Opening the evening’s proceedings to a rather quiet and lacklustre crowd, Norway’s Tantara deserve a much better reaction. That’s not to say they didn’t get some heads banging towards the end, but with songs as finely honed as ‘Mass Murder’ and ‘The Killing Of Mother Earth’, they are sure to be headliners before long and earn a circle pit but it never materialised. Their debut Fleming Rasmussen-produced album “Based On Evil” is worth checking out and I was sufficiently convinced by the ferocity of their performance to buy a copy at the end of the evening. Heathen, Exodus and early Megadeth influences abound and their lead guitarist Isak has the fluidity and aggressive fretwork of a young Mustaine.

Then it’s time for a cheeky death metal interlude. Now there’s old school and then there’s the textbook for the school itself. Master are part of the history of death metal that seems to have been forgotten, but along with Death, Massacre, Autopsy and Obituary they were an integral force in the emergence of this newer, uglier spawn of the thrash genre. Still kicking arses and cracking skulls, Paul Speckmann is such an immense presence on stage and the steroid Motörhead cacophony that fills the Institute is unearthly and yet catchy as hell. New track ‘The Witch Hunt’ gets an airing and it’s clear they still have that irrepressible death groove magic as well as a heaving barrel full of dirty riffs.

Not many bands that came to prominence in the 80s and then called it a day as the 90s dawned have made such a solid and consistent return to the fold as Bristol’s thrash stalwarts Onslaught. 2005’s “Killing Peace” was not simply a band trading on former glories, but energised, hungry and ready to take on any and all newcomers. Their last offering “The Sound Of Violence” was another fine effort, but with “VI” they really have excelled themselves.

So it is a very welcome opening salvo of new album kickstarter ‘Chaos is King’ and the battering ram ‘Killing Peace’ that launches an evening of thrash classics. Managing to flit from old to new with dexterity, Sy and co. treat us to a selection of early moshers and newer chuggers, with the ever present menace of that dual-guitar attack. Andy Rosser-Davies fits so well with Nige Rockett and it’s as if they’ve been in the band together since day one.

‘Born For War’, ‘Let There Be Death’, ‘Metal Forces’, ‘Burn’, ‘Shellshock’, ‘Power From Hell’…. they just keep coming. There is no filler, just one classic after another, and brand new numbers like ‘Fuel For My Fire’ and ’66Fucking6′ sound even more energetic than on the album. It just saddens me that there are a couple of hundred people here instead of a couple of thousand. Why the hell aren’t they selling out the Academy?! Come on people – you know how good Megadeth used to be, how ferocious Slayer used to be and how lean and hungry and full of venom Metallica used to be; if only they could sound as vital now as they did in the 80s. They could really learn something: gents, have a gander at Onslaught 2013 – that’s how you fucking do it.

Tantara – Facebook page
Master – Official Website
Onslaught – Facebook page