Words by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
Almost exactly a year after they supported Nuclear Assault on their Final Assault on Europe Tour, Irish thrashers Gama Bomb are back in Dublin to headline their own show. Accompanying them once more are last year’s Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses winners Animator, and Bray Area Thrashers Hollow Truth (a clever pun there).
We arrive at the intimate On The Rox venue in time to catch Animator stoke the fires of an already warmed-up crowd, and despite having seen these four lads perform several times, our interest has not waned. Sounding tighter than ever, they open with the anarchic ‘In God We Trust’ which as always, sees vocalist James Doughty illicit crowd participation during the chorus, and the faithful following duly obey. He paces the stage as if consumed by a rage against society and oppression, and the first three tracks run into each other without pause. Their eight song setlist featuring at least two brand new tracks from a forthcoming EP gets a great reaction from the building audience.
By the time Gama Bomb take their places, there is barely room to move in front of the tiny stage, and it seems that many have made a point to welcome the under-appreciated thrashers at this hometown show (as frontman Philly Byrne is quick to point out). ‘Zombie Blood Nation’ is the first of more than twenty short-lived, fast-paced thrash numbers, frequently interrupted by light-hearted banter between Philly and the equally jovial audience. Wearing a shiny studded denim vest and Ray-Bans, Philly is promptly quizzed as to the whereabouts of his trademark pineapple trousers by one forthright fan and instructed to tell jokes by another. The craic continues throughout the show, and Philly casually mentions that they recently returned from performing in South America where they either needed to speak really bad Spanish, or really slow English, so it was great to be able to speak in his native brogue.
The five full-length releases spanning the decade since the release of their debut studio album are all represented in tonight’s setlist. ‘Avenge Me!’, ‘Drinkers, Inc.’, ‘Raging Skies’, ‘Ride the Night’, ‘Tuck Your T-Shirt in’ and the pseudo title track ‘Ninja Untouchables’ from their 2015 record Untouchable Glory all getting a welcome airing. There are plenty of regular tracks and fan favourites including ‘Hammer Slammer’, ‘Mussolini Mosh’ and the ridiculously short RoboCop-inspired ‘OCP’, but also some rarer treats like ‘Final Fight’ and ‘Atomizer’. The thrash classics get crazy pits circling in the tiny floor space and one brave soul even attempts a stage dive and crowd-surf.
There’s no denying that old school thrash is alive and well, and Gama Bomb would certainly draw a crowd given more opportunity. We’ll see you there!