Napalm Death + Voivod + guests @ Club Soda, Montreal – 6th February 2015

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Black Crown Initiate were already mid-set by the time I battled my way through the entrance, passed the ill-placed mandatory coat check and around the punters gathered around the merchandise tables, looking to add to their tee-shirt and vinyl collections, into the foray. This is a great club, but it really needs to have itself a little rethink on its lay-out, especially when it comes to vacating the joint. Getting out of Club Soda following a gig is an exercise in patience and dexterity at the best of times, but take into consideration the extra layers we adorn to keep warm during the frozen tundra months, and the mandatory coat check, and you’ve got yourself a tunnel of drunken nuts, funnelling out like molasses through a urethra.

The second group to climb up on stage were Iron Reagan, who were perhaps the better band of the night. Sure, Napalm Death and Voivod are legends and rightfully so, having each played their parts as pioneers and innovators of their genres, and Reagan are merely continuing along a path long ago laid, but that doesn’t mean they don’t breathe fresh air into the gene pool. Originally comprised of members of Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour, and like those bands, Reagan play with balls to the wall. Equal parts Hardcore, Thrash and fun. “This next one is about lives, all of us” yelled vocalist Tony Foresta , “its called ‘Miserable Failure’!”

Exhumed were next, this time having made it over the Canadian-American border that has been a source of frustration for music fans for decades. Touring in support of the new record, which is really a re-issue of their debut and the punchline to a joke the group told on stage. Long gone are the years where an Exhumed set would consist of animal intestines splattered across the drums or members forcing themselves to vomit on stage each and every night on tour, but the intensity never left. The stench they leave behind these days is that of burnt gasoline from the chainsaw yielding maniac that assaults the stage every night rather than that of the insides of a once living creature. My, how the times change.

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Leading up to the day of the gig, people seemed unsure as to whom would play headliner for Voivod’s homecoming, and that question was swiftly answered as the Quebecers strolled out to the adoring cheer of the Montreal faithful. Forever lords of the immense heavy music scene in this city, having put it on the map so to speak, Voivod received a heroes welcome. The crowd, many of us now sporting salt and pepper crops where long hair once prevailed, continued to display their loyalty to the band that in turn repaid them with another solid romp through the classics and new material alike. New bassist in tow, and a nod to the late Piggy, Voivod were a trip down memory lane.

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No spring chickens were to be found in the Mitch Harris-less Napalm Death either – who have been a band longer than many in attendance on the night have been alive; including one young lady whom attempted on several occasions to lure Barney Greenway by aiming her barely clad groin strategically towards the singer, crowd surfing with legs akimbo. Barney was having none of it and went as far as to decline an embrace from the young temptress later in the set. Greenway has more pressing matters to attend to, such as grinding ears and laying waste to political wrongs.

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I wondered if there would be any mention of his attempts at saving the life of a Briton imprisoned in Malaysia (?) but that didn’t transpire. Covering everything from ‘Scum’ and ‘Harmony Corruption’ all the way up to their newest record, “Apex Predator – Easy Meat”, which was just days old at the time. Hard to believe that this is the group’s sixteenth studio recording.

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Greenway promised that the addition of Brutal Truth’s Erik Burke would provide “some snazzy shit”, and that was the case. Ripped renditions of classics like “I, Abstain” and “Suffer The Children”, “Plague Rages” and off course “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”, which at this point may as well have been written by Napalm Death, seeing as they have probably played it live more often by now than the originators, the Dead Kennedys.

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Napalm Death always seem to play within a similar formula and those that attend their shows always know what they are in for – after three decades, it is unlikely that will change. Brilliant, as always.

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What all these bands have in common, is there appeal to both the metal and punk kids, looking to bridge scenes, having also had the likes of Dayglo Abortions on the bill for a few shows on the other side of the continent. Without dating myself, I can clearly recall the days when punks and metalheads didn’t gel well with one another, and a tour that aimed its sights on bringing both crowds together would have been a miserable failure, despite the two genres not really being that far apart. More and more, the kids are united. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Review – Kieron Yates
Photos – Steve Gerrard

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