Friday the 26th of October 2012 was one hell of a fun night. Municipal Waste and Napalm Death were kicking off their co-headlining tour with Exhumed and Vektor at Empire (formerly Jaxx) in Springfield, Virginia that night and you just knew a line up like that was going to result in an awesome night. Apparently a lot of you had the same idea as the place was pretty packed. It was probably the best turn out I’ve seen at Empire since the new management took over back in January.
There were a couple of local openers to start the show off but I didn’t get there until Vektor was just beginning their set. They play a futuristic tech-thrash that is pretty damn fun to watch live. Their songs are long but they go all over the place so you never feel bored listening to them. The crowd surfers were already starting during their set. I had seen Vektor headline a show in mid September (ready my review of that show here) and while they didn’t play as long of a set, it was still cool seeing them on a proper stage. Also, guitarist David DiSanto was playing a new guitar this time. After Vektor played it was time for Exhumed to unleash their gory death metal on the crowd. They were as fast and brutal as ever and they’re the kind of band you can tell is having a lot of fun on stage. They had their crazy chainsaw surgeon guy come out on stage a few times with his real chain saw that he was waving over the audience and they even had blood splatter onto some of the people up close when he pulled out a decapitated head. Exhumed opened their set with several songs off their latest album, All Guts, No Glory, but started playing older songs midway through their set. They ended their set with their classic The Matter Of Splatter which really had people going nuts in the pit. Two bands in and this show was already kicking some serious ass!
Napalm Death was the next band to take the stage. They’re one of the fathers of grindcore and have consistently put out good material since they formed 31 years ago (although none of the current members have been in the band prior to 1987). In addition to that they’re also known for being one of the best live bands in extreme metal. As they opened their set they showed that their age was not slowing them down a bit. I had seen them in May at Maryland Deathfest X but this time the audience was much closer up to the band and the setting was definitely more in your face. Hell, I even saw a guy in a banana costume stage dive during their set (photo of that below). Napalm Death’s vocalist, Barney Greenway, was as spastic as ever on stage, pacing back and forth between bursts of vocal rage and showing that he’s still one of the most ferocious live vocalists in metal. Their set contained mostly material from the past 10 years or so but they did sprinkle in some key tracks from older albums throughout the set. For some reason the band played their infamous Guinness World Record holding one second track You Suffer two times during their set, that was a new one. I didn’t love their latest release, Utilitarian, because a Napalm Death album with clean vocal parts just doesn’t sound right to me. Even so, when they played The Wolf I Feed, a song from that album, it still fit in well with the rest of the songs they played despite the clean back up singing. Napalm Death played a thoroughly brutal set from start to finish and the audience seemed to love every minute of it, myself included.
The final band of the night was Richmond, Virginia’s Municipal Waste. They’re a party thrash metal band and they’re known for having a totally wild live show. Most of the band’s songs revolve around binge drinking and partying and they readily encourage stage divers. However if you stay on stage too long you’ll get an atomic wedgie, which vocalist Tony Foresta explained by making an example of one lingering stage diver during the show. They got the crowd going from the start with their songs Headbanger Face Rip and Mind Eraser. Tony said that since the band had toured so much lately they wanted to change up the set list some. This included playing A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Destroyer) for the first time ever live as well as playing the first song Municipal Waste ever wrote, Thrashin’s My Business… And Business Is Good. You can see the full set list here. The band was a bit sloppy but it didn’t matter, they’re more about having fun than playing perfectly. Guitarist Ryan Waste was sporting a new custom guitar that had a body shaped like a big M and W. At one point Tony mentioned that he didn’t like most modern thrash bands, but that he definitely approved of Vektor. An odd opinion since Municipal Waste is one of the biggest modern thrash bands. The shred-fest went on for over an hour and the mosh pit went crazy all night. Crowd surfers and stage divers were a constant presence and I’m sure a lot of people were nursing bruises afterwards, but they were well worth it to be in the middle of all the fun. As usual, you can see my photos of the bands I was there for below. I didn’t get shots of all of the band members throughout the night because it was hard to move around the wild audience that close to the stage and I was not trying to damage my camera with all the crowd surfers over head either. I have some video footage of Municipal Waste as well but due to complications from Hurricane Sandy I haven’t been able to upload those yet. I hope to add them to the end of this post in a day or two. It was great to see such a good turn out for a metal show at Empire and I hope to see more of you out at metal shows soon to help support the scene you’re a part of!