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Live Review- Napalm Death, w/ The Golers, Zukuss and Gross Misconduct
Thursday, October 27, 2011
The Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver, B.C.

The opening bands were a fairly standard array of local talent. The first band, Gross Misconduct, performed a solid set of thrash, but lacked in conviction or presence. They need to remedy their charisma deficit. Second on the bill was Zuckuss, who played a blistering blast of grind that suffers that common grind flaw: none of their material is memorable in the least, buried as it is in speed and short songs. There isn’t enough time to get a Zuckuss riff stuck in your head.

Then The Golers came on and actually warmed up the crowd. This is a band that honestly deserves to be much more of a name on the global metal scene. Their blend of thrash, speed, and death metal is as rare as it is skillfully executed. Simply put, The Golers are far more than just a local metal band- they kill at what they do. Even a band as passionate and energetic as The Golers had nothing on the headliners though.

Napalm Death hit the stage like a bomb, and delivered a relentless set of death/grindcore comprised of new material from their most recent album (the absolutely skull-crushing Time Waits For No Slave), classics from across their career and a few cover tracks.

Grindcore is an odd genre. In a twist of irony so severe it’s basically straight up hypocrisy, this most brutal of metal styles takes an extremely delicate touch to get right. Too fast and too short, no one will remember anything and it becomes disposable. Too slow and too long, it’s not grindcore anymore. The balance point is rarely achieved, but Napalm Death has long mastered the exact mix- and they showed their dominance in style.

Vocally, Barney is at the top of his game. He’s achieved a horrifying degree of vicious passion, and lately his range has improved as well. The man just bludgeons the listener with his voice. Complementing this perfectly is guitarist Mitch Harris’ accent backing vocal shrieks, which are reminiscent of Alan Dubin of OldLadyDrivers (Remember them?). The twin juggernaught of Embury on bass and Herrera on drums is an intestine-shaking force- it was simply awe-inspiring to witness.

Vancouver ate it up too. The crowd at the newly renovated Rickshaw Theater was near capacity, the pit was relentlessly violent, and there was even some crowd surfing (something that seems rare at Vancouver metal shows these days). It was good to see, especially when we were treated to such gems as a Cryptic Slaughter cover (no one ever gives these guys the credit they deserve for their influence on Grindcore music), a Siege cover, and a Dead Kennedys cover, not to mention the sneak peek at the new Napalm Death album, in the form of the new track, “Quarantine”. Judging from this song, it sounds very much like Time Waits For No Slave wasn’t just a one-off fluke in Napalm’s history.

A superb show, one that easily eclipses their gig at the New York Theatre with Carcass, Cathedral, and Brutal Truth (the last time this particular reviewer saw them). This is how it should be, bands getting better and better, not peaking and coasting on “they-were-awesome-when” memories.

By Keith Durocher

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