Malevolence, Lock Up, Brujeria & Napalm Death – Kings Arms October 4, 2017

Tove is back, and very happy, after spending last night at The Kings Arms…

Last night Auckland was a wonderful place, and Ben from Wellington’s best venue (Valhalla) worked a miracle. Never in my life did I think I’d see Brujeria, let alone in fucking Aotearoa! And to have them play alongside some of Grindcore’s greatest acts, Napalm Death and Lock Up…Well, I still haven’t stopped buzzing. And from the crowd last night, I think all were similarly buzzed. So I’m starting my review with a massive Thank You to Ben; you pulled of something incredible, and we’re all very fucking grateful.

The night opened with one of Aotearoa’s oldest, and most consistently brilliant bands, Malevolence, who as always killed it. Setting the tone for the night (fucking brutal fun), there’s a reason these guys are still killing it. Frontman Dero brings huge energy, and that underused in the metal scene quality; Humour. So many bands take themselves so seriously they forget to have fun, but every time I’ve seen Malevolence (about 500 over the past 20 years) they always seem to be having fun. It’s part of what sets them apart, well, that and the fact they’re a fucking tight machine that kills it every time. Malevolence rules!

Lock Up began with a driving sound that went down into your bones, which is impressive on its own. But then I realise the drummer is the same dude that 20 minutes ago was passed out in an armchair, exhausted by jet lag, and I’m even more impressed.

Shane Embury contributes to that sound with his insane, instantly recognisable bass sound, complex and down to the bone. And that goes for everyone; these guys have all had brutal journeys down under, with delays and cancellations up the wazoo, and the energy the bring reflects none of that.

Frontman Kevin is as always, a brilliant showman, who has that energy, humour and genuine gratitude that he gets to do what he was clearly born to do. Always an active performer, the barefoot hobbit motherfucker (Brujeria are upstairs playing with Machetes and Kevin is on stage barefoot, it’s like a fucking tetanus party in here), his new vegan diet seems to have pumped up the volume; pelvic thrusting all over the stage like the Energizer Bunny (Or the PG13 version), his dancing can’t help but make you smile.

The room fills with the sound of a tinny, slightly sinister if you watch too many horror films, song in Spanish. Brujeria have arrived. Bone rattling aggressive, but the white socks make it. No, actually, its the machete.

Opening by getting the room to chant “”Fuck Donald Trump”, you know it’s going to be a good set. The aggression gets moreso. I’ve never seen a drummer sit with such stillness, yet make such an array of grindy power, its impressive as hell. For three members of the band it’s the second set of the night, and the balaclavas must be punishing in the heat. And for the Mexican Gang member from Birmingham it’s only 2 of three. Yet no one is pulling back or showing signs of tiredness, and its magical.
Even the Kings Arms Blue Light Disco seizure lights aren’t detracting from the power on stage, and it gets more powerful by the minute. Oh, and some more pelvic thrusting; Kevin is clearly a bad influence. But there is inhabitable fury here, at the state of the world. For a band that many have seen as a joke (covering the Macarena as Marijuana will do that), they get across all the rage and passion in the world; and the fact they’re singing in Spanish to an English speaking crowd doesn’t seem to dampen that message. I could have watched them all night, but the show had to end, albeit in the best way possible. Packing down to the Macarena, watching big hairy guys attempt to dance it, and the re imagined moves to the dance was a brilliant outré. I’m still in shock I got to see Brujeria, and so grateful that I did. It was a powerful set.

Napalm Death never get old, they just age like a fine box wine. For Shane Embury it’s the third set of the night, and there is no loss of power or sign of flagging. Shane the machine, and its a feat of epic proportions. The distinctive bass, the heavy complexity, I’m hugely fucking impressed at both the prowess and the stamina. Barney and his knee socks are as always full of spazzy energy; the energy of the man is phenomenal, considering he was also mucked around by the airlines.

With the lighting, it’s hard to tell if Barney is dancing or having a seizure, but it sure is fun to watch. How such an incredible sound and raw political energy came out of fucking Birmingham I’ll never know, but it’s always a treat to hear such powerful political lyrical content, and to hear it from a metal band is even better. It’s a breath of fresh air, even if half the crowd seems a bit confused (I suspect many have never actually listened to the lyrics before).

Playing a mix of old and new, with a couple of great covers, its a fucking brilliant set. Napalm Death are a band that you can always expect a brilliant set, but even I was shocked to hear Barney,  a white male metal singer, give a wee talk about being pro choice. I’m my 20 odd years of gigs I’ve never seen such a thing, and it warmed my heart, possibly bringing a tear or two. Ending the night, in the spirit of friendship and solidarity with a cover (that far surpasses the original) of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” and a wee eulogy to the Kings Arms and greed, he thanked everyone for all the memories; well, Thank you Barney and Napalm Death. You made my fucking year; and actually, that can be said for the entire night.

Thank you to everyone who made last night happen, it was one of the greatest gigs I’ve ever seen, and will always be glad I did.  Thanks for all the memories (and Malevolence Rule).

Tove Partington  \m/

Watch Tove’s interview with Kevin Sharp here:

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk: