Punk Online


napalm-death21.04.16 AGORA BALLROOM, CLEVELAND

For the second time in 6 months, I found myself in Cleveland on a dreary Thursday night with nothing to do. A quick check of the excellent Bandsintown App let me know that the legendary Napalm Death were in town with the equally legendary Melvins. Having missed Barney and the boys in Oakland last year, I snapped up a ticket and trundled over to the Agora Theater, a venue with a very long history and got there just in time to see Buzz Osborne’s iconic grey mane wander onto the stage. Strangely, 6 months ago, The Melvins were the band playing at Cleveland’s Grog Shop when I was last in town. They were electric that night making more noise than should be possible for a 3-piece.

There was a huge crowd (I estimated over a thousand punters) head banging, moshing, swaying and clapping along to a 50 minute set. The set included A Growing Disgust, Magic Pig Detective and Revolve but felt more like a co-headline than a support band. By the time Napalm Death’s bassist Shane Embury joined the band on stage to end the set with Night Goat The Melvins were whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Given that their latest album features all 5 of their bassists, it was appropriate that Embury would add a second bass to that of ex Redd Kross bassist Steven Shane McDonald. For me though, drummer Dale Crover was the highlight of the performance holding together the complex songs with aplomb. The Melvins are very popular in these parts and this was evidenced by the crowd thinning out after their set.


Napalm Death are enjoying one of the most commercially successful periods of their long career with last years Apex Predator album being their best selling release ever. The boys from Birmingham wandered on stage with no pretense of rock stars and launched into a set that married songs from Apex with some classics from the “good ole days” with a couple of covers thrown in. Barney is a manic frontman with the appearance of a bank manager and the vocal delivery of a 1000 angry wolves. His conversation between songs is political, humorous and adds to the discombobulating experience that is Napalm Death. They make an almighty noise but come across as real gentle blokes. Highlights for me were Scum, Apex Predator, Mentally Murdered and Smash a single digit. All were delivered with a power and a passion that is hard to match. They played a cover of Conform by seminal grindcore band, Siege.


Barney announced that the guitarist was a “stand in” and I didn’t catch his name but he shredded like a veteran whilst Embury was in classic form givin the crowd the thumbs up and then pounding his bass like it was a thing he wanted to destroy. Backed by the double bass drum pounding of Danny Herrera, Napalm Death live are a show and a relentless assault on your senses…they continue to pioneer and they are enjoying sell out shows and adoring crowds as they cross America. My ears are still ringing and I’m still smiling.

Stumpy – Punk Online