Gama Bomb

support Seregon + Virus + Doctor Death
author EW date 08/11/09 venue Underworld, London, UK

When it comes to Metal and downright enjoyment the week preceding the Gama Bomb gig had been a very good one for me, so with gig (and guestlist) number 4 in 8 days arranged I armed myself with my patch jacket in preparation for an evening of pure British thrash, a feat which would have seemed inconceivable but 2 or 3 years ago.

Doctor Death

As was the case with all three support bands on this bill I knew of only their name, so short of determining it would be THRASH! all the way I had little in the way of expectations. Opening with the theme tune to the classic early '90s British TV programme "The Crystal Maze" (any non-Brits know of it?) was a great way to peek my interest whilst queuing for the evening's first beer before launching into songs from the band's two EPs thus far, "Weapons Of Mass Distraction" and "Boobzilla". Melding a style that to my ears resembled the exhilaration of Vio-Lence with Anthrax produced an excellently solid set of American-inspired thrash metal and a curious singer in Mike Fury. Curious in the fact he has an excellent set of pipes, sounding like Sean Killian (Vio-Lence) at large and Joey Belladonna (Anthrax) in his screams, yet demonstrates the stage confidence and demeanour of a newborn baby lamb. Had it not been for the headbanging and smiling enjoyment on the faces of his cohorts Doctor Death could have been an embarrassment; as it was however a sharpening of the edges and furtherance of a fledgling identity in the composition of songs like "Toxic Death" and "Psycho Picnic" should see Doctor Death catch the coattails of the UK thrash scene as it surely moves into it's phase of maturity.

Virus

Just by looking at the band members of Virus it was clear to all they are not of the youth of today, but in researching them the day after the show I am shocked to have never come across them before - the band released three albums in '87, '88 and '89, at a time when Britain fell far behind the US, Canada and Germany in the quality and quantity of it's thrash metal output. By the looks of it vocalist/guitarist Coke McFinlay is the only original member and his years of experience (even if the band did have a two-decade break in the middle) show in his relaxed style at the mike, exhorting the half-full Underworld to give it their best, which credit to them they do throughout the evening. Listening to the band's myspace now and hearing muddled underground 80s thrash of the kind only I on this site would get anything from, Virus sounded considerably more modern and tighter on stage than their recorded output suggests, feeling more extreme and akin to death metal than the simple thrash of Doctor Death before them. Picking out individual highlights would be difficult but at least Virus did no harm to the minor legacy their albums will have generated over the course of two decades of stagnation.

Seregon

The position of Bristol's Seregon just below the headliners of tonight's gig became abundantly clear almost immediately upon the introduction of a Sepultura-influenced death/thrash sound and some vicious headbanging from both band and crowd that had even a miserable old git like myself nodding along in appreciation. Showing the benefits of a capable and confident frontman in the Max Cavalera inspired James Moore, Seregon gave off a conviction that dared anyone to not enjoy their performance and crowd participation skills during songs like the driving "Band Of Brothers" before a cover of Sepultura's "Biotech Is Godzilla" (great choice of song!) confirmed my suspicions of a hefty Seps worship in the make-up of Seregon. A little web research leads to the all-round conclusion that Seregon have the potential to go places if they can avoid the inevitable cull of the thrash revival by fans and labels alike, and on the basis of their performance and a review of their songs on Myspace now I could not disagree at all. Taking the thrash template a step further than most by adding harsher elements from bands like Dew-Scented and Incubus (the Floridian metal band) Seregon did no wrong in their live performance, which suggests greater things as they continue to improve their recorded output.

8

Gama Bomb

Touring as extensively as they have done in recent times, Irish thrashers Gama Bomb are duty bound to have honed their live show, and if the charisma and frontmanship of Philly Byrne is anything to go by from this night at the Underworld the band most definitely have improved in big ways. The bands' hour long set was slightly weighted towards songs from their brand new and free to download album "Tales From The Grave In Space", lest forgetting excellent numbers like my favourite "Hammer Slammer" off last year's "Citizen Brain" record, though it was Byrne and the ceaseless stage diving from seemingly half those in attendance that made the Gama Bomb show what it was tonight. Regardless of one's opinion on Gama Bomb or thrash metal in general, the band's integrity must be appluaded through releasing a full length free of charge, a gig costing only £8 entrance and affordable merch over at the stall; all topped off off with a mightily infectious live show that belied it's performance in front of a half-full Underworld on a cold November Sunday night. It's hard to argue that Gama Bomb are doing anything but improving live as time goes on, and if they can continue to match this performance with varying and interesting live albums then their position near the top of the thrash revival tree will become further assured.

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