Nasum / Black Breath

Camden Underworld, London on Tuesday 25 September 2012

On February 17th 2005, Nasum vocalist and guitarist Mieszko Talarcyzk's body was recovered after being killed by the tsunami in Thailand in 2004. After this disaster, the Swedish grind powerhouse disbanded. 2012 would be the twentieth anniversary year had the group remained intact and so to mark this would-be honorary occasion and to do a final tribute to Talarcyzk, Nasum reunited solely to go out on the road and installed Finnish grindstars Rotten Sound's Keijo Niinimaa on vocal efforts. This is to be their farewell tour, encompassing a festival dates and a world tour starting in their home town and attending four continents.

The queue of metalheads, punks and crust adherents around the Underworld is lengthy, even an hour after the doors have opened – a particularly unusual sight for the copious metal/grind shows at this venue – but given the magnitude of this show, this is unsurprising. What is surprising is that tickets are still available on the door. The set times indicate Nasum will be on stage for a total of an hour and a half; this seems very ambitious for a gaggle of speed kings but very appreciated.

Following Nasum on this tour are American genre-defiers Black Breath. Despite only having two full-lengths to their name and forming in 2006, these Seattle natives prove they are certainly qualified to accompany Nasum on their final outing. Their music is a hybrid of crust, grind, crossover and death metal with a very strong Swedish sound inseparable from their core. Guitars are enshrined in the Sunlight Studios buzzsaw tone that was all the rage in Swedish death metal back in the early '90s.

The venue is packed to bursting and the crowd vicariously show they enjoy the aggression. The music is the perfect prelude to Nasum, with a variety of tempos, plenty of d-beats and headbanging rhythms and a very clean sound for once at the Underworld. Grabbing everyone's attention are well-crafted solos that provide a strong balance to the unapologetic nature of the music. The primitive guitars are decorated with the highly abrasive vocals of Neil McAdams. His fearlessness of engaging directly with the audience is appreciated, literally screaming in their faces. Their response is to mosh like there is no tomorrow. Black Breath's performance is definitely one that does not go unnoticed and bigger things will undoubtedly be on the horizon for them. The anticipation for Nasum is overwhelming with the venue either sold out or incredibly close. As the lights go down and the sample from 'Flesh For Frankenstein' used as an intro on the band's 'Blind World' plays over the PA, the four-piece's entrance is met by frenzied ovation and promptly they launch into 'Mass Hypnosis' from the sophomore full-length 'Human 2.0'. The quartet’s performance is devastating, with a clear passion to be playing together again. Niinimaa's vocals are a strong replacement and he handles the position with terrific confidence.

With most songs clocking in at a minute or less, tracks fly past as the intensity is delivered in bursts. Songs from all four Nasum albums are performed tonight but it's the selections from the 1998 grindcore classic 'Inhale/Exhale' that deservedly achieves the rowdiest responses, with such socio-political observations as 'I See Lies', 'Tested' and 'Time to Act!'. Keen eyes may have noticed grindcore king Shane Embury of grind instigators Napalm Death hanging around the venue; he is welcomed on stage by the Swedes (and Finn) to play bass on 'The Masked Face', while bassist Jesper Liveröd joins Niinimaa in a twin vocal assault, adding further fury to the music.

The audience reaction is as one would expect; stage divers and sweat-infused moshes are common place through the duration of the show. At one moment, Niinimaa descends from the stage and into the beer-stained crowd to get really up close and personal with them. 'Wrath', 'I Hate People' and 'The Black Swarm’ tear through the venue with ear-destroying velocity and are devoured heartily by the fans. The title track of 'Inhale/Exhale' summons fists in the air and hits like a sledgehammer to the face and it is impossible not to be caught in a headbanging groove - if there is space to headbang, given how sardine-like the audience compression is.

'Inhale/Exhale' turns out to be the closer, a seemingly fitting end, but the venue is still ravenous for more. The Nordic grind squad return to the stage very soon and let loose with a four song encore: 'The Final Sleep', 'Löpandebandprincipen', 'The Idiot Parade' and 'Den Svarta Fanan'. Within what feels like a blink of an eye (and understandably half an hour earlier than the advertised finish), the show is finalised and those in attendance remember how fortunate they are to have caught Nasum on their final tour. No doubt Talarcyzk would be proud of the performance put on in his honour. Those who missed this show for whatever invalid reason would do well to kick themselves. Hard!

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article by: Elena Francis

published: 28/09/2012 09:11

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