Live Review: Municipal Waste/GEL/Undeath, Brighton

We all love a bit of punk by the seaside, so our Alex went to The Arch in Brighton to sample some hardcore punk and thrash metal courtesy of Municipal Waste, GEL and Undeath.

It’s strange to think that punks and metalheads used to regard each other with suspicion, if not outright hostility. When did things begin to thaw?

Motörhead certainly helped in the late 70s, but it was arguably the early-to-mid 80s fledgling thrash scenes that kicked down any remaining barriers. The likes of DRI, Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies clearly owed as much of a debt to Minor Threat and Black Flag as to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, and to this day, there are plenty of bands breathing new life into crossover thrash and its similarly gnarly cousins.

Undeath’s rumbling, bass-heavy sound proves quite the test for those of us who haven’t fully digested our dinner yet (hey, it was early doors!).

Their vocalist certainly isn’t lacking in stage presence; the Mr Motivator of doom-tinged death metal, if you must. His exhortations for a chaotic pit go largely unheeded, but there’s still plenty of headbanging and devil-horn signs in the air; proof enough that hardcore and thrash crowds aren’t quite as closed minded as certain self-appointed tastemakers might have you believe. 

Undeath, The Arch Brighton, 5/10. Pic by Alex Goose.

After damn near obliterating London’s New Cross Inn back in February, and since receiving no end of plaudits their debut full-length ‘Only Constant’, you’d understand if GEL regarded this tour as something of a victory lap.

Thankfully, the New Jersey quintet still play with a ferocity and conviction of a band backed into a corner with plenty to prove. Beautifully bleak blasts of hardcore fury like ‘Out Of Mind’ and ‘The Way Out’ are prime examples of music as catharsis, and they’re greeted with the kind of delirium normally reserved for a headline act. The start of something big for GEL? Don’t bet against it.

GEL, The Arch Brighton, 5/10. Pic by Alex Goose

Municipal Waste were once regarded by some as something of a joke, thanks to their hard-partying antics and irreverent lyrics, but these people had clearly overlooked the Waste’s serious musical chops.

Tonight, Tony Foresta’s crew can’t fail in front of such a devoted audience, but they push the energy levels through the roof anyway, unleashing warp-speed thrash anthem after anthem with palpable glee. Be it old favourites from debut album ‘Waste ‘Em All’ or newer gem ‘Slime And Punishment’., they’re delivered with the kind of musicianship that would make Cliff Burton (RIP) proud, and the kind of snotty-nosed punk attitude that would make Darby Crash (also RIP) even prouder. 

Municipal Waste, The Arch, Brighton, 5/10/23. Pic by Alex Goose.

It’s a wondrous sight to watch the band play with the same youthful vigour that they did back in the mid-00s. Plus, a huge chunk of credit goes to the crowd; there’s a real sense of brother/sisterhood tonight, with folks picking each other up, helping each other surf, slapping high fives and generally looking out for each other.

A night well worth schlepping all the way from London to Brighton, and proof enough that the worlds of hardcore punk and thrash metal can co-exist just fine. Long may this frenetic friendship continue.

The tour continues throughout October- get dates and ticket info HERE

Main Photo Credit: Alex Goose

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