Battle of The Bays European Tour: Obituary + Exodus + Prong + King Parrot @ O2 Academy 2, Birmingham – Saturday 29 October 2016


Arses, fists, crowdsurfing Stormtroopers, and death, rotten death…

Witnessed by Jason Guest

Any gig by Obituary, Exodus or Prong is enough to get anyone into Birmingham at any time of year. Put all three of them on one bill and many a long-locked, healthily bearded, tattooed and t-shirted metal head will endure deadly decibel levels and very over-priced beer (£5 for Guinness poured out of a can!). Imagine the Home of Metal’s excitement when this baby was announced…

Melbourne, Australia’s King Parrot are so excited to be in the home of metal that the audience gets a few sightings of vocalist Matt Young’s arse. Charming. But given the grimaces that he pulls and the pounding that these guys give the still-filling venue tonight in their brief but brutal 30-minute set, we barely notice. Thrash, grind and a bit of punk thrown into the murderous mix, their set is a violent blast that quickly wins over more than a few in attendance. And as grateful as they are for the warm welcome they receive from metal’s birthplace, they more than deserve it. Released through Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records, their album Dead Set is worth checking out while we await the next one and, hopefully, their return.

With their latest album X (No Absolutes) released earlier this year (and reviewed here) and only one UK date in March in support of it, being back on these shores as part of this tour Prong are more than welcome. Playing the crowd and playing an all-too-brief 35-minute set, Tommy Victor walks on stage and immediately owns the venue and plays it like his band is the headline act. Sandwiched between opener ‘Eternal Heat’ from 2012’s Carved Into Stone and ‘Ultimate Authority’ from the latest album, ‘Beg to Differ’ and ‘Unconditional’ get the crowd going and their choice of classics mixed with more recent material going down a storm. And closing out the set with ‘Another Worldly Device’, a rapid ‘Whose Fist Is This Anyway’ and the band’s anthem ‘Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck’, Prong’s set list is too short for this very appreciative crowd. Rock on Tommy!

King Parrot punished us, Prong snapped our necks, and so now it’s up to thrash legends Exodus to bring the party. A huge welcome for the band as they enter the stage and then, with ‘The Ballad of Leonard and Charles’ to open proceedings, the moshpit erupts and many an airborne body makes its way towards the stage and over the barrier. ‘Blood In, Blood Out’, ‘Body Harvest’, ‘Blacklist’, ‘Bonded by Blood’ and ‘The Toxic Waltz’ keep the energy high, the beer flying and the bodies slamming. The band is tight and the performance is intense and, horns held high and heads banged hard, there’s not one person in the crowd that isn’t part of this. Zetro is the consummate frontman, greeting all that go over the barrier – Stormtrooper included – with a high five, pointing out members of the crowd that he spots singing along – which is everybody! – and thanking us all for our support these past 30+ years. Delivering gigs like this, they’ll always have an audience. Old school rules!

Having had their fill of grind, industrial and thrash, it’s a deadly dose of death metal that this crowd needs, and so who better than the legend that is Obituary to deliver it? The pit stays wide open and the bodies still come and the pioneers of death metal, as ever, deliver a set that is flawless. As relaxed onstage as their music is intense, they raise many a mighty cheer as they play songs that span their whole career, confirming exactly why Obituary have long been heralded as both progenitor and benchmark of death metal. John Tardy, centre-stage beneath a mass of grunting and growling hair, delivers a commanding performance, as does brother Don, his drumming pure precision and unremitting force. And with the deadly guitar- and bass-work of Trevor Peres, Kenny Andrews and Terry Butler slaying it, their set gets the reception it deserves from both crowd and frenzied pit. Closing with what we all knew was coming, ‘Slowly We Rot’, one fact is abundantly clear: old school rules! With a new album dropping in 2017, hopefully it won’t be too long before they’re back in Blighty again. And if they want to bring Exodus with them again, we won’t complain…