Written by: Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
Anticipated by many as the metal event of the year to date, the Deathcrusher tour rolled into Dublin on a rainy October bank holiday Monday. It was somewhat surprising that the show had not been sold-out months in advance with five big name bands participating, any of whom could have headlined their own Dublin show. Nonetheless, more than 1200 metal fans, young and old, almost fill Vicar Street, a venue seldom used for extreme music.
First out of the gates are the “newbies” of the night, Herod. You will be excused for not knowing much about the Swiss progressive sludge quartet, having only released their debut album last year, but their aggressive style is the perfect kick-start to Deathcrusher. Immediately noticeable is the excellent sound quality which must be attributed to the venue acoustics, sound-engineers and musicians equally. The early 6pm start means that numbers are modest in the open floor space, but banging heads and gestures of approval confirm that late comers missed out on seeing a great new band. Definitely worth checking out the next time they visit our shores.
The schedule is necessarily tight but running smoothly as French-Canadian stalwarts Voivod take the stage at precisely 6:40 pm. Despite varied musical styles across their thirty year and thirteen album back catalogue, Voivod unsurprisingly choose to perform a selection their thrashier tracks considering their audience and headliners. Opening with ‘Ripping Headaches’ from their 1986 sophomore album Rrröööaaarrr, the setlist is picked entirely from albums from the 1980’s, save for one brand new track ‘Forever Mountain’ taken from their split 7″ Vinyl with Napalm Death. The thrashy tracks mixed with their progressive styling goes down well with the ever-building audience, although participation is still quite tame. Closing with the high energy self-titled track ‘Voivod’ from their 1984 debut album War and Pain, it is clear that there is still a healthy appetite for their music, and hopefully they will return to Dublin again soon with more time to share.
The third band of the night are “special guests” Napalm Death whose participation was not exactly the best kept secret when the Deathcrusher tour was first announced. Unfortunately, the sound quality and fidelity takes a hit during the British grindcore pioneers’ set, but the antics of ever-hyperactive frontman Mark “Barney” Greenway distract attention from the brick-wall issues. The setlist features a handful of tracks from their latest release Apex Predator – Easy Meat such as ‘Smash a Single Digit’ and ‘Metaphorically Screw You’, alongside a wide selection of typically short tracks from their 16 album repertoire. A special treat from their 1987 debut album Scum, is the 1.3 second long ‘You Suffer’ which was subsequently released on a 7″ single in 1989 with another one-second long track on the B-side, making it the shortest single ever released. Another treat is the Dead Kennedy’s cover ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ which Napalm Death released on their 1999 covers album Leaders Not Followers. Their high energy performance gets the adrenaline pumping in the bustling crowd and serves to further heighten the anticipation for the remaining bands.
Legendary death metal pioneers Obituary take the helm next, prompting a sudden swell in the crowd as the drinking and smoking areas quickly empty. The contagious riff of opening instrumental track ‘Redneck Stomp’ from their 2005 album Frozen in Time immediately gets every head in the room banging and vocalist John Tardy waits for the second track ‘Centuries of Lies’ to kick in before joining his warmed-up bandmates onstage. His brother and drummer Donald Tardy is unusually illuminated brightly under spotlights while the rest of the band perform in almost darkness as the set continues with three more tracks from their latest 2014 release Inked in Blood. “It’s always good to be in Dublin and intoxicated” John announces before launching into a breakneck rendition of ‘Intoxicated’. It is during Obituary that the crowd-surfing and moshing begins proper as the audience seem ready to let it loose. In an unusual change to the norm, the venue security insist on pushing the surfers back into the crowd rather than lifting them over the rail resulting in far more head-kickings than usual, but luckily there doesn’t seem to be any complaints as the entire crowd thoroughly enjoy the 45 minute performance by the Floridian five-piece. The biggest pit of the night erupts during their closing song ‘Slowly We Rot’, the title track from their 1989 debut album and Obituary receive the cheers and appreciation that they deserve for their rousing show.
Last, but certainly not least, it is time for the Liverpudlian legends to take the stage. As frontman Jeff Walker observes; “You wait 18 years to see Carcass live in Dublin, and then you get two shows in a year. At least this time we brought some good bands with us”. A pearly white drum kit, backdrop and dazzling spotlights create a sterile appearance reflecting the artwork on their 2013 “comeback album” Surgical Steel, from which their opening track ‘Unfit for Human Consumption’ is taken. The setlist is weighted in favour of newer tracks but also features older fan favourites like ‘Heartwork’ and ‘Corporal Jigsore Quandary’. As usual, Jeff has some witty anecdotes and observations to make between tracks. On one occasion he points out “the most un-chivalrous thing I have ever seen. I threw a guitar pick to a young lady in the front row, and some guy bent down to get it and kept it. I thought this was Dublin, not London”, he adds. He also recalls their first Dublin performance in former gig venue McGonacles and throws bottles of beer into the audience because of advice given to him by his mother; “It’s rude to drink alone. Now fuck off and go to school”. Carcass sound better than ever. The band look like they’re enjoying every minute, their performance is tight, Jeff’s voice suitably gravelly, and the fans are joining in at every opportunity. The set wraps up with ‘Mount of Execution’, and the crowd goes insane one last time. So ends the appropriately-titled Deathcrusher show in Dublin. Five awesome bands on a bank holiday weekend for 45 Euro thanks to DME promotions. Well worth the ticket price and well worth the wait. I for one hope to see more heavy shows in Vicar Street soon.