Gama Bomb – Camden Underworld

By Andy

Never ones to turn down a challenge, Punktastic is stepping out of the comfort zone tonight and heading down to the Underworld (no, that part?s not out of the comfort zone) for a bit of a thrash metal throwdown (that bit is). But hey, we like to think, rightly or wrongly, that we can headbang with the best of them. Irish thrashers GAMA BOMB embark on a short tour this week to sign off their 09 album, ?Tales From The Grave In Space? before heading for the studios and a new record. So, let the hair-flinging commence.

Openers ABADDEN [4/5] play thrash the old way. Fast, remorseless and strictly no-nonsense. The Dunstable quartet are treated to an unusually busy Sunday evening Underworld crowd, an audience that is paying devout attention, not to mention stage-diving from the off. In the space of 30 minutes the band manages to furiously impress with their professional approach and with some seriously solid songs.

THE WAY OF PURITY [2/5] sit on this bill like an ill-fitted clog. The sextet purge the room with the deepest of guttural shrieks and screams, playing a brand of death metal that, to the chagrin of the crowd, is more some kind of tired screamcore than thrash and feels, well, a little weak. There?s a real sense of gimmick going on (the band is clad in balaclavas and masks, all except picturesque singer, Tiril Sk†rdal, that is) and it?s hard to be impressed. It?s also of no help that there are all kinds of issues going on with the guitar sound.

Like Abadden, MUTANT [3/5] basically focus on straight-up thrash metal and are fairly decent at it. What the band lacks in variety is made up by frontman, Tom Luchtenstein?s amiable personality. It?s a fast set for the hometown band that sees the room busy itself with some suspect-looking stagedives and corner-infiltrating shredding.

For the first few songs you can?t help but fear that this particular GAMA BOMB [3.5/5] performance is going to be a rough one. The Underworld?s sound doesn?t seem to hold up and frontman, Philly Byrne?s vocals are all over the place, in and out of the mix. It?s painful listening. Thankfully things pick up a little bit, and while the sound is never spot on, it is at least bearable. The performance however, that?s another thing.

With a style that centralises the speed of thrash but incorporates more of a classic heavy-metal feel (think Black Sabbath), Gama Bomb prove to be an enjoyable watch, with much more of a focus on crowd interaction. Between practically every song the band stop to chat (shit), comically stupid at times. The sense of theatre works, most likely a result of the fact that the band are willing to have fun in a genre that all too often takes itself too seriously.

While the band are a little ring-rusty (it?s been a while since they hit the road) and the set is a little over-ambitious at 70 minutes long, it?s still a worthy showing. A handful of new songs (one gloriously titled something along the lines of ?The Streets Are Full Of Zombies, It?s Time To Eat All Flesh?) hint that the new material is going to be much of the same. Expect rapid, brutal songs about beer, blood, sex and violence. Tonight, that?s exactly what we get.