Express & Star

Napalm Death, Brujeria, Power Trip, Lock Up, O2 Institute, Birmingham - review

Early set times are the bane of many a live music fan (as well as ludicrously high beer prices), and sadly I missed the majority of grind kings Lock Up's short set.

Napalm Death

From what I did manage to hear the band was firing on all cylinders, with singer Kevin Sharp, who debuted with Lock Up on new album Demonization - a perfect fit.

Dallas thrashers Power Trip have gained a big reputation thanks to two corking albums on Southern Lord and an almost insatiable appetite for touring.

They've cut their teeth playing flea pits and basements and are now well on the way to establishing themselves in the big leagues.

And their old school thrash comes across perfectly on the Institute's large stage. A wild circle pit starts as soon as the opening notes of Soul Sacrifice hit and it doesn't let up until the end of set closer Manifest Decimation.

On a night where Donald Trump gets a fair few mentions, energetic singer Riley Gale prompts laughter when he quips: "You know what we do to presidents in Dallas, right?"

Executioner's Tax (Swing of the Axe) is hands down one of the great thrash anthem of the modern age, a song so damned good that even some of those among the large crowd who are old enough to know better enter the fray.

Then comes Brujeria, the mysterious grindcore grupo who may or may not be Mexican drug lords.

They have been around for nearly three decades but sights of them on the live circuit are about as rare as 'We love Trump' flags in Tijuana.

Now they are back, with their first album in 16 years Pocho Aztlan gleaning some decent reviews in the metal press.

Brujeria's set was nothing short of a triunfo.

Dual singers Juan and Pinche Peach - bandanas covering their faces like the rest of the band - own the stage

Marcha De Odio from 2000's Brujerizmo is utterly brilliant, as is new track Ángel de la frontera, a paean to former Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel's penchant for driving around Lozells in a banged up Vauxhall.

Amidst the old school grind there's an anthemic quality to some of Brujeria's songs that keeps the pit suitably frenzied for the duration of their set.

The track many among the crowd were calling for was last year's Billboard smash hit Viva Presidente Trump - which was preceded by a most unsavoury chant that Donald would almost certainly deride as fake news.

Matando Güeros sees an interesting prop appear on stage - a 20 inch machete to be precise - before the rest of the band clears off and Juan treats us to some impressive dance moves to La Macarena parody Marijuana. Fantástico.

Local legends Napalm Death need no introduction, but we get one anyway courtesy of affable frontman Barney Greenway.

"I suppose it is etiquette to say that we are Napalm Death...from Great Barr, Walsall and f**king Sparkhill!!"

And with that we're on our way.

Anyone who has seen Napalm over the years knows exactly what to expect. We get oldies such as the title track from 1988 classic From Enslavement To Obliteration and Suffer the Children from third full length Harmony Corruption.

Then there's the real oldies - Scum and the obligatory one second masterpiece You Suffer, after which Greenway mischievously bellows "Concentrate!" at the crowd.

Twist the Knife from Fear, Emptiness and Despair and Christening of the Bind from Utopia Banished race by.

It is astonishing to think that all of these are at least two decades old, while some of them have been knocking around for more than 30 years.

Shane Embury, who must have been absolutely shattered by this point as he played his third set of the night, appeared to have a second wind and showed no signs of his earlier exertions.

Greenway is his usual animated self, a mixture of super charged political rants and jovial chatter with the crowd.

We are treated to a quickfire trio of covers - The Offenders' Face Down in the Dirt, Dead Kennedys' Nazi Punks, and Hate, Fear and Power from Hirax, which Greenway admits stretches his vocal chords to their limit.

Katon would be proud.

With the set cut short due to time constraints, the band leaves us with Adversarial/Copulating Snakes before disappearing off into the Brum night.

Hometown gigs are becoming less frequent for Napalm these days, but when the do play the second city it is always a night to treasure.