Havok, Warbringer and Gorod at the Underworld, London - live review

The Gospel - live

Crowd shot

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It’s worth remembering that, for all of the success of The Big 4, thrash was never meant to be played in stadiums. Tonight’s sticky-floored confines provide the perfect setting to the old-school thrills this music still delivers. Although GOROD [6] and their proficient tech-death seem like an odd opener, it’s doubly confusing as the band’s smiley demeanour is totally at odds with their music. It takes WARBRINGER [7] to light the touchpaper. The Los Angeles quintet revel in delivering every absurd cliché in the thrash handbook, but you can’t argue with the wailing, screeching likes of Remain Violent. On current form, with latest album Conformicide already wounding necks worldwide, HAVOK [8] might just be the premier live band in thrash. Tight like a boa constrictor and vicious as a viper, they, and the circlepitting punters, decimate this venue. Whether it’s classics like DOA or new tracks like set highlight HangEm High, Havok never miss a beat. Even though they stick rigidly to thrash’s blueprint, there’s enough personality in their playing for them to feel vital today.

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.