Napalm Death at Manchester Academy

Support: Dropdead| Siberian Meat Grinder | Escuela Grind
March 8, 2023 at Manchester Academy
Promoter: M.A.D tourbooking

After a stint that took in shows all around the continent, Napalm Death retuned to the UK on the last leg of their European Campaign For Musical Destruction tour with an absolutely stellar supporting line-up in Dropdead, Siberian Meat Grinder and Escuela Grind.

We caught this much anticipated tour at a sold-out Manchester Academy to witness a lesson in the past, present and future of the most powerful and life-affirming extreme music.

Opening tonight’s proceedings were the brilliant Escuela Grind, who are making their first trip over to Britain in support of last years phenomenal Memory Theater album, a band who are making waves with their incendiary groove-enhanced grind/powerviolence mix, a band that I have been wanting to see live since first discovering them, and they more than lived up to expectations in the live arena. From hitting the stage, Escuela Grind simply commanded your attention with a hugely energetic and vibrant performance. With a set mostly consisting of songs from Memory Theater like the punishing ‘All Is Forgiven’ but also finding time to debut new material like the death-metal flavours of  ‘Ball And Chain’,  the band make a big impression to all who witness them with vocalist Katerina Economou prowling the stage in an energetic fashion with proud declarations of unity and solidarity to compliment their brilliant music. All in all, a fantastic opening set; and it was great to finally witness a band who are very much and deservedly on the ascent and were even better live than those high expectations intended. The return of Katerina, Krissy, (guitar) Jesse (drums) and Tom (bass) to these shores can’t come soon enough.

Arriving to an atmospheric siren intro and the strains of House of Pains’ ‘Jump Around’ anthem, Russian crossover/thrash/punk unit Siberian Meat Grinder followed and kept the party and energy levels way up high with a highly entertaining set that sees them mixing newer material from last years Join The Bear Cult album with older anthems, like the furious ‘No Way Back’, and the results are immense. With the band’s pig-masked frontman hyping the crowd up to to new levels of insanity, Siberian Meat Grinder are a whole lot of fun; and as they bring out their Bear Cult mascot, resplendent in a cloak and crown combo, the crowd goes even wilder. There is a serious side to the band’s set though as he declares that the “Bear cult is about Unity, against inequality and discrimination” to rapturous applause, and it is definitely evident that the band have made their mark on Manchester tonight.

Dropdead are rightly seen as legendary in hardcore/grindcore circles, so to see them and Napalm Death on the same night is something to treasure indeed and the band absolutely destroy us from start to finish. With a whole host of material from the 2020 album, and some choice older cuts as well, the Providence, Rhode Island quartet sound as ferocious as ever with a fiery set of to-the-point anthems. Vocalist Bob Otis is as passionate as ever and on fiery form as he swings his mic chord with fervour, while the rest of the band just give their all throughout as they storm triumphantly through their set.

Dedications (and heartfelt speeches) to Antifa and hunt saboteurs are met with massive applause, as is every aural bomb that Dropdead drop; and as the band depart the stage having blown the roof off the Academy, the Manchester crowd know that they have just seen something special.

After seeing such a fantastic trio of bands,  the audience have had more than their moneysworth tonight; but the night just got better as headliners Napalm Death took to the stage.

Due to several issues, there were a few changes in the Napalm Death camp at this stage of the tour but they still sounded as ferocious as ever. Shane Embury was sadly absent, but Siberian Meat Grinders’s Matt Sheridan ably stepped in on bass duties alongside long time Napalm drummer Danny Herrera and guitarist John Cooke; and while vocalist Barney Greenway suffered a broken ankle (something laughed off by the ND frontman early on) on the Munich date of the tour, he heroically carried on for the rest of the dates and performed the set sat on a chair, still gesticulating as he does but in an understandably static way. The sight of Greenway going crazy as he belted out the lyrics of the bands songs is something to behold in a totally heartwarming way.

Tracks from the bands latest album Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism like ‘Backlash Just Because’ and ‘Fuck The Factoid’ dominate the set tonight and go down extremely well, especially when Barney delivers an impassioned speech about the state of the country that ends with “Fuck these Tory bastards” before a brutal ‘Contagion’.

After the onslaught from the latest album, Napalm Death delve into their legendary back catalogue and each song sounds as special as ever with choice cuts from Scum and From Enslavement To Obliteration like ‘The Kill’, ‘You Suffer’ and ‘Mentally Murdered’ sitting alongside tracks from Utopia Banished, Smear Campaign and Apex Predator-Easy Meat, and all get a rousing reception, The performance of Harmony Corruption classic ‘Suffer The Children’ raises the roof even more as the pit erupts into a frenzy and everyone in attendance looks in glee at what they are seeing.

As Napalm Death round off their set with ‘Dead’, their legendary cover of ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ (complete with a defiant speech about unity, something that has defined every band’s set tonight) and the final blow of ‘Siege Of Power’, Manchester has truly witnessed the sheer power of the grindcore pioneers.

Napalm Death are still here defiantly kicking against the pricks and fighting the good fight; and with all their allies, both in the bands and in the audience tonight, it’s a fight that will continue for as long as it takes.

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