Thrash Hits

November 24th, 2009

Live: Alec Empire @ London Islington Academy – Thursday, 19 November 2009

Is Alec Empire ditching that pure-electro he’s been messing with to return to his Digital Hardcore ways? Hugh Platt is responsible for the excitable words; Paul Caudell takes the blame  for the exciting pictures.

Alec Empire Live November 2009 by Paul Caudell Thrash Hits

Sometimes, mankind is able to spot a devasting force of nature before it hits, we know when it arrives it’s going to shit the fuck out of everything and leave devastation in its wake, but we can’t move out of the way. I’m talking Hurricane Katrina, Mount St Helens, the eventual-destruction-of-mankind-at-the-hands-of-our-own-self-destructed-ecosystem sort of thing here.

And that’s Alec Empire tonight – an unstoppable, fuck-you-up-no-matter-what-you-do sonic force.

The Islington Academy is noticeably undersold tonight – whether or not this was due to poor promotion or the fact that this is Empire’s Past-Present-Future tour’s second visit to the UK in the space of six months is hard to say, but anyone who thought about attending only to bottle at the last minute missed out. Gone is the blonde-coiffured electro-poseur persona that Empire flirted with during the release of The Golden Foretaste of Heaven – the black-haired, black-booted figure that swaggers out on stage tonight is much closer to that Berlin noise sloganeer that won over his fanbase in the first place.

Alec Empire @ London Islington Academy photo gallery courtesy of Paul Caudell.

Empire has not reverted fully to that wiry stick of menace he was during the Intelligence and Sacrifice-era; while his long-neglected, Pantera-sampling riot-anthem ‘Everything Starts With A Fuck’ makes its welcome return to his setlist tonight, the bloodletting, psycho-stare rage of that era is mercifully absent. What we get tonight is much closer to the digi-punk snarl of his Futurist record – even his latter material tonight bristles with restless anger.

Watch the video to ‘Kiss of Death’ by Alec Empire

But it’s the encore that holds tonight’s unique selling point – three venom-soaked blasts of classic Atari Teenage Riot. Empire and Endo might no longer have access to the talents of Hanin Elias (living in seclusion on a tropical island – yep, for serious) or Carl Crack (on account of him…errr….being dead), but the triple-bill of ‘No Remorse’, ‘Destroy 2000 Years of Culture’ and ‘Revolution Action’ is as intense, as punishing, and as crushing as anthing by anyone that’s come out in the decade since these tracks were mainstays of Empire and Endo’s live performances. While these tracks are arguably supposed to be the Past part of the tour title’s promise, after tonight a little bit of us is hoping they’re representing the Future part too.

Alec Empire @ London Islington Academy setlist
The Ride
If You Live Or Die
New Man
Everything Starts With A Fuck
Killing Machine
On Fire (remix)
Night of Violence
Control Drug
Addicted To You
Kiss of Death
No Remorse
Destroy 2000 Years of Culture
Revolution Action