Cannabis Corpse – Purple Turtle, London – Thursday 8th September 2011

 

Standing outside the Purple Turtle, grasping a sheet of A4. Few thoughts in the head but the ones droning in from the guys behind.

“Why this queue? What’s with this queue? What the fuck?”

And yes, indeed, it was inexplicable. The venue was open, the sound of Cavity Search could be heard beyond the threshold, and we were outside…queuing. The sky may have fooled our summer-blind eyes into thinking it later than it was – the darkness of the new winter thankfully nearing – yet the watches told no lies: it was almost 20:00.

Fuck and damn, they said. The mounting Agora chimed with the sound of questions: is this for people with tickets? is this for people buying tickets? what the fuck? Some branched forward to interrogate the bouncer. His stoicism, however, repelled them.

We half expected the local murza to come out and smack the lint off our faces. He’d lambaste us for insolence and impatience. He’d stink up the air with his breath and cause us to cry. Finally, we’d be sentenced to twelve years shovelling rancor dung.

Harsh but fair. Or not. Because, y’know, boo hoo, aw c’mon. Go on, let us wail like kiddies if the fancy takes us. Let us badger the poor doorman like the obstreperous assholes we know we are.

Anyway, eventually the doors opened, just in time to see Cavity Search packing away their equipment.

The venue was unusually well-populated by this point. We’ve become used to striding into the Purple Turtle, stretching out our arms, doing a jig or cartwheels or some such shit, things that require lots of space. You get a nice breeze drifting off the desert, and tumbleweeds, and various oases that look like lager pumps but are actually palm trees that one cannot drink regardless of the effort invested. And when we dream about the Purple Turtle – as we all do – we envision that spacious early-evening ambience that is two parts anticipation and one part boredom – or is it the other way round?

However, emptiness had not befallen the venue this time.

The early crowd had a purpose: to catch one of London’s most impressive young bands. So they congregated in the middle as soon as Cavity Search had shut up shop, yelling at their friends to bring the beer jars their way for fear of losing the optimal spot. A few quizzical faces lit the back area near the stairs – odd to see such Thursday night hysteria. Yes, bands this far down the bill rarely get such attention. But Necroriser are a breed of awesome far removed from the usual dregs. Had someone met their vicious thrash attack with apathy or sneers, going off to the side to scratch their nads, wearing a dismissive face as they text messaged some other human elsewhere in the city, they’d have immediately vanished because they don’t exist, they are made up, they are the crud of make-believe. Of course they are. Because everyone loves Necroriser. Because Necroriser are awesome.

The cheers were there. The arms raised high, too. All the crackling, hoarse voices echoing through the room as the band arrived on stage. It was as if the headliners themselves were arriving.

Self-described as Death/Thrash crossover, the band proceeded to play a superb and brutal set. Necroriser channel the quality exhibited by Sepultura in their early days: the ability to write crushing riffs, fast and technical, and arrange them to perfection. When it’s time to slow down, to tease out the groove, the song will follow suit. When it’s time to speed up, to ignite into headbanging mania, that’s where things will go. It’s organic and brilliantly done. Plus the ideas that pack the riffs are excellent.

As the fans at the front in Necroriser t-shirts began a circle pit, a man farther back asked his neighbour who this band was. He looked quite awe-struck. Upon learning their name, he nodded and returned his gaze frontward. Undoubtedly, he was but one new fan amongst a crowd of fans new and old, with all the Necroriser virgins noting their name and planning to buy a t-shirt post-haste.

Their animated stage presence helped to convey the central message: Metal; no bullshit, just Metal. Mighell’s frantic headbanging, Ruben’s forceful drumming (fuck economy of motion!), coupled with Vermeyo’s growls, showed us this adage in action. It’s something we want to see from more bands.

In-between acts, Vektor’s beautiful Black Future played. Kudos to whoever chose to play this album.

Astrohenge were next, shifting the scene away from the pummelling aesthetic of Thrash to fuzzy stoner shores. A transition that sent many of us to sleep. The first sign of a change was probably when the keyboard was brought on stage. Those left behind were a mixture of the curious and the lazy. Some genuine fans, too, admittedly, assorted rogues who had seen the band at the Unicorn during one of their sojourns into society. But most of us picked the exit.

Astrohenge may fit in with the drug motif of Cannabis Corpse, but musically they were an incongruous addition to the bill. Spaciness and cosmic imagery were not what we needed after the adrenalising session with Necroriser. In their own realm, Astrohenge may be revered; here, they could not match the enchantment promised and practised by the other bands. They were as dull as the stoned human is to the non-stoned human (and vice versa).

Cannabis Corpse soon ended the tedium. They may have begun life as a marijuana-obsessed parody of Cannibal Corpse, but over three albums they’ve grown beyond this category, and can now be covered in all the legitimacy one has to throw. With the release of perhaps their best album to date, Beneath Grown Lights Thou Shalt Rise – and their expansion into the song titles of Deicide and Morbid Angel – they were eagerly awaited and did not disappoint.

Many had just returned from outside, where they had stood between venue and roadworks smoking. Smoking what? Who’s to say? Ask the toxicologist. Suffice to note, the vocalist’s weed talk before certain songs probably resonated strongly with particular sections of the hoard. The rest of us acknowledged the drug nomenclature, smiled thoughtfully, and let the fantastic riffage engulf us. New tracks like ‘Sworn to the Bag’ and ‘Gateways to Inhalation’ nestled nicely beside old favourites like ‘Mummified in Bong Water’ and ‘Blunted at Birth’, and we enjoyed every second of it. Also, the sound was drastically better than it usually is at the Purple Turtle – a definite improvement when compared to Altars of Death.

The band didn’t spontaneously combust into a cloud of marijuana smoke at the end, much to the chagrin of our over-imaginative expectations; rather they finished their set and left, as did we.