Extreme Noise Terror, Desecration, Phobia, Nomads, Turbokrieg Fitzgerald's April 7, 2015 No one I spoke to last could seem to remember the last time that UK grindcore originals Extreme Noise Terror came to Houston. The easy consensus, though, was that it had been a long fucking time. As it was, we got the light-touring troupe on the final evening of a relatively brutal five-shows-in-five-nights trek across the country from California--and on a Tuesday evening, at that.
The raging E.N.T. loyalists who turned up last night to see them would have gladly paid admission to see the band play Fitz on a Tuesday morning, or under a bridge in the middle of flu epidemic. It didn't matter. All that mattered to the weird throng of crust punks, headbangers and hardcore kids hanging out and smoking on the club's downstairs patio was that they didn't miss the chance to get gnarly with a group of the planet's longest-running extreme-rock icons.
The earliest fans to arrive were greeted by Turbokrieg, the familiar local grind outfit. With tongue forever in cheek, the band's front man praised the small-but-growing crowd's decision-making skills.
"It's good to see so many people here on a Tuesday, when Buffalo Wild Wings has 60-cent wings," he cracked.
Turbokrieg's whipping, old-school grindcore assault was studded with a few nice guitar solos, featuring the singer air-guitaring along on his mike stand and pausing to briefly to tune his air-strings. After about 18 minutes' worth of yelling and blasting, the band's bass rig apparently shit itself, and the set was over. No doubt they'll pop up again soon.
Next up was L.A. hardcore group Nomads, who delivered a particularly brutal strain of punk rock a bit reminiscent of Texas 'core kings Power Trip. The fast and nasty riffing on "When the Dust Clears" was absurdly aggressive, and the crowd was diggin' it. Their legendary SoCal fellows in Phobia went over even better. Powered by the flying sticks of drummer Brian Fajardo, the grindcore squad bashed out short, high-energy bursts of ear-shattering noise, prompting the first circle pit of the evening.
Much like the night's headliners, Phobia mixes in a very generous dosage of old-school hardcore punk into their alarming grind attack, and wave after wave of abused riffs whipped fans into a bug-eyed trance state during pointed tunes such as "Contradiction" and "Death to False Punks." Classic grindcore true-believers were savoring every distorted note.
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Anticipation for Extreme Noise Terror had been building all night, so it was a bit of a let-down next when U.K. death metal survivors Desecration made an unbilled appearance. Near as I could tell, the firmly old-school three-piece were the same instrumentalists who played a bit later with ENT. They sounded good switching up punishing blast-beats with slow, monstrous death riffs on songs like "Cemetery Sickness," but most of the audience lingered outside, waiting for Extreme Noise Terror's dual vocalists to appear.
And when they did, things got wild in a hurry. The fiercely political grind of "Religion is Fear" and the anti-fascist screed "Human Error" churned up a nice pit, indeed. Things weren't much safer onstage, where vocalist Dean Jones, possibly not as sober as he could've been, swung a rapidly disintegrating mike stand around. After tripping himself up, he finished one song on his knees, pumping both fists in the air. The crowd ate it up.
The Desecration boys brought the metal riffage, new singer Ben McCrow delivered the hardcore fury and Jones provided the punk attitude in ENT's sound. It was one of the sicker blends of punk, death and grind that Fitzgerald's has played host to in recent years, deeply agitating all who could hear it. Between blasts, audience members screamed out song titles, demanding ever-increasing speed and insanity.
And well past midnight, Extreme Noise Terror delivered it. Wednesday morning seemed to arrive way sooner than advertised. Probably because I could no longer hear it coming.
Personal Bias: Patchless.
The Crowd: Weeknight grind freaks.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Get a fuckin' haircut!"
Random Notebook Dump: Terrific, horrific merch at this one.
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