Photo Gallery: Napalm Death and More at The Old Fire Station, Bournemouth

The Old Fire Station in Bournemouth is literally that, and it makes for an excellent mid-sized venue that has surprisingly good acoustics. It seems like about 70% of the South coast metal scene is in attendance, with good reason given the astonishing lineup. Approximately everyone is snapping up merch on the way into the main room and the bar is barely keeping up with demand – sure signs that the crowd are practically baying for the oncoming onslaught.

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Bat features Ryan Waste and Nick Poulos from Municipal Waste but taking on an even older-school speed/thrash form, and they’re a quality opener to the night. Good riffs played loud and fast are a universal language which Bat speak eloquently, throwing punchy choruses against ripping solos delivered by men in bandannas; surely a timeless image of metal musicians enjoying themselves to an infectious extent.

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Rotten Sound by comparison appear in a much fouler mood, which is ideal. Their intensity and pure rage are a shocking transition, with Keijo Niinimaa’s roar quickly laying waste to the audience amidst a torrent of chromatic riffs and destructive blastbeats, calculated to maximise sheer intensity. The passion in the audience is palpable, with many delighted to see their long-overdue return to the UK, and with tracks from across their 27-year tenure Rotten Sound bring dose after dose of lethal, righteous punishment.

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Misery Index are an interesting blend – somewhat akin to the groove of Lamb Of God or Machine Head being forced face-first into an industrial shredder. It’s definitely deathgrind, but they know exactly how to write big, entertaining tunes replete with ferocious breakdowns and beats at the perfect tempo to set a circle pit alight, which by now are forming with invigorating regularity. Looking for all the world like Metallica from an alternate dimension where they all lived as crust squatters back in the mid-’80s, Misery Index are selling the balls-out, all guns blazing rock show (but much more brvtal) and gods, are we buying.

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Next up, Eyehategod hit the stage and a it’s a veritable frenzy in the stalls. The filth coming off-stage is astonishing. Vocalist Mike Williams still does the best impression of a wounded animal, and it’s absolutely exhilarating to witness such unbridled howling while the band are both insanely loud and incredibly tight. Between the tracks, the feedback sometimes rings for 30 seconds or more, only adding to the primal, visceral atmosphere in the pit, at points playing host to a quick circle and then shifting into five dudes doing half-time headbang (feel free to quote that out of context anytime). Summary: So goddamn good.

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Napalm Death. In Bournemouth. In front of a few hundred people. The atmosphere is fucking electric, and Barney’s on top form tonight. Two songs in and he apologises for not introducing himself immediately, which is frankly charming. Not only is the sound emanating from the PA simply monstrous and ludicrously tight, not only are we hearing everything from ‘The Wolf I Feed’ taken from 2012’s Utilitarian to two (count ‘em) renditions of ‘You Suffer’, but the audience is also party to Mr Greenway’s musings on everything from abortion rights to class struggle. When they launch into their cover of ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’, a raging, vital unity takes hold of the room that perfectly demonstrates the power of grindcore; our shared critique of society and our willingness to struggle against it is what binds the scene together as much as the appreciation of roaring blasts of noise. What a way to start a tour.

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Words: David Burke

Pics: Tim Birkbeck