Words by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
With the Summer festival season a distant memory, the “Europe Under Attack” Tour hits Dublin hosted by German thrash metal veterans Destruction and their friends and equally legendary Flotsam & Jetsam, Enforcer, and Nervosa. The show has been highly anticipated, and the turnout at the Voodoo Lounge and the unusual sight of a pit barrier at the front of the stage in this intimate venue hint at the expectation of a serious night of blood, sweat and beers ahead.
Sadly, due to the early kick-off, we miss the debut Irish performance by Brazilian three-piece thrashers Nervosa, but have heard some mixed impressions by those who managed to get out of work in time to catch them. The fact that they are all-female was undoubtedly a break from the male-dominated world of thrash and likely to attract more than a little curiosity and interest.
The second band, on stage a little later than scheduled, and looking like they stepped right out of the eighties glam metal heyday are Swedish Enforcer. Formed in 2004 and considered to be part of the New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal (NWOTHM), the quartet is clad in as much leather, studs, eyeliner and dodgy tattoos as one might expect from Steel Panther, but without the piss-take. With plenty of gusto, they win over most of the willing audience with tracks like ‘Take Me Out of This Nightmare’, ‘Undying Evil’ and ‘Midnight Vice’.
It is surprisingly the first time in their 35 year career that Flotsam and Jetsam have come to Dublin and the reaction from the swelling crowd is proof that their visit is long overdue. Their set starts with ‘Seventh Seal’, the opening track from their as yet unreleased, eponymous twelfth studio album, followed by ‘Dreams of Death’, a track recorded almost three decades earlier. In fact, they reach all the way back to their 1986 debut album Doomsday for the Deceiver for ‘Hammerhead’ and ‘Desecrator’ (which, like most of the album, was co-written and features lyrics by Jason Newsted). Sole remaining original member and vocalist Eric A. Knutson has since seen the band through several personnel shuffles, and although the current lineup has been together for little over a year, they sound incredibly solid playing both new and old material. The old tracks are definitely the ones getting the crowd moshing hardest, however, and the pit gets quite unruly at times.
The quintet continue to entertain the throng of loyal fans with their 9 track set including three more brand new tracks; ‘Life is a Mess’, ‘Monkey Wrench’ and ‘Iron Maiden’, which is as much a nod to the British metal stalwarts as it is a song about the medieval torture device. Considering it was their first visit to Ireland, it is somewhat surprising that they do not focus more on classic tracks, but the only complaints to be heard are regarding the brevity of their set. There is surely appetite to see them return soon, perhaps after their US headline tour just announced for the tail end of 2016.
Running behind schedule, the final band of the night, Destruction take to the stage amid raucous cheers from the audience. Three microphone stands adorned with silver skulls are spread evenly across the front of the stage, somewhat surprisingly considering the band are a trio and the stage isn’t exactly vast. Red lights and billowing smoke accompany the trio’s entrance as they launch straight into ‘Under Attack’, the opening and title track of their new album, and after which the current tour is named. The mosh pits start instantaneously and the unexpected presence of the pit barriers is suddenly justified.
The last time we saw Destruction playing was in the Czech Republic a couple of months ago where they put on an elaborate visual show with scorching pyro, crazed butchers and buxom nurses chasing around the stage. Despite the recent enlargement of the stage in the Voodoo Lounge we never expected to see such spectacles here, but instead, the music speaks for itself and tracks like ‘Mad Butcher’ are just as well-received without the spectacle. Minor technical issues during the first few tracks come to a head when speakers stop working completely during ‘Dethroned’. Coincidentally, similar problems disrupted their set at Brutal Assault, but luckily they are resolved quickly and the band restarts the song. Next up is ‘Life Without Sense’ from their 1986 Sophomore album Eternal Devastation followed by ‘Total Desaster’ originally from their debut demo Bestial Invasion of Hell recorded in 1984 but played regularly since its re-release on All Hell Breaks Loose in 2000.
Frontman Schmier promises to play something they have never played in Ireland before and they deliver a thrashtastic rendition of ‘Invincible Force’. A two-track encore of ‘Thrash Till Death’ and ‘Bestial Invasion’ end the night, save for the Omen theme tune outro. The resurgence in old-school thrash and speed metal is undoubtedly still in full swing, and Dublin is loving it.