Featuring one of the most diverse heavy music lineups in recent memory, the Savage Imperial Death March Tour blasted through Vancouver last week and treated extreme music fans to a sweaty, sold-out show featuring three acts universally considered legendary in their respective genres.
By the end of their first three songs Japanese noise rock duo Melt Banana had already garnered from the crowd unanimous applause (which, regardless of the band’s legacy and stature, is a remarkable achievement for any opening act in Vancouver.) Those old enough and/or well-versed in alt-rock history will likely recall a similar scenario two decades ago when Japanoise contemporaries Boredoms supported on successive tours Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and Brutal Truth; evidently the surreal blending of Western punk rock with Japanese pop cultural idiosyncrasies continues to surprise and delight unsuspecting North American audiences, making Melt Banana’s set a noteworthy highlight for many.
A Melvins set never fails to entertain from start to finish, given the band’s inventive songwriting and extensive catalogue of 20+ studio recordings as well as several inspired collaborations (the stunning Pigs of the Roman Empire, recorded with dark ambient overlord Lustmord, remains a crowning experimental achievement in their discography.) No surprise, then, that Napalm Death bassist Shane Embury should join the trio onstage for a crushing rendition of “Night Goat”.
Undoubtedly bolstered by emphatic crowd response, the spirit of camaraderie continued into Napalm’s set, led by vocalist “Barney” Greenway’s genial commentary between songs. While the ferocity of the music would seem to belie the progressive principals evident in the band’s lyrical content, watching the singer help a crowdsurfer to his feet onstage demonstrably confirmed the compassionate spirit at the heart of their long career in extreme music.
Overall, an incredible and unforgettable night. \m/ \m/