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Gojira + Code Orange + Car Bomb @ Academy, Birmingham – 11 March 2017

The best Birmingham has seen Gojira perform…

Words by Jason Guest

If you’d never heard Car Bomb before, you’d be forgiven for thinking the CD was broke, the vinyl was scratched, your internet connection was faulty or your download had one or two glitches. Their 2012 album w^w^^w^w (no, I don’t know how you say it either) took me by surprise. Good music does that. A bit of research and the band’s development since 2007’s Centralia was outstanding. Then last year came album number three, Meta. With riffs-that-shouldn’t-work-but-somehow-do juxtaposed with riffs-that-really-shouldn’t-make-sense-but-do driven by spasmodic drumming and danced over by sometimes-roaring and sometimes-singing vocals, Car Bomb are that ‘something else’ amongst many other ‘something else’s. And the way the band writes – hacking riffs and beats to bits and pasting them together with a drum machine – this could so easily fall apart live. But no. Not once. When this car bomb explodes, bits fly all over the place and hit all the intended marks. Precise and penetrating, on stage, Car Bomb are as intense as they are on record.

Ball-bouncing breakdowns, “fuk da h8rs” lyrics and perpetually-pissed-off posturing, deathcore, metalcore, whatevercore does nothing for me. And on first glance, Code Orange – a new name on me until this gig was announced – could easily be dismissed as just another run-of-the-mill band intent on making a name for themselves through negative attention rather than musical ability. But a few listens to recently-released Forever reveals a band with much more to offer than the glut of self-defined “edgy” (and woefully mediocre) bands out there. Their early material still stands but the new material is a cut above and so dropping the “kids” part of their name was a wise move. Another wise move was getting on this tour. Live, they bring all the fire and fury that burns at the heart of their music to the stage. Though a bit strange to have drummer Jami Morgan dealing with most of the vocals, the rest of the band – guitarist/vocalist Reba Meyers in particular – fill the stage with all of the raw energy that their hardcore and punk roots can deliver.

Gojira’s development from a technical death metal band with a twist into whatever the hell they are today is phenomenal. As evidenced by last year’s Magma, their albums continue to be an improvement on the last. And given the quality of each of their albums, that’s no mean feat. There are few bands that command a stage like Gojira. The crowd know it and so, when the band enter the stage, both become one, the sheer power of the band and their material devoured by the crowd and thrust back at them through in a room heaving with horns and hair and banging heads hammering along to the band’s mighty mechanical chugs. So much so that the Academy threatens to collapse under the weight of Gojira’s performance. Masters of their craft, this evening is the best Birmingham has seen them perform.

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