To mark Grindethic's tenth birthday, the grindcore and death metal label set out to put on a solid night of relentless slam death metal, what the label was fairly prolific at doing some years back. Nonetheless, they have survived a decade, eager to bring largely unknown foreign death metal to our capital and supplement them with the rising acts in this island's own scene.
Opening the birthday bash are the beastly Blasphitized, a London-based three-piece exhibiting two guitarists but no bassist or drummer. Their brand of slam death metal is fairly typical but boasts a wide array of headbanging opportunity. Selections from the latter part of their musical output incorporate technical death metal wizardry, distancing them from the generic slam death metal that is all too common these days. The audience feasts on their performance with headbanging during the rhythmic guitar work. This is a good appetiser of the acts to come later in the evening.
Also London-based, Regurgitate Life must be one of the most active touring acts in the UK death metal underground and with only one album to his name that was released last year. Undoubtedly, the vast majority of the attendees tonight have caught this one man band live at one of his numerous shows. Sammy Urwin stands alone in the centre of the stage with his guitar and belts out some fine slam death metal with machine-like rhythms and well-articulated solos. The audience are solidly behind him as evidenced by the solid ovations he receives. A welcomed addition to the Grindethic celebration, Regurgitate Life are a fine paradigm of one man slam death metal.
For their first show in three years, Beef Conspiracy have stirred up some anticipation. Always keen to entertain, the London boys are ready to truly let the party shenanigans begin! Their messy, dual-vocalist death/grind is infectious, dabbling in different tempos and levels of extremity. Tracks from the mini-CD 'Hung, Drawn and Quarter Poundered' include 'Nothing Says I Love You Like a Chainsaw Injury to the Head', 'Spunky Beefcake' and 'Jam or Butter Not Both' are aired out for audience consumption alongside their new song "which is now seven years old…". Guitarist and vocalist Tom Bradfield is also the co-founder of Grindethic Records along with Jon Rushmore (ex-Gorerotted and Infected Disarray skin-slapper) who is absent today, at the birth of his second child. Bradfield comments that this could be the final gig of Beef Conspiracy, suggesting a kind of ambivalence for the band. Nonetheless, if this is their last performance, it is marked as one that the audience will not forget.
The set contains a few competitions, such as who can eat the most Riveta crackers, who has the best dance moves and who has "the shittiest shoes," the latter being one in which nobody dared to nominate themselves for, much to Beef Conspiracy's disappointment. Novelty prizes are awarded to the winners, including a glittery purple cowboy hat, a tie with an assortment of chocolates depicted on it and a child's brightly coloured toy bow and arrow. At one point, bubble makers are given out to the audience, creating the surreal scene of bubbles hovering around a mosh pit. This is what entertainment should be about and if this is indeed Beef Conspiracy's last show, the UK metal scene is worse off for it.
The live death metal environment returns to the more conventional as Italian act Indecent Excision take the stage formed in 2004, and with one album 'Deification of the Grotesque' to their name. Although normally a two man band (after beginning life as a one man act), the duo employ a full line up for the live show. It would be tricky to follow Beef Conspiracy's ludicrousness on a normal night but the sound for the first track is so unapologetically atrocious that it is near-impossible to enjoy the band even as a seasoned fan; the drum sound is incredibly blunted, as if the kit is located in the next room and the guitars are thin and sound like static. Fortunately for the Italians, the sound man sorts this mess out after this first number.
By this stage, the audience appear somewhat slammed out, with Indecent Excision offering little different to a standard slam death metal template. The music may be bland and forgettable but a portion of the punters are intoxicated enough to continue moshing or headbanging for the hell of it. The highlight of the show arrives when vocalist Matteo Bazzanella invites Grindethic figurehead Tom Bradfield on stage. Bradfield is presented with two cakes, each sporting ten lit candles and a serenade from the venue singing 'Happy Birthday'. The cake was indeed very tasty – chocolate with icing. It does not get more brutal than this.
Headliners Defeated Sanity are potentially Grindethic's most successful band, having released their debut album 'Prelude to Tragedy' on the label back in 2004. Opening with 'Initiation' from this year's 'Passages into Deformity', the Berlin-based act serve up warm lashings of slam death metal, entwined with brutal death metal and some unusual jazz moments. Throughout the set, the new release is performed in its entirety, broken up by prime cuts from throughout the Germans' canon. 'Prelude to the Tragedy', 'Hideously Disembodied', 'Salacious Infinity' and 'Calculated Barbarity'. Frontman Konstantin Lühring is very appreciative of the band's opportunity or the evening, both to the audience for attending and the Grindethic crew for letting the band headline their anniversary show.
The technical prowess of Defeated Sanity cannot be overstated, reminiscent of US slam godfathers Suffocation. The slam passages arrive in a variety of tempos and guises, never stopping the maelstrom of hair from headbangers in the crowd and frequently sparking up mosh pits. Unfortunately, the show ends rather abruptly (probably due to the venue's strangling curfew on a weekend) and initially the audience are unsure whether to disperse but the venue's music and lights up makes it clear that the show is over. Fortunately, Defeated Sanity are not a rare sight on these shores and indeed they will return again, hopefully hosted by the wonderful people at Grindethic at yet another fun filled event. Brutal.