I had been warned that this gig had an early start with the doors opening at 5.00 p.m. and first band Herod coming on stage at 5.30 p.m. I arrived at the photograph pit at 5.10 p.m. to set up my gear, and was instantly warned of a time change. Herod would now be on stage at 5.15 p.m. Well, I had arrived on time…

Herod jumped on stage in front of the few hundred people who had been able to make this early slot. If the Death Crusher tour had been a little bit earlier, it would have been eligible for matinee status. Some would say that being first on at this time iwas unfortunate, but not Herod. With their own distinctive brand of heavy/thrash metal, they brought all of the still small audience down to the front of the stage.

Next up were Canadian progressive/speed metal thrashers Voivod.

After a long and distinctive career, Voivod could have easily settled in favour playing a set of old and trusted crowd pleasers, but not on this occasion. Their emphasis was clearly on showcasing new material, and this was not only delivered by a band that played with conviction but were clearly enjoying themselves, which was not lost on the ever-expanding crowd. It was not long before the first meaningful mosh pit of the evening exploded. Lead singer Denis Belanger covered every inch of the stage, showing boundless and relentless energy, while the rest of his group provided a backdrop of anarchic heavy metal that confirmed that Voivod are as exceptional as they are current.

Napalm Death began with a slowly constructed crescendo, successfully creating an atmosphere you knew wouldn’t last. It was like watching a car crash in slow motion. You were waiting for the impact and you knew then that was when the chaos would begin. From the back of the stage entered Mark ”Barney” Greenway bellowing at the top of his voice, "This is a song about people who have to live in stinking holes, both literally and figuratively, under the fucking Tory government. It's called ‘Cesspits’.” Then the carnage began. Known for their brutal hardcore punk/grinding metal live sound, the band drove on into a 45 minute adrenalin-filled set.

The pace was relentless. You had to grab a breath when you could. The venue was now packed. The mosh pit was large and constantly on the move. Arms were in the air, hands all showing the sign of the horn. Mayhem ensued. The crowd surfers began to land in the pit. The set contained such classics as ‘Silence is Deafening’, ‘Scum’ and ‘How the Years Condemn’, and the intro to ‘Suffer Little Children’ (which was written 25 years ago) got the biggest response of the night.

The band received an appreciative reaction to their cover of ‘Nazis Punks Fuck Off’ by the Dead Kennedys. Napalm Death left the stage wishing the now large crowd love and peace, clearly revelling in the response of an audience who for several minutes afterwards continued to chant “Napalm Death! Napalm Death!”

Fourth on the bill was Obituary. Frontman John Tandy patiently bided his time to make his entrance, waiting for the band’s signature duelling guitars to re-ignite the easily excited audience. There was no doubt by the amount of T-shirts on display that this was the group a lot had come to see. They did not disappoint, as crowd surfing broke out across the venue.

The final act of the evening were headliners Carcass. By this time in the proceedings and after the onslaught of sets delivered by Napalm Death and Obituary, some bands would be a little apprehensive that maybe the crowd could have burnt themselves out and become a little subdued, especially as much of the audience was older. Many have beards longer than their hair and quite a large proportion were around when the majority of these bands, such as Napalm Death who are now over thirty years old, formed.

Carcass set about showing why they were chosen to headline, opening with an instrumental, and bringing to the fore their own distinctive brand of melodic metal, briefly stopping to introduce tracks, continuing headlong into a set delivered and appreciated by a crowd who I have no doubt would have been here even if it was a matinee show.

Death Crusher had provided a showcase that confirmed that heavy metal is alive and in a good state.

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Commenting On: (With , Herod, Voivod, Obituary and Carcass), Ritz, Manchester, 30/10/2015 - Napalm Death

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