A CRUSHING combination of metal styles came knocking the door of Dublin's Vicar Street on the first day of March, 2017 in a procession of precision and glorious petulance towards the ingrates who never appreciate the sheer visceral vivaciousness and vitality metal can provide.
Kreator were the band most were there to offer their sweat-drenched, beer-fuelled adoration towards, but this handsomely filled tour package offered diverse styles and an unrelenting assault upon the unwary.
For example, openers Aborted, are do not deal in subtlety. Their slot was packed tight with their gore-death metal intensity. From Sven's vocal gymnastics through to the full-on Mendel and Ian guitar lines many unfamiliar with the band could have missed the melody flying in occasionally as the attack levelled on Vicar Street never let up.
It can be difficult to pick an Aborted song as a favourite on a particular night but on their return to Dublin in just over a year and a couple of days it was 'Termination Redux' and 'Cadaverous Banquet' that sounded fresh and feral.
Sticking Soilwork on this bill could have been as awkward as having the gore of Aborted on a line-up with Journey, as the Swedes have a definite propensity towards the melodic side of metal. But that misses the point. They are a 'metal' act, and that's all that needs to be said.
"What!" you may exclain, "keyboards!" - yes keyboards. For the uninitiated keyboards do exist in metal, and do work when Soilwork execute some thrilling moments of molten song craft.
'Rise Above The Sentiment', 'Bastard Chain' were both well delivered and well received, but 'Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter' was the clear favourite on this Dublin evening.
Kicking off with two tracks from a release barely six weeks old was a bold move for Sepultura (two more were aired from 'Machine Messiah on the night) but 'I Am The Enemy' and 'Phantom Self' sounded bombastic live and the devotion to the world/groove metal outfit was rapturous - a Brazilian flag held aloft just yards away from the swirling mosh pit.
Derrick is his usual commanding self as a stage presence. At times some of the vocals were a little strained, but that is but a minor quibble given the rigours of this tour. Compared to some of the reent times we have seen the Seps this appeared a more confident performance - perhaps 'Machine Messiah' has given them the impetus to be their very best again.
Certainly 'Resistant Parasites' was one of the best tracks on the night. However, the crowd wanted and got 'Inner Self', 'Refuse/Resist' and 'Roots' with the attendant singalongs, pits and crowd surfing.
For a wet Wednesday the 'Gods of Violence' that are Kreator were in remarkable good humour and good form. Let's make no mistake about it - they were about to mount a challenge to any pre-conception that metal is formulaic in its higher echelons.
And, while the music had more muscle than Arnie in his heyday, it was a visually lush lighting and stage set: six screens with projected - almost cinematic - imagery at appropriate times, strobes, sweeps smoke plumes, Mille's own smoke gun and ticker tape thrown high towards the audience.
Mille and Sami played with fluidity, whilst Christian and Jurgen nailed every beat. 'Gods of Violence' title track and songs from that release ('Satan Is Real' and a jaw-dropping 'Fallen Brother') felt as if they had been forever in the Kreator live oeuvre.
'Fallen Brother' was a passionate tribute to the pantheon of Gods who have slipped away from our sight and reside in memories and as inspirations. Many noticed that Dublin's rock son, Phil Lynott was among those projected onto the screens with Lemmy, Bowie, Leonard Cohen et al.
The stagecraft of the band was a lesson many could take on board and whilst some the in-between chat was well rehearsed the tribute to Irish audiences seemed genuine.
For Kreator, with tracks like 'People Of The Lie', 'Total Death' and 'Enemy of God' it could be that they could rack up, play and everyone would be satisfied. No. They are an outfit that does not accept the average, rejects any thoughts of phoning it in, and instead lay on a Teutonic musical terror attack that is an entirely tactile - as tactile as the massive pit Mille instigated.
Sated and exhausted the crowd slipped into the night. While all the bands thanked 'Dublin' the cars, mini-buses, coaches were taking fans back to Belfast, Dundalk, Sligo, Donegal and many other towns, cities and villages, because Kreator can draw a crowd from all parts of the island.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
Photographs by Darren McVeigh