Despite the naysayers being their usual self, I for one was impatient to discover my new cross-over overlord in Iron Reagan. Worse than dead had already filled me with joy, as most release on A389 Records, but their signature to Relapse and their sophomore album helped me go through one of the worst year of my life. I was, therefore, impatient to finally see how good they were onstage.
First, since SSS had cancelled, there was one opening band to go through and I must admit that I was far from convinced from the get go. I had never heard of them but Freebase seemed to have been around the UK Hardcore scene for a while and their style seems to testify of this. Stuck somewhere between Suicidal Tendencies and Merauder, they have the riffs and the attitude of both but nowhere near the energy and the songs. However, as the show progressed I must admit that I got over my first impression and enjoyed some of their set. The sound was definitely good, as it is frequently the case at the Underworld, and the musicians were competent despite some drumming problems (and some mistakes too). Maybe that with a more receptive crowd the show would have been more enjoyable but tonight they were definitely the kind of opening band people listen to politely while waiting for the main attraction.
The time had finally come and in those cases the ideas you have about a show are going to generally wrong. For example, I was expecting the show to be nearly sold-out and the public to go mad but the Sunday crowd was quite passive for most of the show. On stage however, no disappointment could be found, as the Municipal Reagan Corpse was in full force. Singer Tony Foresta (Municipal Waste) and drummer Ryan Parrish (Darkest Hour) form a solid comedic duo but the emphasis is definitely on the songs, even when the band goes through Your kid’s an asshole twice, « in case they were twins ».
Most of the set list is devoted to the last album, The tyranny of will, but some tunes from Worse than dead get some time such as Cycle of violence, Eat shit and live or instrumental I ripped Testament a new asshole. Foresta also surprises the crowd with a somewhat unexpected cover of Cannibal Corpse‘s Skull full of maggots. However, when you think that guitarist Landphill Hall also plays in the « Cannibal Corpse meets weed » band Cannabis Corpse, it makes a lot of sense. If it wasn’t for the « no crowd surfing if you stay on-stage too long » policy of the Underworld, the show could have been even crazier but a good time was had by most of the Reagan’s devoted as proven by how little merch was left after they played. Tony Foresta promised to come back soon and considering his general attitude to touring, I have no doubt they will.
The younger fans of the crowd were here for the youngest of the two headliners but the old ones were out to finally see a legend on stage. Sure, Terrorizer LA does not feature original bass player David Vincent (Morbid Angel) or original drummer Pete Sandoval (also of Morbid Angel) but both Oscar Garcia (Nausea, Terrorizer), still on the mic and Cosmo Reveles (Nausea) are old enough to have been part of the original line up. Also, when you consider that the role of the guitarist is filled by Leon Del Muerte, a legend in his own right, who played in Exhumed, Impaled, Nausea, and even Intronaut, you can safely call this an all star line-up.
As for the performance, stellar does not begin to describe it. Watching songs from World downfall being performed with so much confidence and power felt like watching the original band, or a young Napalm Death (Jesse Pintado was the band’s original guitarist and the band was formed in tribute to him) slay the crowd. Classic after classic interpreted with conviction and mastery. With his incredible right hand, Leon Del Muerte could be the resurrection of Pintado. As for Mike Caffell, he holds his own so well that his performance is on par with Sandoval‘s original recording. A killer line-up and a killer set-list from only one album, except the encore, Collapse, taken from the Before the downfall compilation. The spirit of old grindcore was in fine form.