bouncing groove of “Timeless Flogging” and “Smash A Single Digit” which may just be the most ferocious Napalm Death song recorded in 15 years, the real treat was all the classic songs they played. 1992′s “I Abstain,” 1990′s “Suffer The Children” and 1988′s “Unchallenged Hate” all hit with just as much heaviness as any current-day death metal band’s inferior tracks. The biggest reception of the night came from anything off the debut album “Scum” – one of the first albums any self-respecting extreme metal fan owns when learning the genre’s roots. “The Kill” and “Control” were blisteringly fast but the title track brought out the biggest mosh pit of the night – the juxtaposition of the slow bass build-up to the explosion of blast beats and grinding guitars is the perfect formula for the perfect grindcore song, all done by Napalm Death before you or I were even born.

Napalm Death:

Discordance (intro)
Vision Conquest
I Abstain
On The Brink Of Extinction
Smash A Single Digit
Walls Of Confinement
Scum
M.A.D.
The Kill
Control
You Suffer
Cesspits
Nazi Punks Fuck Off (Dead Kennedys cover)
Everyday Pox
How The Years Condemn
Dead
Timeless Flogging
Suffer The Children
Plague Rages
Unchallenged Hate
Adversarial/Copulating Snakes

Voivod:

Ripping Headaches
Tribal Convictions
Overreaction
Mechanical Mind
The Prow
The Unknown Knows
We Are Connected
Voivod
Astonomy Domine (Pink Floyd cover)

Exhumed:

All Guts, No Glory (intro)
As Hammer To Anvil
Torso
Limb From Limb
Sickened
Casketkrusher
In My Human Slaughterhouse
The Naked And The Dead
Ready To Fight (Negative Approach cover)
Open The Abscess

Iron Reagan:

I Won’t Go
Eyeball Gore
In Greed We Trust
Cycles Of Violence
Tongue Tied
The Living Skull
Bet On Black
Spoiled Identity
Zero Gain
Miserable Failure
Your Kid’s An Asshole
Mini Lights
Paycheck
Skull Full Of Maggots (feat. Matt Harvey) (Cannibal Corpse cover)
I Ripped That Testament A New Asshole
Four More Years

Phobia:

Bring The War
Black Out
So Full Of Hate
Fuck What You Think
Drunken Spree of Violence
Let’s Get Pissed
Blind Arrogance
Ultimate Suffering
Rape, Theft, Murder
Taxes At Work
Rehashed
Filthy Fucking Punks
Beer Break
Breeding Despite
Rise Up
Contradiction
Submission Hold
Means of Existence
Dying For Who?
Selfish Minds
Sick Life
I Reject
Cruel
Get Up And Kill
If You Used To Be Punk, You Never Were
Beer, Bitches and Bullet Belts
Contest To Amend
Savannah’s Assault

About Jackson May

Read more from Jackson at Mandatory Metallica and follow him on Twitter at @Mankvill.

View all articles by Jackson May

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