Campaign For Musical Destruction Tour 2009 in Virginia

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Friday, April 24, 2009 @ 8:00 PM

At Jaxx

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“Blame it on Jesus!”

Such was one showgoer’s repeated lament for the technical cock-ups, sound problems, false starts and other snafus that plagued an otherwise jarring evening of extreme metal when the “Campaign For Musical Destruction Tour 2009” — featuring Napalm Death, Kataklysm and Toxic Holocaust, among others —played just outside of D.C. And since this was Easter Sunday, it kinda made you wonder if karma had come into play – especially after Toxic Holocaust bashed out nuggets like “666” and “Nuke The Cross.”

Napalm’s resident atheist frontman Barney Greenway, however, wasn’t buying the “blame Jesus” talk. “I would, if he existed,” Greenway cracked. But it was a tough slog for Napalm during the first part of their hour-plus set. First, Greenway’s mic cut out. Then guitarist Mitch Harris’ did the same. The sound mix had no bottom end from the get-go and drummer Danny Herrera’s monitor problems led to a couple misfires, most notably when the band launched into “I Abstain,” which they promptly stopped, then started over.

It wasn’t until six or seven songs in, with “Life and Limb” from their fantastic new album Time Waits For No Slave, that the kinks worked themselves out and the sound thickened as Shane Embury’s rumbling bass took on its rightful place amid Napalm’s trademark microburst fury.

By that time, it was pretty obvious that something other than divine retribution was to blame for the problems. While these many-band package tours are usually notable for their efficient, git-‘em-off, git-‘em-on, set changes. Not so here. Despite having the most Spartan of backlines — literally one amp and a drum riser — change-overs took forever. Once the roadies got started, that is. After 10-15 minutes of no activity, crew and/or band members would suddenly emerge to start throwing together drum kits, tune instruments, plug shit in and hang backdrops. Then, boom! Show time — until something crapped out. And Napalm’s soundman seemed mystified by the soundboard at Jaxx, where the band have played many times. While he randomly twisted knobs, another crew member scrambled back and forth between board and stage checking cable connections (when he wasn’t swapping out malfunctioning mics) until, finally, they figured what was coming out of what channel and got the mix fixed. I thought that’s what sound checks were for!

The bands, to their credit, took all the hiccups in stride. Toxic Holocaust cranked out a brisk half-hour of stripped down, throwback thrash with a hint of old school punk that really smoked.

Canadian veterans Kataklysm endured monitor issues that made for some delays and fiddling about, but the band’s sound was bold and menacing all the way through. While I think most of Kataklysm’s albums are mediocre at best, live they kill, thanks to lots of experience on tours just like this. Led by demonstrative frontman Maurizio Iacono, the band’s 45-minute set was a potent mix of full-on death metal brutality and crunchy, mosh-worthy riffing that went down like gangbusters.

Once they were finally able to get rolling, Napalm Death roared like a jet engine. Culling the bulk of their set from No Slave and the usual blitzkrieg of golden oldies — “Deceiver,” “From Enslavement to Obliteration,” “The Kill” and, of course, the second-long “You Suffer” — the band put a priority on velocity as Herrera spit out blast beats like machine-gun fire.

The crushing new track “On the Brink of Extinction” and 2006’s “Persona No Grata/Smear Campaign” offered the closest thing there was to a mid-tempo lull before Napalm would blast off again with the breakneck “Diktat” or “Suffer The Children.” The furious cover of the Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” closed things out, as usual, in fine style.

Here’s hoping the rest of the tour’s shows run a little smoother.

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