Birmingham goes on forever and there’s nothing in it apart from curry houses and Napalm Death. And Supersonic, the annual Mecca for people who take music too seriously and think all metal is hilarious Wayne’s World music unless it comes out on Southern Lord, in which case they lose their shit in a massively hypocritical emperor’s new clothes sort of way. They’re mostly right, metal is dumb and laughable, but where they err is in thinking there’s an exception.
I last went to Supersonic when bowel-emptying drone monks Sunn 0))) headlined, which was about two years ago and I’d completely forgotten how crushingly dull that festival is if you’re not into duffle coats, feedback loops and tote bags with animals drawn on. Luckily, post-Electric Wizard Dorset doomsters Ramesses and primordial death metallers Obliteration are playing in town as well, so that’s a good few hours I won’t be spending talking to someone called Casper about his multimedia installation exploring contemporary attitudes to fertility.
Obliteration look very young, they probably weren’t even born when Darkthrone took their first faltering steps and put Norwegian death metal briefly on the map, before attacking it with little pentagrams, and that makes their delivery of hellhammering DM so cynicism-free and strangely for something so crusty, downright pure. If I was writing a review for some dull-as-shit, thoroughly redundant label-pleasing webzine I’d feel compelled to end my summery of Ramesses with “they may not have broken the curse, but it’s far from broken them!” Which is a pithy way of saying they break a load of stuff and the drummer looks like a frustrated anaemic Wolverine while they sort it out, but they carry on regardless. It’s pretty awesome really and the beer is cheap.
Over in the land of thick-rimmed glasses, Fukpig half-fill a tent that smells strangely of tea leaves, which is pretty good going given they sound like Dissection playing Extreme Noise Terror covers, as opposed to ‘outsider art’ that taps into our natural ‘fear of the other’. You would not believe how many times I heard people talk about ‘the other’ this weekend. I don’t want to kick over your snowman but it is just music, not an EDL march.
Napalm Death next, one of the reasons I’m here, and a thoroughly disheartening experience. It seems a bit churlish to begrudge a bunch of people who’d rather be stroking their chins to a bloody pulp in front of Mogwai their first grindcore experience, but this band are a big deal so it’s perfectly fine to be overprotective as floppy haired idiots smirk knowlingly and gallop off into the pit for an ‘experience’. The sound is flatter than a tissue innersole, almost in direct inverse proportion to the band’s earnest enthusiasm – a carefully picked groove-heavy set and explanations of all the songs. As I leave to cry in the toilets on their behalf I overhear someone talking about having moved in with Tara. Don’t be forlorn my sweet Napalm Death, my stalwart soldiers of Sparkhill, you’re far too good for the kind of people who live with people called Tara.
Part II tomorrow, picture shamelessly thieved from this lovely blog.