This was a gig I felt I simply had to attend. New Orleans, Louisiana-based sludge/grind/southern rock genre benders Soilent Green are one of the metal scene’s most distinctive acts, taking influences as diverse as Napalm Death-styled lightspeed grindcore, Sabbath-gone-south groove-inflected doom, jazz and punk and melding them seamlessly into a gracefully-flowing, glorious monstrosity. This was the last night of the band’s recent two-week UK tour – their first on these shores for over 11 years – and when the opportunity arose to finally witness in person the band whose music I became entranced by upon hearing A Deleted Symphony For The Beaten Down back in 2001, there was no question in my mind that I had to attend.
First, though, came the opening act – Worcestershire-based Day Of The Crow (2.5/5). While I found myself impressed by the tightness of the band’s performance (particularly that of the drummer, whose tasteful double-kick flurries and generally hard-hitting style added some potent heft to the group’s punchy, groove-laden metal) and the singer’s powerful roar, a traditionally poor opening-act live sound left much of the guitarist’s contributions suffocated by the combined low-end honking of the bass guitar and kick drums. Things started to improve sonically towards the end of the band’s set, allowing the sparse few in front of the stage opportunity to appreciate the guitarist’s nimble fretwork during solo sections, but overall the band came across mainly as admirably tight, yet generally unspectacular.
Next on the bill were Birmingham/Coventry based sludgey doomsters Sally – unfortunately, however, I didn’t get chance to check out their set, as I was ensconced in the back room interviewing Soilent Green‘s Tommy Buckley throughout. Based on the dirgey, bottom-heavy riffs leaking through the door and the enthused reaction from my gigging companion that night, however, I’ve definitely made a note to investigate the group further at their MySpace page.
After emerging from the back room after 40 minutes spent slaving over a hot dictaphone, I grabbed a pint and settled in to watch London-based death metal/grind/punkers Dripback(4/5), Soilent Green‘s touring companions for the last couple of weeks. A London metal supergroup of sorts (members have played or do play in such bands as Labrat, River Freshney and Ted Maul), the band’s furious combination of charging d-beats, skin-flaying blastbeats, nakedly aggressive riffing and sheer unhinged attitude soon began to contribute towards the painful bangover I would be nursing the next morning. Treating the growing audience to rampaging numbers from their debut EP Inhaling The Ashes (reviewed here) and served well by a far clearer sound than the openers had recieved, Dripback marshalled a mix of machine-gun rapidity and brutal beatdowns while showcasing a knack both for tighly-played, technical death metal salvos and rip-snorting hardcore punk chord progressions, all while vocalist Wez gave us all a faint case of the willies with his somewhat unbalanced-seeming stage presence. The band’s sense of humour showed through the chaos, however, as the band proceeded to bring onstage a birthday cake to commemorate the joint spawning-dates of drummer Heggie and tour manager Nathan. The levity was quickly dispelled with another couple of aural savagings, however. An excellent showing.
Finally, it was time for Soilent Green (5/5) to take the stage, and the band pulled out all the stops to deliver an invigoratingly furious set. While the setlist was culled mainly from the band’s most recent record, 2008′s Inevitable Collapse In The Presence Of Conviction (‘For Lack Of Perfect Words’, ‘All This Good Intention Wasted In The Wake Of Apathy’, ‘Mental Acupuncture’ and particularly the jangling, Southern-rock opening of ‘Lovesick’ all being received with fervent approval from the now-thronged and sweaty crowd), the group did reward fans of their earlier efforts, with the bludgeoning ‘Slapfuck’ from 1994′s Pussysoul seeing vocalist Ben Falgoust dredging up some truly guttural roars and ‘Sewn Mouth Secrets’ inspiring limb-flailing moshpits. The band’s performance was flawless, with the abrupt tempo changes and structural twists being handled with almost preternatural ease, while Falgoust’s imposing presence and stabbing gesticulations orchestrated the crowd’s headbanging and air-punching. The band ended the evening with ‘Antioxidant’ from Inevitable Collapse, and I left Eddie’s sweaty, neck-sore, and grinning from ear to ear.