Napalm Death, Brujeria, Frozen Soul, MDC @ Bowery Ballroom
While easily recognizable on any given day, Halloween weekend is a time when even the most outrageously dressed metalhead can fly under the radar compared to folks passing by in costume en route to a party.
Still, using the festivities to their advantage, among the black clad fans outside the Bowery Ballroom were a handful of costumed headbangers ready for a night of intense music. What lay ahead was the much anticipated Campaign For Musical Destruction Tour headlined by Napalm Death with support from Brujeria, Frozen Soul, and MDC.
One of the pioneers of the hardcore punk scene in the United States, Oregon based MDC were among the first bands to establish the meaning of being 'on the frontline'. Along with Dead Kennedys and Minor Threat, MDC set the pace for countless punk bands to follow.
Younger punk fans might recall a 2016 Green Day performance when, during a playthrough of "Bang Bang", the band launched into an anti-Trump chant based on the hook of MDC's "Born To Die". Vocalist Dave Dictor admitted to the Manhattan audience "(the performance) not only made me proud, but it got our old asses back to work writing music!"
With a career spanning over forty years, MDC's speedy riffs and politically charged lyrics show no signs of stopping. "We were there for Rock Against Reagan, we were there for Rock Against Racism," recounted Dictor, "and now with everything going on in the world, we are glad to still be here and to still be pissed off about it!"
It's one thing to refer to a breakdown as 'the nasty riff', but something else to have that phrase applied to an entire performance. Enter Frozen Soul who, from the opening groove of "Encased In Ice" had everyone on the barricades shouting "that is the most disgusting guitar riff I've ever heard!"
Hailing from Texas and washed over in appropriately icy blue lights, Frozen Soul carry the sword and shield wielded by bands such Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, and Benediction. With each song crashing down like an avalanche, theirs were among the fastest and fiercest circle pits of the night.
As one of an impressive generation of new American death metal bands, which also includes Undeath, Gatecreeper, and Sanguisugabogg, Frozen Soul no doubt has a long career ahead of them. From the crowd's reception, it is clear that a return to the Big Apple will be greatly anticipated.
When death grind legends Brujeria come to town, it is not a concert, it is a movement; a micro-revolution in every concert venue. While performing songs and stage banter almost entirely in Spanish, even the most Guero of Gueros (see also: Gringos) could understand the band's simple message: smoke weed, kill your enemies, and hail Satan.
Charging through a set packed full of their biggest hits, including "Matando Gueros", "La Migra", and "Consejos Narcos", the venue quickly turned into a battle zone. Stage divers made their leaps into the audience among wave after wave of crowd surfers. Even those not in the middle of the pit could not escape the intensity of the performance.
Despite their intimidating personas, it is impossible to leave a Brujeria show without enjoying it. The over the top antics and infectious grooves are the exact traits that have brought the band legions of fans over over thirty years. Closing with a performance of "Marijuana", a cannabis themed parody of the 90's mega hit "The Macarena", the crowd had just enough time to catch their breath before the final performance of the night.
With the opening riff of "Silence Is Deafening", grindcore pioneers Napalm Death kicked off a set that smashed through the venue like a freight train through a glass building. Politically driven since day one, there has been no shortage of social issues to shout about in recent years. "I'd like to take issue with the concept of human beings being 'illegal'," stated vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway, "refugees, migrants, they are the same as you and me: we are not illegal, we are people."
Celebrating their fortieth anniversary last year and boasting seventeen albums (not counting splits, EPs, and singles), there was a little something for everybody. From "Contagion" and "Backlash Just Because" from 2020's Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism, to "Scum" and "The Kill" off 1987's Scum, the dancefloor was a warzone between the original hardcore punks and the younger generation of headbanger.
Rounding out the set with the infamous "You Suffer", Napalm Death made their point clear: hate is not welcome in this world. For undisputable proof, see their iconic cover of the Dead Kennedys' classic "Nazi Punks Fuck Off".
And while the media insists that the world is a dark and scary place, the cheers of approval to Greenway's speech on illegal humans and the many voices that shouted the chorus to the aforementioned DKs song show that there is still hope. While Napalm Death provides the aggressive soundtrack, it is clear that there are still many people willing to help others and who wish to build a better tomorrow.
Press and photo pass courtesy of Freeman Promotions