Four bands of different extreme kinds were on tonight’s menu. It’s Sunday evening. This beats the domestic torpor of watching “Countryfile”.

First on was Triangle Face, who according to my prior research play avant grind, whatever that is. I was of course about to find out. I was also pleased to learn that finally I was going to see a band from my home city of Cambridge. The three members Gary Midnight, The Leper and Mr Kripling come from the impressive Terra, and the now defunct Obscene Entity and Malignant Germ Infestation came on wearing a fine array of grotesque masks. TxF, as I understand they are known, dished up a doomy start with elements of psychedelic crust. From the outset, there was something disturbing and transforming about the patterns. The bassist come vocalist added to the occasion with his growly utterances, almost Immortal style. He swayed from foot to foot. The guitarist’s hair was over his mask. This was all very strange and ritualistic. The musical style switched to heavy metal melodies before transforming again into chunkier technically progressive patterns. The net result was that it all bordered on the deranged. This wasn’t easy listening and clearly a lot of thought had gone into these structures. On they rocked with their brand of heavy death complexity, tribal sounds, fast and hard metal and altogether controlled carnage. If I’m being picky, this was more death than grind but then it was everything in an extreme and heavy sense. I certainly got the avant-garde bit of it. It was a bizarre 30 minutes. Triangle Face took us into Hell with their atmospheres. Visually they were interesting but musically this was intriguing and even mind-blowing.

“Nutella grind messiness” is what Total Consumption promised us. The Aldi version is cheaper but maybe they don’t have one in their part of London. After Triangle Face’s masks, it was becoming a night for costumes. A man in a white chemical suit along with a nutty-looking guitarist in a railway high visibility jacket joined their more mundane-looking drummer on stage. After a farty version of Also Sprach Zarathustra, it was time for a bit of deep sludgy grindcore. No song lasted more than a couple of minutes, between which the man in the chemical suit entertained us with his witty diction, or something like that. Cat sick and bestial things were a theme, but all jokes apart, but let’s not forget the music, which comprised impressively delivered heavy deep growling grind brutality. After introducing “Coprophilic Guacamole”, the man in the chemical suit announced that there would now be some audience participation. He duly invited audience members to daub him with his preferred hazelnut chocolate spread, of which he had brought a jar. And so the air became rich with the aroma of Nutella. The mayhem continued with “Fangs”. The besmirched singer came out to embrace the loving audience. “I Hate Your Hate” became a singalong. The entertaining introductions continued, and we went through songs about mums and dogs and refugees and origami zoos and Victor Meldrew. Looking at the man in the brown-stained chemical suit, a song about washing machines might have been appropriate. “Who likes wanking?” he asked, progressing the conversation. “Wank to Extinction” finished the set. Total Consumption gave us a riot, great fun and pungent music. Hail Nutella!

I knew about Black Skies Burn and am sure I had seen them somewhere along the line, but can’t remember where. They certainly have the credentials with an album “To Punish and Enslave” (2013), a couple of eps and a 2017 split with the glorious title “Brian Blessed are the Sick” to their name, numerous festival appearances and a forthcoming slot supporting Suffocation. This four piece from Didcot – well almost as they had to borrow Triangle Face’s drummer – banged out the pure death “Dead by Association”. “This one goes out to our manager cos he’s a dickhead”, announced the lead singer who wore a matching camouflage hat and shorts. “10% of Fuck All” followed. Here was pure energy. The sound was hugely powerful. So it all went on – politically incorrect, violent, brutal, aggressive and venomous. There’s something punkish about Black Skies Burn. This was the loudest and most intense band so far. But the guys were a good laugh too and let us into their fun. The guitarist pointed out that they’d missed out on the dance part of “Ashes to Ashes, Turd to Turd”. The band were of course disadvantaged by having a borrowed drummer, who apparently had missed this critical 12 seconds. So before we had “Grindcore 20”, they had another go and we had our 12 seconds of chaos. The set degenerated for a while, but not in a hazelnut chocolate spread sense. It took the singer longer to announce one of the tracks than it did to play it. Three songs in 10 seconds, and a few which weren’t much longer, did make it disjointed but this is the territory for that. Black Skies Burn crew kept up the entertainment and intensity nevertheless, and there was plenty of crowd action. “Mass Hallucination” was the band at their technical best. “Jouez un beatdown”, the final song, was so bloody heavy that I thought they were going to go through the floor. The guitarist from Total Consumption led the crowd action. It was intense. Black Skies Burn deserve credit for the entertaining way they manage brutality and chaos.

The headliners tonight were Cerebral Extinction from Italy, who with Black Skies Burn have been on a three day UK tour. Three big hairy buggers and a smaller but equally hairy guitarist took to the stage. Drumming was provided by samples, which the lead vocalist programmed between songs. All the vocalists this evening had given their all, but this one looked like he was going to burst a blood vessel as he faced down and growled to his set list on the floor. The drum sounded artificial of course, although it did become less noticeable, but there was something missing in the atmosphere. And yet in spite of this Cerebral Extinction went about their business brutalizing the masses, well at least the 20 odd who stayed to watch them. I really liked the deep and chunky technical riffs. Meanwhile the lead singer growled the song titles incomprehensibly through his long hair as he turned his back to the audience in order to programme the PC. I did pick out words like “Part 2” and “Obscure”, and afterwards got the set list from the band, so I do know they were playing tracks from their latest album “Necro Parasite Anomaly”. It gave me the urge to want to listen to it, especially if it’s this technically intense. What wasn’t doing the band any favours was the visual spectacle. Musically the band was grinding us down and it was impressive, but there was so little animation that it was like static death. The vocalist battled on. His voice got lost at one point in his hair and three days of incessant growling but he recovered. The instrumentalists played on but all looked serious and nervous. This was a great technical band but there was little stage energy. I actually felt sorry for the overworked vocalist who needed a bit of help with his multi-tasking. Yet as the audience thinned out – the Sunday effect, maybe – I was totally impressed with the thunderous and constantly heavy sound wall, and the utter menace in the guitar work. These were good strong songs to get your teeth into. The atmospheres were intense. The brutal death process continued. Technically this band is very gifted, shame about the spectacle although the lead singer’s unrelenting endeavours over the whole piece were unwittingly intriguing and impressive. Inevitably it all ended heavily with what I found out afterwards was “Collision Identity”. It brought to an end a 45 solid minutes of dirty technical riffs and slamming brutality. As all the bands here tonight, Cerebral Extinction are good at what they do.

Andrew Doherty