Promoter: Mosh Winchester
Date: Saturday 1st October 2011
Venue: The Railway, Winchester
Bands: Romeo Must Die, Primitai, Grey Ghost, Bloodworks
Before I start this first volume I’d just like to go through what I mean to achieve by adding gig reviews to my blog. Here in Winchester, with such a small rock and metal scene, the gigs we get at local venue The Railway (and even in more established venues in Southampton such as Talking Heads and Joiners) are relatively unknown bands and so this could be an opportunity to give them that little bit more publicity that they might need, also I’ve recently started collecting Metal Hammer magazine and find the whole concept of music journalism to be pretty fucking awesome. As for the title, well, I’m in fucking Winchester. what do you expect?
Here we go
Opening act Bloodworks are a pleasant surprise to say the least. In these small town gigs you never usually expect too much out of the opener, in my past experience they are usually the passable act which is there to get the audience heated enough to bang their heads a little but not too much that they mosh themselves out too early. Bloodworks are in danger of making the latter far too easy for the fans with their thrash metal powerhouse. Pitched perfectly to get people riled up as much as possible, the boys wasted no time in combining crushing riffage with intricate solos (including tapping from bassist Truk, always nice to see something a little different) without having too much of one or the other; a welcome change in a music scene which nowadays seems to be embracing an age of shred and abandonning traditional solos. I should point out that, when I say boys, I really mean it. Even at 21 years of age I found myself watching this band and thinking ‘fuck, it’ll be the third album before the bassist gets some stubble!’. To see a band so young not falling into the trap that so many others do and fielding some good old school fucking thrash is a godsend and these guys really do know what thrash is.
Criticism I can level at the band is limited at best. Vocalist Kieran has the perfect voice for the extreme brand of metal the boys are aiming for but I can’t help but think that applying the same variation in vocal style that they have done to their riffage could be the key to going from a good band to a great band. On a more personal note I couldn’t stop looking at the ponytail sported by drummer Liam, a hairstyle I maintain should be reserved in a metalhead’s life for job interviews and attempting to eat soup – let it flow dude, feel the metal that you get from being a long haired moshfreak and accept it.
All in all these guys are an aggressive, talented and surprising band who are young enough to evolve their sound to wherever the music takes them. Potential is the key word here and Bloodworks have it in spades.
The second support spot is filled by the reborn Phoenix of Grey Ghost. The band are Phoenix-like inasmuch as this isn’t any of their first times on the scene, each coming from other bands and having met from nights just like these, supporting one another. To say the band gets off to a rocky start would be an understatement. With the bar calling The Railway’s back room started to thin out following Bloodworks’ exit and so there was a lot of empty space to fill. Unfortunately filling was the first thing on vocalist Choff’s mind for the wrong reasons and he moved to and fro constantly in the large empty space between band an audience. The problem with this was that, in doing so, Chuff effectively pushed potential fans back and gave the impression of a dog leashed by the mic lead – and as we all know, you keep your distance from dogs on leads. Alongside Chuff’s extension of stage space the noise coming from the speakers was so relentless that it was difficult to work out one note or chord from another and the whole first song felt just like white noise, punctuated only occassionally by inventive guitar playing from guitarists Duncan and Nik.
Fortunately as people got their drinks and started to file back in the venue got more heated and any problems from the first song seemed to disappear, due to the sheer change in quality I’ll assume this was all down to some improvisation from the sounds man. Whilst the relentless shredding seemed to die down the inventive double guitar play did not and this served as an absolute highlight for the guys, punctuated by some wild onstage movement from the two and some very impressive fills from drummer Mooney.
Whilst the band did redeem themselves with later tracks Chuff still acted like half the room belonged to him and bassist Vince seemed to be doing his best impression of Josh Brainard at this year’s Sonisphere, standing at the back being all but invisible. I should point out that these were two flies in an otherwise impressive ointment and I would love to see the band headlining one day with plenty of fans to fill the space.
Here’s where things get really interesting as Lead Support Primitai took to the stage and my fucking god did they get the place flared up. Previous to this gig my only experience of Primitai was their single ‘Sin City’ on a Metal Hammer compilation CD a few months back but they had already established themselves for me as a band to see live at some point. In simplest terms these guys did not dissappoint. Establishing instant rapport and firing their way through absolutely incredible tracks, with barely a moment to take a breath, each song was just as good as the last with particular highlights in the form of ‘The Line of Fire’, ‘War Cries’ and, of course ‘Sin City’. Primitai may just be the most energetic band I have seen live and, in the words of Romeo Must Die vocalist Adam Frakes-Sime, they ‘keep the spirit of ’83 alive’. Power Metal has some impressive rising stars in the form of these five guys and if you ever get the chance see them live because next time they come around you’re gonna want the standing tickets at Wembley.
Now we come on to the night’s headliners Romeo Must Die. The guys were up against a mammoth task following Primitai and they approach it with all the fire, drive and Heavy motherfucking Metal you would expect. Not helping the situation were four tanked up, and pretty sizeable, dickheads who approached moshing as if they were in the middle of a WWE Royal Rumble, wrestling each other to the ground and splitting one of their faces open on the merch table. Of course because the guy in question was fucked off his now bleeding face he didn’t notice and carried on through the next 2 songs scaring off anybody else wanting to have a mosh without getting broken. Vocalist Adam Frakes-Sime was admirable in his attempt to deal with the situation, first attempting diplomacy, drawing more people in around them before eventually settling for calling the guys the cunts that they were.
Once this little issue was out of the way the rest of the band’s set was an unbridled thrillride of pure fucking thrash which pleased everybody involved, particularly the title track from EP ‘Defined By Enemies’ (which had arrived in my postbox only the day before, allowing me to really fucking rock out). Unfortunately with the first two songs dominated by distractions and the half hour set nature of the night just as soon as they got into the swing of things it was the closing song of the night but this was a duty the band fulfilled in truly epic fashion. To top it all off and punctuate the end to a great night Romeo Must Die even graced us with a homage to Slipknot’s famed crazy test and when the ‘jump the fuck up’ command came every single one of us truly did and the moshpit was complete.
Having seen Romeo Must Die before I can’t help but think that a half hour set is not enough to contain the savage beast of mythos that they are becoming. Last Spring (i.e. 2010), when they supported Sylosis, RMD treated me to my first Wall of Death…then my second. I fucking loved every second of their set and it was the perfect length to get the shit kicked out of me in the name of being part of the pit and that in no small part was due to the crowd being pitched just as perfectly as the band.
So my closing statement for this review is pretty simple, there is a difference between an incredible band and an incredible gig. The difference is you. The fans, the venues, the promoters. If each piece comes together perfectly then the night will be one fans will remember for years to come. Metal is about being part of something greater than yourself and if you leave a gig feeling that you are part of this global behemoth then it has truly been a success.
Was Mosh Winchester this kind of success? I’ll be honest and say it’s not the best gig I’ve been to but it is the first of many and that’s the important thing. The bands were chosen well, they played incredibly, the fans were out in force and for the first time as long as I’ve been here Winchester has regular Metal representation and so, while I may not feel the global metal community at my back just yet, I’m sure I will in months to come.
Grey Ghost: 6/10
Romeo Must Die: 9/10