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Napalm Death and Carcass, live in Sydney

The mainstays of British metal head Down Under

It’s been eons since extreme music progenitors Napalm Death and Carcass undertook a fully-fledged tour together. So long actually, the latter’s guitarist (also briefly a member of the former) tells Hammer he can’t recall with certainty when it previously occurred. Thus, this is an event; a rabid, sold-out crowd inevitable.

Another rarity in these parts nowadays is a live appearance by taut Perth noise crew Extortion [7], executing their powerviolence-infused hardcore/punk with vein-popping, banter-free vigour. A guest spot from Napalm Death bellower Mark “Barney” Greenway affords a welcome teaser for the remainder of the evening.

Testament to career-affirming latest disc Surgical Steel, Carcass [8] open proceedings with Unfit For Human Consumption from said album, immediately followed by Buried Dreams and Incarnated Solvent Abuse – the fresh cut slots effortlessly alongside two stone-cold classics. Death shirt-sporting front-man Jeff Walker is in typically snarky form, remarking the “Pommy bastards” look “like a really washed-up cock-rock act”. A somewhat muddy mix distracts, but certainly not enough to sway the packed room’s dedication. The set spans their grindcore roots to (somewhat unfairly) maligned Swansong record; Black Star segueing into Keep On Rotting In The Free World. This reviewer caught the veterans three times in as many countries in 2014, and this hour-long display perhaps doesn’t reach quite as grand heights, but late airings of Corporal Jigsore Quandary and Heartwork justifiably resonate. Now, go study those medical textbooks and write another record, lads.

Being prolific is admirable, but unfortunately frequency and quality are not a mutual guarantee. Long-standing Brummie brutalisers Napalm Death [9] reinforce, often with the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the cranium, that you can maintain the rage while regularly knocking out LPs. Then only enhance your legacy via triumphant live performances. Like their predecessors, healthy servings of Apex Predator – Easy Meat indicate new material’s potency, occasional dissonant and psychedelic avenues off-setting the hyper-speed grind-death fury. Everyday Pox is another standout from recent efforts; John Zorn’s saxophone felt via the PA. Typical touchstones; Nazi Punks Fuck Off cover, acknowledging seminal debut Scum and extended prog-metal take on You Suffer (only kidding) are pit-satisfying manoeuvres; Greenway’s addresses about topics such as fascism and sexuality crowd-pleasing. John Cooke (jokingly dubbed “Munky from Korn”) ably substitutes for long-time axeman/backing vocalist Mitch Harris. No-frills, intensity personified.

In 2015, the world is fucked up; this means Napalm Death are as vital as ever, and a fitting finale to one of the best heavy double-bills to visit these shores in recent memory.