Napalm Death, Voivod, Exhumed, Iron Reagan & Ringworm played Gramercy Theatre (pics, videos, review)
photos by Mathieu Bredeau, words by Andrew Sacher
Napalm Death / Voivod @ Gramercy Theatre – 2/2/2015
Monday’s (2/2) cruddy winter weather in NYC didn’t stop the totally stacked Napalm Death, Voivod, Exhumed, Iron Reagan, Ringworm and Black Crown Initiate tour from rolling through Gramercy Theatre and packing the venue to the gills. This six-band bill went hard from its 6:30 start time to its end around midnight, with almost no low points.
It did start off a little slow, with openers Black Crown Initiate. They weren’t bad, but on a bill of bands mostly derived more or less from early hardcore, their love of machine gun breakdowns just felt a bit out of place.
Things shifted into full gear when metallic hardcore greats Ringworm took the stage. They put tracks off their influential 1993 debut, The Promise (“Necropolis”) right up against stuff from last year’s killer Hammer of the Witch (title track and a couple others), but you wouldn’t have guessed the songs were released 21 years apart if you didn’t know any better. The whole band tore through every song with insane precision, and singer Human Furnace was basically never not in beast mode. You couldn’t possibly stand still for them, and that would be true of each subsequent band as the next five hours flew by.
Next was Iron Reagan, the crossover thrash supergroup, fronted by Municipal Waste shouter Tony Foresta, with the most flat-out fun set of the night. They look and sound straight out of thrash’s early days, down to the outfits, hairstyles and stage moves. But with a level of homage approaching parody, and 12-second songs called “Your Kid’s An Asshole,” it’s clear (and refreshing) that Iron Reagan aren’t taking this too seriously. That doesn’t mean they don’t rip though. Their shows are a grin-inducing nostalgia trip, but also every riff and every drum fill is tight, locked in, and bold as fuck. Don’t look to Iron Reagan if you want groundbreaking, but their shows are unmissable if you want a helluva good time.
Then came California death vets Exhumed, who are about to release a re-recorded version of their 1998 classic debut, Gore Metal (which they half-jokingly apologized for on stage), and they played a good chunk of that album. It was their first NYC show since new bassist/growler Matt “Slime” Ferri joined, and while I’m not the best judge for this stuff (death growls aren’t usually my thing — band leader Matt Harvey’s higher-pitched shrieks are much more my speed), he seemed to carry his weight and mesh with Harvey well. There was no doubting that Harvey is a master though. He shined as a frontman, and maybe even more so when he made his way to the edge of the stage for some terrific soloing.
The place noticeably turned up when the first of the two co-headliners, Voivod, took the stage. The crowd packed in closer, the mosh pits got fuller, and chants of “VOI! VOD! VOI! VOD!” punctuated songs. Frontman Snake took the first of those chants as an opportunity to introduce their new bass player, Rocky, who replaced original bassist Blacky last year (“We love him so much… he’s greasy”). He fit the band well — younger guy in a tight Motorhead t-shirt who certainly knew his way around a bass, and really did seem to feel right at home with the other members. But of course the real star of their set was Snake. That dude is ageless, maniacally fronting the band like they’re still a bunch of young punks. They gave us classics from their prime ’80s era, right up through new single “We Are Connected” off their upcoming split with At the Gates, and all of it crushed. Their set (like all of the night’s sets) was encore-less, and the crowd really didn’t want them to go.
That high didn’t subside at all when Napalm Death came on to give us yet another set from a band with over three decades behind them and zero signs of slowing down. They had a fill-in for guitarist Mitch Harris, and though it would’ve been nicer to see them with Mitch, lead screamer Barney Greenway called the fill-in a “virtuoso” and it was hard to disagree. His playing was razor sharp, and from the crowd’s apeshit reaction to the entire set, I don’t think anyone was getting too picky about who they had up there. Part of that was also probably due to the fact that all eyes were mostly on Barney, who was in a literal frenzy for the entirety of the set. ND were supporting their new album, Apex Predator – Easy Meat, and while some people see bands this far into their career strictly for the classics, the new songs were actually highlights of the all-killer set. Sure it got wild for “Scum” and their version of Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off,” but this was no nostalgia set. Barney ran around stage all night in a Swans t-shirt, which is pretty apt. Like Swans, Napalm Death’s groundbreaking beginnings took place in the ’80s, but they’re still making vital music and putting on brutal live shows in the ’10s.
More pictures from most of the show (our photographer missed Ringworm and Black Crown Initiate), and some videos from the show, below…