OBITUARY, EXODUS, Prong, King Parrot @Academy 2, Birmingham 29/10/16

Let the battle of the bays commence

You can tell Melbourne bruisers King Parrot mean business. Two of them – singer Youngy and bassist Slatts – have their tops off before we even start. With good cause too, their ferocious blend of grindcore, hardcore, punk and thrash ain’t about to die wondering and things get suitably sweaty pretty quick. Like some soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic world  where “Fucking Hostile” is the national anthem, these aren’t so much songs as battle cries. “Need No Savior” is brutal enough to scare Satan himself, “Shit On The Liver” is a sonic beatdown, and King Parrot are a seriously mean proposition.

From the band that seemingly wants to hit you over the head with a breeze-block to the one that wants to “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck”. Prong have very pleasingly become frequent visitors to these shores in the last 2-3 years and for 45 minutes here they display nearly why those jaunts are always welcome. In a set that is from the heavier end of their spectrum – tonight after all isn’t an evening where revenge is best served cold if you will, but with a baseball bat – “Beg To Differ” slays and “Ultimate Authority” is like driving a tank into a model village. Tommy Victor and his boys are perhaps never given enough credit for being genuine innovators but this tight, taut thrash has been their signature for getting on for three decades. The moshpits go crazy to “Who’s Fist Is This Anyway” as well their anthem about fingers, necks and the snapping thereof and this is Prong at the top of their considerable game.

If the fact that Exodus reunited with  Steve “Zetro” Souza a while ago was cause for rejoicing, then tonight proves why he’s the only man who should ever sing in this band. The hour they are here is largely from the old school stuff of their catalogue – notable exceptions being “The Ballad of Leonard And Charles” and the fabulous “Body Collector” – but old school or new school doesn’t really matter when you’re dealing with the band that makes clear that The Big Four was one too short. “Blacklist” is dedicated to Ozzy, “War Is My Shepherd” to Lemmy and then there’s the  of killer end. “Bonded By Blood” is simply classic, “Toxic Waltz” gloriously dumb and “Strike of the Beast….” positively anthemic. At its end Zetro screams with glee the words “Heavy Metal Forever” and its hard to disagree. As long as it beats in the hearts of Exodus and the bands like them, then the music invented right here isn’t gonna die.

So it falls to Obituary to take the honour of finishing the evening, and did anyone think they weren’t going to grab the opportunity? Bathed in blood red lighting with the smoke machines going off, the band are shrouded in almost secrecy as they begin with “Internal Bleeding” and it is an interesting thought that the band are almost an amalgamation of what has gone before them on the bill. Included are the thrilling hour is the brutality of the openers, the tightness of Prong, and the classic thrash element of the outfit that preceded them together with a death metal sensibility and a near Sabbathy type doom twist here and there. Theirs is a world where the music does the talking, John Tardy cuts a hypnotic presence on vocals rather than a chatty one, but there is a class about the title track of the new record “Ten Thousand Ways To Die”. “Don’t Care” seethes with a nihilism – and that ends the main set, as Obituary’s one concession to being headliners is to afford themselves an encore which ends with an incredible “Slowly We Rot”.

So who emerged victorious from the Battle Of The Bays? East or West Coast? Well how about this, Bruce Springsteen always says nobody wins unless everybody wins. That seems to sum this evening up.