Concert Reviews

Over the weekend: Napalm Death at Marquis Theater

Napalm Death, Coliseum, Toxic Holocaust and Kataklysm
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Marquis Theater, Denver
Better Than:
A straightforward metal show.

The last time I saw Coliseum, the band had played at a warehouse space with Motheater. For this show, even though it was a more conventional setting, these guys from Kentucky still played an emotionally explosive, musically visceral set. At one point vocalist Ryan Patterson urged the audience to live a passionate life doing something creative and interesting. Throughout the show, Coliseum proved they were leading by example.

At first, Toxic Holocaust had me worried because Joel Grind looked like he could have been the son of C.C. Deville. But when the music kicked in, Grind sounded more than a bit like Cronos of Venom and the musicianship itself was pure speed-thrash and not the amateurish silliness purveyed by Deville's outfit. Sure, these guys had songs with titles like "666" and "War is Hell" and it got a little cartoonish at times, but the trio played the music with conviction and infectious enthusiasm.

Montreal's Kataklysm had twin, eight-foot-tall flags with a chaotic design flanking both sides of the stage. Maurizio Lacono informed us that we were about to hear death metal and for the rest of the band's set, Lacono and his bandmates played with a verve to match its name. The incessant, rapid head twirling could get a little amusing, but this was not a laughable band. Instead of self-indulgent solos, we heard only rampaging, colossal riffs delivered with the precision of a feline predator. Kataklysm didn't waste a moment of time on stage and delivered up a fireball of musical brutality.

An eerie, ambient patch of music filled the room as Napalm Death took the stage, but it wasn't long before Napalm launched into "Strong-Arm" to start off the show with a blast of the act's classic grindcore sound. There was little relenting throughout the set even when Barney Greenway engaged the crowd in righteous between-song banter. Most of the songs came from the early part of Napalm's career as well as some prime cuts from Time Waits For No Slave. With an unbelievable intensity, this foursome re-established its reputation as one of the heaviest, fastest and musically savage bands of all time.

Throughout the set Greenway performed as though he didn't have complete control of his body, and Mitch Harris' vocals sounded like a wild and dangerous feline. Inside an hour, Napalm churned out at least 21 songs including "Suffer the Children," "Scum," "You Suffer," "Life and Limb," "The Kill," "Time Waits for No Slave," "From Enslavement to Obliteration," "Mass Appeal Madness," "It's a Man's World," "On the Brink of Extinction," and a cover of the Dead Kennedys' classic, "Nazi Punks Fuck Off." The set finished with the mind-shearing dynamics of "Siege of Power." Saturday's show will go down as one of the most powerful performances by any band that I've seen.

Critic's Notebook:
Personal Bias:
Napalm Death recently became one of my favorite bands.
Random Detail: Shane Embury played through a Tech-21 SansAmp instead of a conventional amp.
By the Way: The merch from all the bands at this show was reasonably priced.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.

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