Carcass at The Academy, Dublin – Review and Photos
Carcass at The Academy, Dublin – September 20th
Tonight is a gig that has been a long time coming: It’s twenty years since British death metal legends Carcass last played a show in Dublin. In the meantime, they disbanded for more than a decade, reformed in 2008, recorded and released Surgical Steel; their first studio album in seventeen years, and are now back on the road. Tonight’s sold-out show also marks the re-opening of the Academy after several weeks of refurbishment; not that the majority of tonight’s sold-out audience are likely to notice… They only have one thing on their collective mind.
The warm-up act are Dublin’s own Coldwar; a well-established death metal band with five studio albums under their belts and having already shared stages with umpteen of the big names in metal. Unfortunately, the capacity crowd is slow to fill the venue, and those that have arrived early seem to be reserving their energy and enthusiasm for the long-awaited headliners. They react tamely in response to the heavy and brutal eruption of noise and fury delivered by the quintet, much to the frustration of frontman Trevor McLave; a man who looks angry at the best of times. He proudly wears bold swastikas on his clothes and even on multiple facial tattoos in a brave (or perhaps foolhardy) protest to break its association with Nazism. Not giving in, Coldwar deliver their thirty minute set with determination and precision, and by the finale of ‘Last Days of the 4th Sun’, they appear to have won over the audience.
The anticipation builds as metal fans, young and old, compare notes on Carcass. Some were still in nappies (or not even) the last time vocalist/bassist Jeff Walker and guitarist Bill Steer took to the stage on these shores; while others were there, but too drunk to remember. Large white backdrops bearing the Surgical Steel album artwork tease them while the road crew prepare the stage, and before long the smoke machines billow out a think cloud of fog, the house lights dim, and the recorded intro of ‘1985’ heralds the Liverpudlians’ arrival.
Drummer Daniel Wilding and guitarist Ben Ash are first onstage, followed promptly by founding lead guitarist Bill Steer, as they transition into the opening riffs of ‘Buried Dreams’. Right on cue, Jeff Walker appears and immediately assumes screaming duties at the microphone; his voice gravelly and abrasive as it should be. The crowd are instantly engaged and are obviously familiar with the opening track from the 1993 album Heartwork. The second song of the set is ‘Incarnated Solvent Abuse’, and triggers a turbulent moshpit to spread like a contagious virus. The pit is particularly noteworthy due to the mix of ages of the participants; proof that you’re never too old to enjoy heavy music in the moshpit.
In his first of many jovial interactions with the audience, Walker announces “Good Evening Blackpool”, followed quickly by “See what I did there?” A quip that possibly went unheard owing to decades of tinnitus, judging by the confused looks on some faces. He proclaims that it is good to be back, and that they have a new album; “It’s not as good as the old stuff, but it’s alright” he adds. Continuing with two new tunes ‘A Congealed Clot of Blood’ and ‘Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System’, the set is a fairly even mix of new and old songs with similarly gruesome and graphic titles. The trio of guitarists regularly stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity at the edge of the stage, banging their heads and long manes in unison.
There is no doubt that Carcass are on top form and any fears that their reunion had been for financial gain are clearly unfounded. Walker is loving being centre-stage and delivers on the extremely high expectations of the fans who have waited two decades for this show. And in response, the audience show their appreciation with deafening cheers and applause. Unsurprisingly, the moshpits persist throughout the show, and the security staff are kept busy helping the crowd-surfers over the rail. Walker refers to a remark made earlier in the day that tonight’s gig in the Academy would be a small one, to which he responded “If its’ good enough for Slayer, it’s good enough for Carcass”.
As the end of the show draws near, he relates another story about their last gig in Dublin which was in the Tivoli Theatre in 1994. He explains that as they finished their set and left the stage, they threw picks and sticks into the audience. But when the crowd chanted for an encore and the band relented, they realised that former drummer Ken Owens had thrown all of his sticks into the crowd, and they had to ask for them back, rescuing one as the holder was about to jump into a taxi! Fortunately, current drummer Dan Wilding makes no such faux pas tonight and the encore of ‘Ruptured in Purulence’ and ‘Heartwork’ are a flawless finale to a triumphant return.
Photos by Anamaria Meiu
Review by Alan Daly