Napalm Death // Zealot Cult // Okus // Live Review // The Limelight II // Belfast
Dubbed by many as “the gig that wouldn’t die”, the stars finally aligned and Napalm Death arrived in Ireland for a trinity of sold-out shows across Limerick, Dublin and Belfast. Tonight was the last of those three shows and the Distortion Project had curated a lineup that more than made up for the long wait. Before doors had even opened, an enthusiastic crowd of crusties and curiosities lined the street waiting to get in.
First up was Okus, hailing from Drogheda. As they took to the stage, it was clear they were pulling no punches. A heavy aggressive combination of crusty punk music combined with a dark metal tone which had a sense of the chaotic yet was delivered with precision and intent. This isn’t noise for the sake of noise but, well crafted and considered noise.
Okus have recently added Mark Louth to the roster as a dedicated vocalist, something that always gives a band much more presence on stage. Mark dominated that space with an intense performance, clearly giving everything he had, hands often shaking with rage as he clutched the mic. At times, both guitarists added backing vocals, and the layering of vocals worked much better than it had any right to, never sounded crowded, and always added to the sound.
Some busted strings mid-set didn’t prevent Okus from delivering a stunning opening set, and hopefully, they’ll return to Belfast for a show of their own.
Round two of the evening, and we have Limerick’s Zealot Cult delivering a tight set of death metal that occasionally dabbled with some black metal, thrash and even doom influences. Despite there not being much movement on stage, there was still an intensity to the performance. Guitars ended up drenched in sweat, and calls were made to the crowd to get some movement going. The second technical issue of the night occurs as one of Zealot Cult’s guitars dies and has to be switched out mid-set. Someone in the crowd is overheard saying that it’s not a grind core gig if something doesn’t go wrong.
While there’s a clear appreciation from the crowd at the end of the set, things haven’t quite kicked off… yet…
After a quick break, it’s time for the band we all came for. There’s no formalities here. No pretence. John Cooke hobbles onto the stage on crutches while Danny Herrera is already behind the drums. A quick entrance through the fire doors and “Barney” Greenway and Shane Embury take the stage. We’re told to prepare for some “unrepentant unapologetic noise” and Napalm Death kick straight into Silence Is Deafening. The front of crowd immediately launch into a mosh pit. The band continue to rip through a 24 song set, working in classics such as Scum and new tracks like Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism. Barney is absolutely relentless on stage, running in circles and rarely standing still for more than a moment. While the rest of the band focus on delivering the songs with impeccable precision, Barney is like an animal let loose. And the audience follow suit, barely stopping for a breather amidst the moshing and crowd surfing.
Through out the set there are multiple short speeches regarding important political and human rights issues. Barney expresses his hatred of wars and weapons, of abusing people for cheap labor, the abhorrent attitudes that organised religion forces on women and the fact that no refugee or person should ever be considered illegal. The applause and shouts of the crowd are testament to the fact that everyone in this room is on the same page.
Rattling through that set, Napalm Death throw in a cover of Don’t Need It by Bad Brains, which they describe as the first “proper” song of the evening. The infamous You Suffer is played without any warning (taking quite a few people off guard) and it wouldn’t be a Napalm Death show with them covering The Dead Kennedys “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”. One final track, and another classic, they finish with Siege Of Power.
As the show ends and security start ushering people out of an admittedly rank Limelight 2, members of Napalm Death hang about to get photos with fans and stop for a chat. There’s no rockstar attitude here. No egos and no bullshit. Just four lads that love playing heavy noisy music with a poignant message behind it. And the sooner they come back the better.
NAPALM DEATH’s latest and much lauded 16th studio album Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism (2020), which was recorded with longtime producer Russ Russell and features artwork by Frode Sylthe, entered international sales charts upon release as follows: Germany: # 18, Austria: # 37, Switzerland: # 26, Finland: # 35, Belgium: # 88, Spain: # 78, France: # 120, UK (Rock Chart): # 3 and USA: # 58 Billboard Top Albums.