Faith No More & Napalm Death @ Austin Music Hall – July 26, 2015
words by Jay H. Gorania
images by Richard Guerrero
Many have been picking up their jaws from the floor since Faith No More’s reunion in 2009, and those jaws have repeatedly smashed to the ground with the news of additional tours and the recent release of Sol Invictus, their first album in 17 years. More recently, their segment of fans inclined toward the more heavy end of the musical spectrum were delightfully caught off guard by the unexpected announcement that Faith No More’s opening band would be none other than Napalm Death for the tour’s three dates in Texas.
This was the first show of Faith No More’s North American tour, selling-out the 4,600-capacity venue in a matter of days. A seemingly endless line of people wrapped alongside the venue and around street corners prior to doors under the blistering Texas sun.
While the pairing may seem to be random to some, the two groundbreaking bands have had a long-standing connection and friendship. Napalm bassist Shane Embury attended one of Faith No More’s in-store meet-and-greets during the time of their touring cycle for the game-changing release Angel Dust. There was apparently mutual adoration abound as Faith No More bassist Billy Gould stood up from behind the table to greet Shane upon recognizing that he was Napalm Death’s bassist. Shane subsequently invited the band to Earache’s offices since Faith No More expressed their appreciation for many of the bands on the label’s roster. As the years went on the two bassists would share time in the death metal “all-star” band Brujeria.
The notion of Napalm Death playing for thousands of people isn’t a shock. They play large festivals across the world quite often; however, they haven’t regularly played shows of this size in North America since touring with Sepultura in the early nineties.
Napalm and Faith No More have a definite crossover in fan base, though that segment is minimal within the overall scope of Faith No More’s audience. Some Napalm diehards were maniacally screaming for Napalm Death, though they were sparsely scattered or squeezed up front. The band’s general reception seemed to be marked with inquisitive staring and an overall sense of appreciation.
Napalm Death was reliably ferocious, firing on all cylinders like a metallic Trojan horse ramming through the mainstream’s barrier with classics like “Suffer the Children.” Guitarist John Cooke did a formidable job of filling in for Mitch Harris both in terms of guitar playing as well as in providing backing vocals to Barney Greenway, whose lion-like roar ceased only between songs when he addressed the crowd with his gentlemanly British accent and uplifting personal and sociopolitical banter.
The stage was covered with countless pretty flowers following the ear-drum popping madness in preparation for Faith No More. There was an interesting contrast from the get-go, indeed.
Eclectic is their nature but not for its own sake. Whether it’s a passage laden with groove or funk sensibilities, or a crunching, heavy metal head-banger, Faith No More performs not only with great precision but also with an undeniable sense of passion. Their members may have put on a few pounds over the years. They might be greyer up top. But they performed with youthful exuberance. Classic cuts like “Midlife Crisis” were played to massive applause, though there was a definite focus upon the new album.
And yes, Mike Patton’s mind-boggling performance made those “Who died and made you Mike Patton?” shirts seem very appropriate. He really is that good.