9_Napalm Death @ The Asylum, Birmingham, Jan 09

It seemed somewhat fitting that just a week prior to the latest open day for the Home of Metal project – set up to celebrate the heritage of Birmingham’s heavy metal pioneers – that Napalm Death set up shop at Birmingham’s impressive new venue – The Asylum in Hockley – for a one-off and long-awaited hometown show.

Napalm Death are one of the bands that Home of Metal are concentrating upon given the fact that they were arguably the first band to bring the uncompromising ultra-velocity subgenre known as Grindcore to the masses, way back in 1987. Two decades on and counting, Napalm are about to release their thirteenth and latest studio album, ‘Time Waits For No Slave’, and this performance saw the band ploughing through the entire new release from start to finish, making this a must-see performance before the official release of the album soon after.

10_Napalm Death @ The Asylum, Birmingham, Jan 09

For the uninitiated, Napalm Death are unquestionably one of the most dependable live acts within the extreme metal sphere, hot on the heels of Slayer in the ‘never-seem-to-play-a-bad-gig’ stakes, with the high-octane performance belying the advanced (in at least compared to 1987) years of its members. With not a single square inch of the sizable Asylum stage left untouched, the kinetic energy displayed onstage was soaked up and vicariously discharged by the large enthusiastic crowd, who ensured that vast moshpits were springing up across the dancefloor, and kept security on their toes with a steady stream of stage invaders.

39_Napalm Death @ The Asylum, Birmingham, Jan 0936_Napalm Death @ The Asylum, Birmingham, Jan 09

Since the release of ‘Enemy of The Music Business’ at the start of the decade, Napalm have undergone something of a renaissance period, moving from the relatively pedestrian output of their latter years on Earache Records during the late 90s to more contemporary sounding yet arguably more brutal, razor-sharp grind, Judging from the new material played tonight, this purple patch seems to display few signs of abating, with the likes of ‘On The Brink of Extinction’ especially memorable.

15_Napalm Death @ The Asylum, Birmingham, Jan 09

With a back catalogue of hundreds of songs, Napalm obviously had to be selective with the remainder of the set, but few could have argued with the likes of ‘Suffer The Children’, and ‘Scum’. The fact that whilst they have a back catalogue with at least two stone-cold all-time classic albums, their latter-day output is arguably as vicious and forward-thinking as ever, shows a band refusing to rest on their laurels who continue to be as musically relevant as ever.

Finally, a word about the venue. This was the first time I’d been lucky enough to catch a band at this venue, and it certainly ranks as the best-sounding time I’ve seen the band locally. No hassles from door staff, a great-sized gig room and smoking area, and perhaps most importantly – reasonably priced booze! The performance by Napalm Death, in this massively impressive new venue, made for a memorable night, befitting a one-off release show.

24_Napalm Death @ The Asylum, Birmingham, Jan 09

Review – Duncan Wilkins
Photos – Katja Ogrin

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