Having now become an annual celebration of a varied, if not classic line up, the Headbanger’s Ball has once again reached its end. Ending the tour in Britain’s capital, its an interesting mix for this year. Flying the flag for the youngster are Deserted Fear, whilst melodic doomers Insomnium come to claim their Melodic Death Metal throne, before the arrival of Overkill and headliners Return To Roots.
Sadly missing the first act, I was happily greeted with the arrival of Insomnium as I got to the venue. Releasing their most ambitious record to date, Winter’s Gate has seen the band ascend onto some top quality bills. The record, a one track 40 minute opus is one of the band’s finest to date. Sadly however tonight the band have gone for more of a “best of” set list. Regardless, its interesting to see how the band have grown with each release from the days of Above The Weeping World with “The Killjoy” right up to the present day with more material surfacing from Shadows of A Dying Each member firing on all cylinders tonight despite this being the last night of the tour. Their brand of melancholic aggression hits the perfect spot amongst the crowd tonight, occasionally blowing gusts of Black Metal to the audience its the perfect amuse bouche to our next band.
Forever an enigma to me, Overkill on record have always struck me a distinctively average, however their live performance is something altogether different. Bounding out of the shadows, the lights turn that iconic green signalling the arrival of our New Jersey mobsters. Sporting a Bronson style moustache the banshee that is Bobby Blitz screeches out lyrics from the band’s new album whilst backed up by his cohorts on “Mean Green Killing Machine“. Bursting at the seems the band are a veritable ball of energy, giving it their all. Lead guitarist …. flinging out pitch perfect solos on the likes of “Ironbound” but its fan favourite of “Hello, From The Gutter” that sets the night ablaze.
Its not just the band that has suddenly sprung into action either, the crowd behind us has collectively lost their minds at the band’s arrival. As the taunting words of “don’t be a pussy” come out from Blitz, its hard to see just how Overkill haven’t ever reached that upper echelon of Thrash Metal bands. Incorporating every member of the audience into their set, the most important feat the band pull off is to let everyone have fun. Smiles all round as headbangers live up to their name, Overkill are easily the highlight of tonight’s set and giving me a damn good reason to give The Grinding Wheel another spin.
Eponymous in its creation and the rallying cry for an entire generation, the impact of Roots should never be overlooked. Responsible for creating all manner of bands, its influence is wide reaching. Returning to The Forum for a second time, the Cavalera brothers have brought their classic record to the brits once more. Performing Roots in its entirety might seem a ballsy move but its no doubt what fans of the two brothers have eagerly been awaiting for years to come. As Max Cavalera howls out “Roots Bloody Roots” it is hard not to feel its infectious groove making you want to move though its a fantastic moment when Max Cavalera brings out traditional Brazilian instrument beginning “Attitude” twanging away.
Somewhat of a nostalgia trip, the duo bring, for most some of the audience’s fondest Metal memories to the fore with this full play through of Sepultura’s classic record. Seeing the rafters positively shake for “Ratamahatta” its a sight to behold as almost everyone here in The Forum tonight leaps up and down. Of course there are the usual highlights of performing an album in its entirety but its the conviction with which the band play that has me the most drawn in. Despite it not being, to my personal taste, you’ve got to agree that the Cavalera brothers know how to get a crowd going.
Closing out the evening after successful run through of the classics the band have brought together a truly fantastic performance that will no doubt see fans happy and commemorate the landmark album in suitable fashion. Bringing together the pedigree of Metal from all sorts of different genres, The Headbangers ball has once again secured its place in the eclectic melee it hosts every year.