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Extreme the Dojo vol 32 - Napalm Death, Eyehategod, Misery Index, Melt-Banana

Live Reviews Monday, 11 March 2019 15:49
Extreme the Dojo vol 32 - Napalm Death, Eyehategod, Misery Index, Melt-Banana

Extreme the Dojo vol 32. Napalm Death, Eyehategod, Misery Index, Melt-Banana

March 5, 2019, Club Quattro, Osaka, Japan


By Ryan Dyer


Extreme the Dojo is a metal concert variety series in Japan which usually brings together three or four big name acts together in one show. Held in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo, the likes of Nasum, Obituary, Melvins, High on Fire, Nile, Municipal Waste, Behemoth, Pig Destroyer and of course Napalm Death have locked up at the dojos. Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals will take part in volume 33 of the series. Obviously, the forerunners of these events have great taste.


Volume 32 saw four huge underground acts together under one roof - Napalm Death, Eyehategod, Misery Index and Melt-Banana. In Osaka, it was held in Club Quattro - a livehouse which used to be a cinema on the 10th floor of a building in the center of Umeda, Osaka’s bar and club district. The show brought together a variety of different people - crust punks, veteran metalheads who have been to several dojos - sporting t-shirts from past events, a handful of foreigners and the odd three-piece suit clad business man. There seemed to be no sense of elitism in the crowd as everyone felt in place as they chatted among each other in the t-shirt line or smoke room before the bands started.


First up was Japan’s Melt-Banana, a legendary noise/grind/experimental project who would merit a trip to Japan alone. The band has had a long relationship with Napalm Death, touring with them and the Melvins on their 2016 tour. The two piece of Yasuno Onuki and Ichirou Agata best exemplify the feeling of walking around cyberworld districts like Shibuya or Dotonbori - a sensory overload of lights and sounds - high pitched chirping emanating maid cafe girls, and post-metal guitar bordering on hyperreal with programmed bass, drums and electronic blips and bleeps blanketing the audio canvas like a digital hot spring.


Ichirou, clad in a medical mask, utilized a deli tray of pedals while Onuki waved around her hand held beat sequencing device like a replicant sorceress through their half hour set, starting with “Feedback Deficiency” on through tracks from their latest highly acclaimed album Fetch, through their earlier efforts. “My Missing Link” is a suitable name for the experience Melt-Banana brings - obviously influencing countless female sung, hybrid bands since their inception, but by being based in Japan, a bit obscure unless a special occasion brings them overseas. The fans at Extreme the Dojo, however, seemed more interested in the foreign riff mongers who followed, and besides myself, I think only three or four other people bought Melt-Banana shirts. Maybe they had seen them too often and the novelty had worn off - but to me it was something of a revelation and homecoming. It was the right move to have Melt-Banana play first, as their jarring brand of music would no doubt alter the vibe brought by the next three bands.


Up next were Baltimore’s Misery Index, who after Melt-Banana, brought a more streamlined and straightforward ass kicking to the Japanese crowd. This was meat and potatoes without any wasabi. It is worth noting now that the sound quality at these Japanese concerts is absolutely top notch. The crunching riffs sounded crisper here than on CD, I dare say. The crowd was ready to throw down now as the band crushed through songs from their five previous releases before unleashing a new track from their upcoming Rituals of Power LP. Guitarist Darrin Morris wowed the crowd with showman like poses while the rest of the band grinded away. The crowd ate it up and chanted when appropriate, such as during their anti-anthems “Traitors” or “Heretics”. The band travelled several hours overseas for these few dojo shows, and made sure they made their mark on the audience, who were aching for more when all was said and done.


Now let’s slow the tempo down to the speed of sap dripping down a maple tree near Minoh waterfall. The Louisiana sludge legends Eyehategod took the dojo to an alter of feedback worship as the band played for a very eager audience who had not seen Eyehategod in Japan for a number of years.


Starting with “Lack of Almost Everything” and “Jack Ass in the Will of God”, the riffs and agitated screams of the band no doubt brought flashbacks to the older members of the audience of the legal days of mushroom usage in Japan. Mike Williams groaned on tracks like “Agitation! Propaganda” but between songs joked in jest with guitarist Jimmy Bower about how quiet the crowd were - as is custom in Japan. The crowd will applause enthusiastically once the song ends but won’t shout out like barbarians as the band preps for the next offering.


Their latest self-titled album was featured heavily, with “Parish Motel Sickness” and “Medicine Noose” appearing, with Bower raising his mic stand and cord like a makeshift rope before letting in to the lyrics of the latter. ‘This song is about fucking your sister,’ was the cue for “Sisterfucker (Part 1)” followed by its sequel. The set ended with the monolithic sludge jam of “Run it into the Ground” from their debut In the Name of Suffering and as the feedback faded, fans went to the bar for one more drink before as the Godfathers of sludge left the stage and the Godfathers of grind set up to destroy it.


Britain’s Napalm Death are no stranger to Japan, playing the Extreme the Dojo event before with Nasum and Pig Destroyer, as well as other small tours throughout their 30-plus year existence. They have a connection with the crowd and judging by the hype of the people there and number of t-shirts sported by the Japanese fans, were the act most wanted to see this evening.


“Unchallenged Hate” broke down the doors as an opening track. Pits immediately opened and the packed room suddenly folded in on itself like a sushi roll. Roarer Barney Greenway has the admirable quality of going from Tasmanian devil mode during tracks like “Smash a Single Digit” and “Everyday Pox” to civil humanitarian in his between-song speeches. He preached to the audience about peace, love and understanding - stating that every person on planet earth deserves to live a comfortable, happy life. And what is a happier time than experiencing the legendary Napalm Death slam through “Suffer the Children” and “Scum”?


From their latest compilation album, Coded Smears and More Uncommon Slurs came “Standardization” a track about ‘How the higher ups want to make every person completely stagnant and like everyone else’. From their latest LP, Apex Predator - Easy Meat, they unleashed “Cesspits” ‘A song about people dying in pits from making shit we don’t need. How fucking ironic.’ “You Suffer” and “Dead” were played consecutively, ‘Two very harmonious tracks’ quipped Greenway while catching his breath afterwards. The audience cheered politely before another pocket of silence - which brought fourth “Silence is Deafening”. When the last seconds of its crunchy breakdown ended, more silence, ‘How fucking appropriate’ laughed Greenway. The set came to a close with their cover of the Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks - Fuck Off” and their classic “Siege of Power”.


‘We will be back in a few years - it’s like clockwork.’ Indeed, how the years condemn, but they also bring gifts like a grindcore family reunion with the Godfathers.

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Written by  Ira Hunter
Ira Hunter

Ira Hunter

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