Live Review: Corrupt Moral Altar @ The Packhorse, Leeds, 16/11/2013

+ DSDNT + Famine + Corinth

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We made our way up the stairs of The Packhorse and edged along sideways into the top room as is necessary if more there’s more than ten people present at the Packhorse. We were already amidst the sounds of the first band Corinth, who contrasted to the blunt aggression and abrasive nature of the other bands. The songs travel through several different sub genres with a subtlety that keeps the sound of the band distinct, Crowbar-esque melodies complete with Windstein-esque vocal strains transcend into something more like the hypnotic rhythm of atmospheric black metal. The theme in the mutation of every sound; through the psychedelic, to the thrash injected, is a backbone of solid leaden doom, which keeps a satisfying power throughout the well crafted songs. Corinth are hefty as they are eloquent, like a terrible crushing river of through a lovely water colour.

After seeking some respite and drink downstairs, it was to our horror we found the bar area entirely ridden with the type of student that thinks it’s funny to dress up as Where’s Wally with a fucking inflatable beach toy wrapped around them. I fought my way past and hoped to God that come some over-priced generic cunt parade like ‘Carnage‘, the poor bastards would be ushered through the most shameless and faceless clubs of Leeds. After being forced into drinking copious amounts of dodgy vodka they would look into the abyss of their own souls, and decide to stop being pricks, or subject themselves to a lifetime of solitude.

There are probably not so many images out there that would set me up so well for the audio grit flinging of Famine, who launch into spats of super violence coming in at around a minute per bout, torn from an unsuspecting three piece. Pissed off as they come, simplicity is the biggest weapon. Bass that sounds like a wasp the size of a truck in a tin can buzzes angrily through the mix and drops into grooves like two gorillas playing swingball with a brick covered in nails. Dismay and frustration-addled vocal barrages are a dual assault tear their own rhythms’ into the grooves fuelling a furnace of complete terror. If we were not so nice or boring, the crowd would be gouging at each other’s eyes and hauling the clientele up from below to attack with our teeth. As it is, we stand subjected to pure fuel for everything great in chaos and stand still sweating for fear of inadvertently tearing the venue apart.

DSDNT are up next with a brand of hardcore soaked negative strained paranoid energy. The four piece churn out groove not too far from Napalm Death with the same style of raged punctuating vocals. This flies by in a dystopian vision; discordant, psychologically damaged jittering that keeps you on your toes whilst shredding in and out of minor abrasion and warped groove. The effect over all is a disturbing and edgy momentum that doesn’t stray too far but successfully obliterates any positive vibe you might be clinging too.

As student loans change hands and people attempt new personas with frightening intensity at the bar downstairs, a different more honest transcendence is ready to take place in the jammed-tight room above. Like the feeling of a thousand trapped nerves Corrupt Moral Altar aren’t something you can ignore; this is something you know whilst stood in front of the band, but it also explains their quickly earned popularity and reputation over the past year that’s also seen two releases. The audio violation is raw energy from the moment the band open up with a tirade of blood vessel popping shrieks and breakneck rhythmic dozing. It would be an easy thing to put CMA within the confines of grind, with the use of frequent barrages of bouncing intensity and relentless vocals, but the omnipotent charge that buzzes from the stage and your gut is created by the effective use of simplicity with creative rhythm. This comes from their homage to the word ‘sludge’, which is something far more local and refreshing than an identity crisis and southern drawl. The crushing Iron Monkey throwdowns are a key theme throughout the set which for made me wish that the gig had a different less confined environment, or that people cared a little less. It’s precisely the kind of thing you should be losing your shit to; as a crawl of malicious notes explode into a snarling, titanic groove. CMA feel like the kind of thing that doesn’t come around too often. Not that they’re doing something unheard of but for the fact it comes off with honesty and a vicious bile that’s good for the soul.

Michael Collins

Go follow C.L.D.H!

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We’re proud to announce that we’re in league with Manchester-based promotions crew C.L.D.H, who want to share, create, distribute and enjoy the best in heavy music, dark artwork and alternative culture. Their force includes Michael Collins who additionally writes for We Must Obey and leads on vocals/bass for doom trio Wort, as well as Foetal Juice vocalist and all round nice chap Sam Read. Go follow them. Now!

Peter Clegg

We Must Obey – Two years!

Well, we made it. We limped a bit towards this date, but we made it.

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Yes, We Must Obey is two years old today! Wow, it feels like a long time ago when we started, but despite remaining a small unit, with an increasing workload thanks to the bands, labels and PR firms that fuel this blog, and

Who to thank? Well I must start with the main people who fuel the fire of this blog. These people being Lauren Barley at Rarely Unable, Kim Kelly at Catharsis PR, Chris at Witch Hunter Records, all of whom are among those who continue to furnish us with the latest output and generally show us the love. Paul Priest and Raw Nerve Zine who really went as all out as we did in support of our promotion of ‘kin Hell Fest and hopefully this is an event and indeed a scene you’ll hear a lot more of. Cheers again to Chris Fane for finally providing us with a logo – if only WordPress had a theme as evil and as accommodating of them as possible for us to display them in their full glory. That’s something to continue to work on. Thank you as well to all the bands and label heads who continue to send things my way. I’m sorry if I can’t remember you all by name but you’re too numerous to mention, and you will at some point have seen your name appear here. And if you’re still among those waiting for a review of your submission to appear, I do apologise. The last month or so in particular has been mental, to say the least, and we do aim to catch up. Thanks for not badgering me.

I must also thank Michael Collins for his continued, if fleeting, correspondence for We Must Obey. He’s been here from the start and continues to be most interesting and entertaining in his views, all while continuing to front his current doom band Wort (shameless plug) and while being a part of the Manchester-based promotions crew CLDH, whom you all keep an eye on too.

And of course, anyone who follows our site, be it through Facebook, Twitter, or you dedicated souls on WordPress who continue to pick up our feed on the Reader. Keep putting the word out there folks,

If I’ve forgotten anyone, I do apologise and I assure you that whoever you are, you’ve been a part of this awesome experience and though its getting more and more stressful trying to keep up to date with this in the wake of family matters, new personal interests, my day job and various other things, I will press on with continuing to highlight the very best –and occasionally the worst – our beloved underground scene, from the UK shores to all over the world. And occasionally, we’ll debate, approve, upset, and maybe even surprise.

Peter Clegg

‘Kin Hell Fest 2013 – The Review! – Saturday 27th April

Click here for full review of Friday 26th April
Click here for full review of Sunday 28th April

Saturday 27th April

I set off on the walk back from the rooms we stayed at about 11:30 am. A car drives past me and swerves to travel through a large puddle, soaking me from head to toe. Feeling completely broken, we stop at a cafe to regather with a full English breakfast. It doesn’t work, so we make our way back to the venue in obligation and because I didn’t have a gun to shoot myself in the head. Slumped against a wall trying to prop myself up, I reluctantly await an onslaught of death metal. After getting back to the jam rooms the night before I found a corner in which I tried in vain to sleep. I watched the ceiling swim around while four un-intelligible Geordies had a snoring competition and occasionally tried to wake their friend for ketamine. I did not feel good, but one must persevere, and I was safe in the knowledge others were in the same boat.

Never the less, there’s a decent crowd assembled for the first band Masochist, who break the reluctant atmosphere with straight up death metal. It’s nothing new but there’s a good old school element to it and some good groove to get into. The frontman attempts to bring some animation to the gray faced crowd; “turn to the person on your right and shake their hand”, I cautiously eye my neighbour and take a step away, “now is not the time for the affection of strangers, now is the time for the proper observation on personal space”, I’m sure he understood. Masochist finish their assault and although people retreat to various dark corners, the day is starting to look promising with a steady stream of arrivals and the emergence of some yellow heat giving foreign object in the sky.

There is no remorse for those still feeling sensitive as Nu, Pogodi! take to the stage. This band should be predominantly credited first of all for remembering all their lyrics. Mid barrage, they must be going at least 1000 words per second. Utilizing an intense duel vocal barrage, the three piece bash out simplistic crusty riffs while the savaging beast occasionally turns into a very Sabbathian creature, slow and menacing, which mixes it up well. The lyrical content and stance of the band (explained between tracks) is cliché but correctly highlights some misogynistic views within the metal scene. How ironic it would be for the track ‘Fuck my Womb’ to be taken as anything but symbolic.

I walk outside and buy some cans of Stella from the commendably priced bar; gruelling work to get it down, but if there was any hope of feeling reasonable again, the answer’s somewhere at the bottom of one of these things. As I get back to the venue I’m greeted by series of strange electronic loops with bizarrely out of context monologue, seemingly powered by a sonic teapot; it’s time for things to get weird with Sloth Hammer. The band’s faces are all concealed, most wearing balaclavas with the exception of one member, wearing a gory pig mask and overalls. This porcine individual walked out into the crowd holding various pieces of drum kit, which he proceeded to hit as hard as he could with other pieces of unfortunate drum kit, as people around him looked apprehensively and flinched. There’s rattling bass that growls over harsh teapot noise picking up into evil doom rhythms, then accentuated by a double percussive assault, plus our piggy friend. I can honestly say I’ve never been subjected to such an odd musically orientated spectacle, made all the more surreal by the naked drummers who made visual contributions by putting socks on their nobs.

Time to soak in the heavy grooves of the BongCauldron. Massive Iron Monkey style throw downs punch out of more THC stewed lethargies or upbeat tight rock outs. The large hairy man at the front of the stage occasionally bellows about getting pissed and what not. It’s very satisfying and tightly executed, heavy but fun. Everyone in the crowd nods their heads enthusiastically safe in the knowledge that the next riff will be just as fucking catchy and large, I expect that you will see a great deal more of these riff demons in the near future.

Uplifted by the sounds of Bongcauldron and feeling better for guzzling, we’re thrown back into a pit of spikes with Prolefeed. Wide eyed crust punk relentlessly mauls any complacency giving us a good dose of thought crime. Leaning towards old school crust punk Doom vibes, its evidence that melody can work in true aggressive music; a great set and something that’s not done as much at the moment.

After soaking sun to help with the ongoing healing process its back into the cave for Regurgitate Life. The one man effort entails an endless string of breakneck widdlies and “ORGHHH”, to the drum machines obscure timings coming through the PA. Very impressive musicianship with absolute berzerkery, which didn’t honestly come that easy to listen to.

There’s a large crowd assembled for thrash-infused death metallers Cancerous Womb from Scotland, and there’s the first taste of good spirited violence in the crowd that sets precedent for the rest of the night. Chaos is fun and Cancerous Womb have got it as well as quality tracks. Who wouldn’t be charmed by such lovely titles as ‘Torn from Gunt to Cunt’?

Whilst plying myself with vodka outside some malignant noise spills from the stage (This noise belongs to Ishmael – PC). Notes linger with cavernous openings before striking again in discontent, with the precision of a giant cog fitting its next groove in some monolithic despicable machine. The pace is slow, titanicly hellish with harsh screams as a constant and bleak background. Absorbed in negativity, the crowd gaze on and sink into the floor. In a good way, probably.

Flayed Disciple is a tirade of palm muted thrashy death, energetic palm muted riffs with guttural vocals about killing people and jizzing on them, the kind of thing exclusive to this quaint genre. They actually sound to me like a death metal version of early Megadeth.

Rickenbacker and Flares in tow Asomvel wear their influences on their sleeves and keep it light hearted. Bass lines from somewhere in Motörhead’s back catalogue are as punchy and in your face as you’d hope while there’s almost a constant wah wah blues solo coming from the flares in the corner. A great deal of fun to watch and different to the rest of the bill. “We’ve got one more before you dullards get back to your grindcore or whatever it is you listen to now”. ‘Ace of Spades’ was requested for this finale.

I looked up, and there before me was a Pale Horse, its rider was named Death and Hades was following close behind him”. If death didn’t like Johnny Cash and wanted to announce the arrival of the apocalypse less subtly, Palehorse would be suitable. Ground shaking low end provided by the two bassists is accompanied by the ominous drones of an organ synth, the player of which occasionally looks upwards and screams into a microphone. While the crowd collide viciously with each other a man with a bald spherical head and glasses attempts to keep upright in the middle as he shrieks and nasally preaches anxiety and despair as though from a blasphemous pulpit. An all around ugly experience, with fat rolling vibrations.

Alkerdeel bring harsh, minimalistic and bleak atmospheres with frantic vocalised desperation and the occasional Darkthrone esque groove dropped in. Unfortunately the sound was way off and it was difficult to make out any of the guitar, from outside I initially thought a doom band was on stage, the low end was so prominent. I’d like to catch this lot again for that reason.

I’m a fan of any band that have a track called ‘Can I Have 20p For a Cup of Tea’?, regardless of what they sound like, but as it happens The Afternoon Gentlemen, are one of the best grind bands around. The Leeds based pissheads combine blastery with groove that you’ll likely be spitting blood to. Tonight’s no exception; punk fuelled razor sharp power violence nastiness.

For a short break I decide to take a short walk in the moonlight, take in the beautiful sights, smells and sounds of the Templeworks car parks and have three, yes fucking three double vodkas spilt by various clumsy cunts that polluted my vicinity. During my anguish, the horrific sounds of a man drowning in tar reached my ears, upon further investigation I realised the noise was in fact, Rompeprop. Guttural simplistic grind and a good deal of banter make this band lots of fucking fun in between sustaining injuries and finding yourself on the floor. It must be said that at this point, the night takes a certain nostalgic haze for some reason or another, but I do remember the crowd bouncing to the jiggery like lunatics.

My night ended here with me having to leg it for the train at this point whilst simultaneously trying to keep a large quantity of liquid inside my body and realising I’m horribly unfit, so unfortunately Acoustic Womb, were missed, although I’m assured it was beautiful.

I’ll bet by this point Paul Priest hears people saying thanks in his sleep but it’s certainly deserved with effort gone through to make ‘Kin Hell Fest number II such a success, and creating a proper festival vibe at the well suited Templeworks. Well played all who contributed.

Michael Collins

Click here for full review of Friday 26th April
Click here for full review of Sunday 28th April

Live Review: The Great Old Ones @ The Kraak Gallery, Manchester, 06/01/2013

Supported by Terzij de Horde, Burial + Wode

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In the dark intertwining back alleys of the Northern Quarter its safe to say I’ve lost faith in locating my destination. “I’ve fucking been to the place twice before”, it doesn’t help, the area is completely non descript. Luckily, before too long a man apparently sat in the middle of an alley sees our predicament and points at the venue about 5 feet away. How the hell would you know it’s here? No sign or acknowledgment of existence beyond a black door in a black alley of a side street. The Kraak Gallery is already fairly busy with a mix of people, ranging from trendy looking folk with hair from the 40’s and shirts that would make better curtains to a man who appears to have lost his way whilst hunting large game. The roof is draped with cargo netting and a ram’s skull sits on top of the drum kit, looking off the currently vacant stage as people stand idly or sit on the strategically placed couches waiting for the first band WODE.

The four piece from Manchester have an unrefined and elemental sound that fits well with the different aspects of their sound. Bastardized punk noise breaks up bleak and hypnotic interludes, for a minute or so at a time lulling, droning riffs with cold melodies and almost lethargic rhythms in the vein of Drudkh or Walknut absorb your consciousness, before being snapped back to the living with a more obnoxious kick of old school black metal punk fueled aggression, vocals drowned in filth and reverb. The crowd look transfixed for the entire set ands it’s apparent why. Despite not being around all that long or being very vocal about their goings on, (online at least) the band seem to have people interested. My only previous experience of the band was a gig at the Ducey Bridge, where it was so loud I thought I could feel the end of my spinal column wobbling my brain, and the only thing to be heard was a dull feedback that seemed to be coming from my chest. I’m glad to say with the band playing at sonic levels compatible with humans, they played a high quality set with a freshness that will hopefully continue vitalizing the UK black metal scene.

Veterans of the underground Burial are next to shake things up, injecting a significant amount of brutality to the night. Shredded minor chords, vaguely human twisted vocals and a relentless percussive assault paint a picture of morbid terror before being wrenched into heavy, ominous stabbing groove, that could pulp flesh into snotty little pieces of quivering meat, dragging you through the audio equivalent of murder on acid. That doesn’t sound very nice you might think, well, it isn’t, and that’s what’s nice about it.

A guilty pleasure of watching the ‘orrible trio was some trendy looking fellow that shouldn’t have bothered pretending to be interested in music for the night getting up on stage, unaware that his obnoxious and foolish behavior would see him ejected from it, quite violently. He hit the floor in front of the crowd with all the dignity of our scaly sea dwelling brothers, he got himself up, feigned aggression and skulked away quietly, realizing his existence was that of a fashionably dressed, well groomed exterior.

Although not attracting quite as much attention as some of the other bands, Burial’s loyal base of ferocity loving blackened death nuts were ever present, as is going to be the case with a gig like this in Manchester. The band’s material from their new album stood out as exceptionally grim and viscous in the overall destruction of their set. Purchase it and be smite into hell fire.

Terzij De Horde are a discordant bunch from Holland, with a style that would struggle to be any more oppressive. The negativity in their noise, projected through tangible distortion, is a mix of doom paced misery that plods, portentous, into frantic deranged riffing. When the band changes the pace there’s a strong punk influence but this doesn’t lose the apocalyptic vibe that the slower section’s builds. The vocals are all out continuous savagery for the entirety. The structures of the songs are similar in the way they mix between looming misery and then back into chaos, projecting the image of a joyless utopia that has an increasing number of people absorbed.

The band close with a song in tribute to H.P Lovecraft and as a introduction to The Great Old Ones, the band whom they’ve toured with. The bands compliment each other’s styles without treading on each other, Terzij being on the rougher, nastier side of things.

The Great Old Ones collect themselves on stage and play a simple introduction involving one guitar and effect that would be fitting for a decent, downwards, through endless pitch black narrow stairwells, into the weird and horrifying world of H.P Lovecraft. Despite there being three guitars in total when they kick in, the sound is clear and precise in timing. The layers are well utilized, frequently playing three different things at once. This doesn’t complicate the sound though, there’s no competing or over complicating needlessly with melodies and leads, the only crowding being in a physical sense on stage, maybe dodging the odd headstock. The band play music that building up, transcends to a powerful level using the layers of guitar and crashing drums; the crescendo comes and then fades away to minimalist foreboding notes and chords rung out into nothing. The style, although relevant of black metal, probably owes more to “post” styles, which is still too much of a generalization for the dynamics of the band. The dual attack of vocals are tortured rasps that fit well and emphasize the music; unfortunately lyrically I’m lost, but The Great Old Ones capture an atmosphere that could easily represent one of Lovecraft’s desolate and ancient cities, harboring all sorts of mind-fucking weirdness and malignancy.

The shouts for one more at the end of the night spoke for the quality of the band and the night in general at a great little venue that should be better used. People left happy and drunk, spilling across the various surrounding bars while I was forced to consider a far more evil prospect, waking at 7.30 to go to work after two weeks off, a terrible end to an awesome night.

Michael Collins

Originally published for ‘CLDH’.Check them out here

Click here to view photos from the night (Facebook)

Live Review: Immortal Technique @ Manchester Academy 2

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At the O2 Academy on the 28th of October I finally find myself in attendance of Immortal Technique, the hip hop artist, humanitarian and political activist. Born in a Peruvian military hospital and raised in Harlem, New York, he spent a year incarcerated as a young adult which affected his lifestyle and musical direction. He has most recently built an orphanage in Afghanistan from the proceeds of his album ‘The Third World‘.

We head to the bar and wait as the two Union bar staff try and cater to about five hundred thirsty attendees which means there’s plenty of time to absorb some differences in the environment. The crowd present isn’t the usual sea of black t shirts, long hair and misery that I usually find myself a part of when waiting around for metal bands. There’s wide diversity, though true to the vision in my head many of the crowd are wearing baseball caps, baggy gaudy t-shirts and those shiny denim pants. Grating, thick Manchester accents cut through the air as well as over generously applied after shave, the perpetrator of which brushes at the lingering white powder on an inner nostril . While a few things like this stand out to someone like me, apprehensions are quickly forgotten as we enter the venue.

Having heard the support prior at some point I wasn’t really interested but caught 20 minutes of Poison Pen anyway. About 5 minutes into which, I started wishing we’d somehow delayed ourselves further. The songs were mainly unintelligible but the parts I could make out made my guts try to eat themselves. I don’t mind some of the collaborations done with Immortal Technique and I have to presume these guys must have some qualities off stage. The lack of flow, pointless bravado and chanting “I’ll break your face” repeatedly only made me contemptuous of them and anyone nodding along in some Grand Theft Auto inspired fantasy world. 

Immortal Technique introduces himself to the crowd, building atmosphere and saying that he wanted energy despite us being “really high or drunk out our minds”. ‘The Martyr’, title track of the new album opens and Technique’s passion is projected to the crowd in his distinct gravelly but coherent tone with ease. The track has likely been inspired by his recent trip to Afghanistan, the lyrics speak of the histories and contributing factors behind what might be mistaken as recently problematic scenarios. 

Technique is naturally at ease with the crowd; there’s a lack of pretence that’s inclusive and brings about a general comradery and positive atmosphere. The use of humour is consistent, intertwined with serious elements keeping things laid back. “Raise your shitty phone in the air for this one, don’t be ashamed of your cheap ass fuckin’ phone”, is the introduction for ‘Toast to the Dead’, a tribute to a dead friend. The Spanish ‘Golpe De Estado’ has a backing track that would move a corpse, the Spanish lyrics fitting with a powerful rhythm. The issue that it’s unlikely anyone knows what’s being said in this one is raised by Technique who goes on to talk about the indifference of race, religion and nationality, saying that most of us spoke English he didn’t understand anyway. 

Immortal Technique’s strong political views play a main part in the music he writes, even more evidently so that what is said live. While you might not agree with everything said, it wouldn’t be nearly as appealing without his razor sharp and often dark use of humour . “When I was approached by a major label (undisclosed) this idiot said to me”, “you’re a very intelligent and talented young man but some of what you say goes too far. “If you take this song of the album, we will put it out”. Technique goes on to say that he offered to take it off providing he could fuck the man’s wife. The song in question was ‘The 4th Branch’ which deals with the lack of independent and objective media.

The greatest feeling comes with songs from the second album ‘Revolutionary Volume 2‘, with Technique using the crowd for backings and chants, “I don’t care if you’ve been at the fuckin’ pub all day watching the game (Chelsea-United), stop standing there like your on fuckin’ heroin and get live”, “I need to hear the England that stole 2/3rd’s of the world from its rightful owners”.

Technique builds a heavy momentum as the show goes on through well known tracks, speaking of his appreciation of support and challenging the crowd on their familiarity with the first album. The emotional wrench that’s ‘Dance with the Devil’, in which a gang rape one of their peers mothers only to find out after, is sheer poetic brilliance. “People ask me all the time whether that actually happened.” “I reply it happens every day in every city”.

Things lighten up to round off and the night closes with the catchy and aptly named ‘Obnoxious’, before some realistic advice for any wannabe Che Guevara.“Before you go home and look in the mirror and think your some sort of rebel commando for coming to the show, you make the changes you want to see in life first, not when you’re at the pub drunk or high at some party”. He calls for the liberation of Palestine, the sending home of British troops from Afghanistan and the persecution of Tony Blair before leaving.

Michael Collins

Live Review: Napalm Death @ Rolling Hall, Seoul, South Korea, 01/09/12

My associates and I began the long and not exactly direct journey to South Korea a month prior to Napalm Death In Seoul, the capital. I have always found traveling to be tedious and agitating, with many an opportunity for something to go horribly wrong, this journey was no different. The beer we drank to get to sleep for the last and longest leg our flights wore off only a couple of hours in the air.

I woke up with a bad head to the terrible noise of a baby screaming and a desperation, to be somewhere other than the two square foot I was confined to for the next 8 hours. The rest of this time consisted of falling asleep in discomfort and sporadically jerking awake 2 inches away from an elderly Korean woman’s face or the trolley running over my foot, both of which can be startling in the first moments of consciousness.

The reason why I tell you this is that you appreciate the time and grit taken to bring you this review. Why not review them in England you say? Because its not the same, also I cant spend a month before hand in England in a hedonistic haze of food, Buddhism, monolithic neon cities and alcoholism.

1 month later, having returned from Japan that same day and with a string of flights home to follow in the morning, grindcore had become a little less appealing. We had been up all night drinking and leaving the relative comfort of our cheap sleazy motel, with a bath, a bed and a free softcore channel was difficult. In spite of this, we got ourselves ready, walked out onto the busy neon streets of Seoul and got a taxi to the venue. We eventually found the place called the “Rolling Hall” hidden in a backstreet by a “7-11” convenience shop across from one of Seoul’s many 4-lane death traps.

Korean cities are generally not aesthetically pleasing. The buildings mainly consist of high-rises, rearing their ugly heads as far as you can crane your neck, with only a few of the newer built buildings being of interest. Neon signs face you everywhere, perpetually advertising the bustling bars and restaurants. While there is always something interesting to look at, this does not put a fragile mind at ease. One other sensory shock is the possibility of walking into a solid wall of choking noxious gas. The haste to build when Korea gained independence from Japan after the war meant that sewer system was built shallow in the ground. The sweltering heat and humidity of the summer means that the smell of rotting shit hangs heavy in the air over drains, waiting to hit you in the back of your throat like a horrid, stinking, lead pipe.

As predicted there were plenty of foreigners at the venue. The first to meet us while we drank outside the shop were a group of loud humongous Americans comparing how metal they were and pretending to be in BLS. We made our way through the crowd to pay around the equivalent of around £30. Despite this blatant extortion, we walked down the stairs into a dark and surprisingly large basement venue.

Curiously, there were large amounts of Koreans present. Although the capital has a little more in the way of alternative culture, what passes as desirable in South Korea seems to be very linear. A superficial orgy of high street brands, male cosmetics and sculpted haircuts. Couples frequently wear the same sickening matching outfits. Every song heard in a street club or bar sounds like a ripped off version of “Riverside Motherfucker”. One of the more prolific male model’s frequenting the cover of billboards would not have to persuade you he was a woman. My friend swears to bludgeon his face to a pulp every time we see his stomach turning dreamy gaze upon us.

After some checking levels for a while, Mitch and Napalm’s sound guy, standing in for Shane (Embury) make themselves visible. The sound that suddenly erupts is an undistinguishable mess, but as Barney flies on stage, all flailing limbs and fists, the local crowd become wild and it’s easy to get in the mood all the same. It can’t be often that a band with Napalm’s repute visit and the crowd are visibly giddy in the good natured violence. The Koreans seize every opportunity to fly into someone or off-stage, the rareness of the occasion leaving no room for reservation, which meant keeping one eye opened for a well built mohawked man that landed on some poor bastards head every couple of minutes.

I’m not sure anything would dampen the spirit for the local crowd but the terrible sound made it hard to tell what was going on at all. The only clarity came with the vocals, which caused the rest of the mix to melt away entirely. Mitch’s attempts to correct this are lost in translation, “Turn the bass down”! he says in a way that you might negate with a deaf man issuing you a parking ticket.

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A few songs later, as the sound man was dragged outside and shot, the clarity seemed to be improving vastly. The viscous groove could be made out from the blasting madness giving the much needed distinction between riffs.

What makes Napalm Death great live became strikingly apparent, like a reflection of a flash camera off the top of Shane Emburys head, had he been there. ‘The Wolf I Feed’ from their newest album Utilitarian‘ is a slab of crusted aggression that utilizes simplicity with awesome effect, sitting alongside personal favourites’ from ‘Smear Campaign‘ easily, and proving that the strongest days of the veteran beast that is Napalm death continue.

Barney is true to his good and honest form, telling a Korean manically waving a flag on stage that he was “about people not flags”. The Korean got off stage looking not too dejected, unfamiliar with the stronger English dialects.

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The Brummy frontman always seems refreshingly eager to let the audience in on the concepts of the songs, like the corruption of the music industry, politicians, or racism, as is always brought up with the now staple Dead Kennedys cover ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ which is later in the set. It should also be noted that they are one of a few bands that make it so far around the world, and consider their movements ethically; for example touring South Africa avoiding apartheid supporting venues and areas. Barneys predictable rant on religion arrives on cue for ‘Practice what you Preach’. I have always this a little simplistic and off point, but its certainly more relevant than when playing England, every Korean cities skyline is adorned with neon crosses, Christianity’s not struggling here.

Grinding relentlessly onward, the mic is passed across the front row, subject to guesswork and beaming faces for, ‘All is Said and Done’. ‘Suffer the Children’ is the one everyone knows and gets involved to, the chugging monster that leads into some of Napalm’s and less refined work. I cant say the ‘Scum‘ era is my favorite, but there is an appeal in its honest raw sound and the band have obviously decided to hit the crowd with a shovel load of gravel and finish on a primitive hateful note, which the venue is only too grateful for.

Barney sticks around and talks to some of the fans who clamour to get in sight before the band finish packing up; one Korean fellow squeals “I love you”, with an ecstatic smile and no reserve. Before long a large man in a suite ushers us outside and we all disperse, heading to the bars to become helpless victims of Korean drinking culture for another night.

Michael Collins

Images courtesy of Popkorn Music – more images from the show can be found here