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The Misplaced Metalhead Volume Three

Mosh! December 2011

Promoter: Mosh Winchester

Date: Saturday 3rd December 2011

Venue: The Railway, Winchester

Bands: Dendera, Codex Alimentarius, Ruins of Earth, Terrathorn

Unfortunately, due to other commitments, I managed to miss the epic metal night Mosh back in November and with a day of work, not a lot of sleep and Defenders of the Faith no more than two days previous I was definitely in danger of missing this one too. However, I took it upon myself to man the fuck up and get out there for another night of heaviness and, frankly, I’m glad I did.

A long way away from the huge proscenium arch and vast audience space of the Guildhall two nights before, it was fun returning to the dark and dingy back room of The Railway pub. The sprawling homeland of underground and undiscovered music, this specific venue holds some particularly fond memories for me and being back here after a two month abscence I was looking forward to some hardcore moshing in the tiny space.

Taking the stage first were Portsmouth band Dendera and they approached their set with an aggressive and powerful vigour which belied their position as opening support. You never expect to like the opener that much and, in my experience, I’m often pleasantly surprised by what I find. In this case such a sentiment would be an understatement. These guys fucking rocked. Vocalist Ashley Edison owned the stage with his powerful headbanging and awe-inspiring prescence, compounded by his voice simultaneously conjuring memories of the best of Bruce Dickinson and Tom Araya. The rest of the band made their mark too, with impressive fretwork by guitarist Steve Bain and bassist Gary Jones, but I couldn’t help but feel that they were more like background scenery to the power of their frontman, not least helped by their choice to wear almost entirely black onstage. Yes that is pretty metal, but without a bit of variety it’s just dull to look at. If you’re gonna be live, be live! At least add a fucking bullet belt or a band t-shirt guys, please. Looks aside musically these guys were as fucking tight as anything and the ferocious riffage gave the impression of a young, contemporary, rough around the edges Maiden. Admittedly there is scope to say these guys were sounding a little too like a Maiden tribute but, let’s face it, Maiden fucking rule. If no bands ever tried to sound like them then the metal industry would be dead on its arse. Fact.

Dendera have some serious talent going for them and their interaction with the audience was exactly the sort of thing that makes these bands worth seeing. If anything the small crowd watching the guys did let them down a bit as opposed to the other way round and I would love to see them stretch their metal muscles again to a larger crowd, really getting the reaction hard fucking rockers like these deserve.

Completely poles apart from the NWOBMH influenced rock out of Dendera came the second support; a Gothenburg styled six-piece in the form of the oddly named Codex Alimentarius (in the words of vocalist Stephen Bending ‘a fucking mouthful’). Now, getting this out of the way first – Bending personally earns a trophy for the night for looking the part of ‘Metal as Fuck’. Black boots, trousers, gloves, shirt, waistcoat and tie, bald head , epic facial hair and facial piercings – this guy lived, breathed and bled metal. The band themselves, true to the image of their frontman were equally metal as fuck and unleashed an assault on the sense leaving me in the mind of Slipknot’s Wall of Sound style of playing. This shit was brutal, uncompromising and without pretention. Guitarists Elliot Alderman-Broom, Stan Kemble and Tim Wright each brought their own piece of excellence to the formula with the polyphonic wash of guitar effects that the trio brought accompanied by the crushing rhythm of bassist Andrew Dicker and drummer Frank Dennis.

As raw, brutal, incredible and fucking metal as this band were though my mind kept occupying itself with one thought. Why three guitarists? Yes there are plenty of great bands out there sporting a three pronged guitar assault (the aforementioned Maiden included) but I couldn’t help but think that I’d seen the exact same levels of hardcore metal from a band sporting two. Maybe I’m being unfair, maybe the bass of a small venue sound system just drowned out the guitarist providing a rhythm line, I just could not get this thought out of my head, that with 3 guitars they could up that game just a little more. These guys were fucking awesome, don’t get me wrong, I just think by having that third guitarist they really need to prove themselves with a sound that can stand out. They’ve got the tools, let’s just see if the talent is there to match.

Now we come to a pretty difficult part of the review. Lead support act Ruins of Earth are fucking hard to review; not because their music is transcendental or anything, but because their lead singer Brian Turner was genuinely absent for the whole gig. This left us with the sight of a two guitar, bass and drum thrash band belting out the riffs and solos usually underscoring a well thought out and emotionally charged bellow of a furious frontman. The four remaining members did not disappoint at all though.

You don’t expect a band with this style of sound to come out with instrumentals that work, something in the formula just seems all wrong, but they genuinely did. These guys worked. These guys rocked. Each of the four remaining members were ferocious in their performance and made a mosh so fucking epic and easy that it was like I was watching one of the great established bands. Instrumentals are tricky at the best of times but this visceral assault was so untempered and unhindered by the emotional direction and focus of a lyric sheet that it allowed for me and the other rockers to put our own meaning there, our own emotion, and really feel the music on a whole different level. Hmm, whaddya know, turns out these guys weren’t difficult to review.

So now we come to headliners Terrathorn. As uncompromising and brutal as the supports had been Terrathorn proved to everybody why they were headlining by upping the ante just that little bit more. Vocalist James Hayball engrossed himself with his moshing crowd as seemlessly as a consumate professional, moving in and about them to puncture their music through to everybody and making sure not one was left behind. I know in a previous review I have derided the ‘singer offstage’ approach but this time it just seemed to work, maybe because it was more about the fans, about inclusion, about fun. Possibly the thing I will take most from Terrathorn’s set was their sense of fun in what they were doing, never once taking themselves too seriously (An approach, I must say, was one shared by each of the great bands tonight). Let’s face it, Metal can be pretty goofy, pretty silly sometimes and these guys knew that. They enjoyed themselves and, as a result, so did the fans.

That said they were not a fun-metal band in the vein of Tenacious D or Steel Panther, the thrash provided by the band made me reviewing them a bit tricky as I spent most of their gig windmilling and not watching the stage at all. They asked us to mosh, we moshed, on and on and on. Admittedly their penultimate song did go on a bit, meaning I didn’t have much left in the tank for their closer but once I heard the opening strains I knew I could summon the last gasp up. Finishing the gig with an ‘encore without leaving the stage’, Terrathorn gave the crowd what they wanted; a phenomenal cover of Metallica’s Battery which lead to a pit encompassing more of the floor than I think I’ve ever seen in The Railway.

It was truly the perfect end to an amazing night.

Summing Up:

Dendera: 8/10
Codex Alimentarius: 7/10
Ruins of Earth: ?/10 (Haven’t technically seen them live yet, otherwise 9/10)
Terrathorn: 9/10

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