Vulgate EP by Vulgate
Active since 2005 and with many line up shifts, EP releases, genre flips and even a name change under their belt, East Sussex progressive death metallers Vulgate have certainly had a lot to contend with over the past couple of years since their official reformation in 2012. Flash forward to 2014 and you find the band in the backroom of The Railway playing to the Winchester metal mobs, all set to record their full length debut and with their latest, most relevant EP ripe for the picking. Having heard their sound, this reviewer could help but take a pick.
Opening with clear, yet foreboding simplicity, instrumental Transparence is nowhere near the sort of sound you’d expect from a band professing themselves as ‘progressive death’. Nevertheless, the multi layered guitar lines mesh and wash across you like a calming sea, lulling you into a tempting sense of security as the 1 minute track rises in preparation for follow up The Sickening Fanatical Mind.
The second salvo surges with a purposeful shred from Ben Taylor and Owen Weir on guitars underneath the ferocious, if a little underproduced, roars of vocalist/bassist William Brown. Where this band excels however, is their jarring shifts from one time signature to another as the song rises and falls through varying speeds and passages, overseen by intensely realised drumming from Owen Fowler, focusing the relentless energy of the piece into a sumptuous banquet of hidden gems. In between the thrash influenced shreds and deathly barks, the song often breaks into arpeggio heavy, multi layered guitar interplay between the two axemen which yield new delights with each listen. This is a song you can revisit any number of times and find something you’d never noticed each time and shows just how skilled the band are at diversely texturing their sound.
Third track Light In The Sky starts with great promise with a subdued opening riff bringing the bassline forward but almost feels as if it abandons this to quickly for it to really hook any impact. Treading a more straightforward Death Metal path than its more progressive predecessor, the song is sure to get heads truly banging with its Groove tinged stomp at the top and painfully slow, Doom dripping middle section. In the midst of all of this, another return to melodious instrumentalism runs the risk of rehashing Fanatical Mind’s triumph but manages to rely on its simplicity and bassline to differentiate effectively. Throwing in an almost neo-classical solo and another Doomy dirge to end, this isn’t the most mind blowing of Death Metal songs but would be one hell of an effective live arrow in any band’s quiver.
Building on the teases of neo-classical is mid EP instrumental Waves, which shows some serious technical skill from the band, both in composition and delivery. As the quick fingers dance their way across the fretboard over a gradually rising minor chords, the juxtaposition of simplicity and technicality blend into a pretty emotive soundscape which is neither overwrought nor under developed, ending perfectly at the 1:48 mark with beauty and style.
A return to the realms of Death is in order after such an experience and Waters of Judgement just so happens to be the perfect antidote. Rising from shuddering nothingness into marching dread, the noise which follows cuts with razor blade staccato from a biting snare and cymbal crashes to riffs leaving you on the edge of a precipice, dangling ready for the fall into full on thrashy madness. The solos have taken a few steps up this time round and leave your head in an absolute spin with the sheer skill of them but leave you no time to react before the riffs kick back in, pulverising you with help from Fowler’s breakneck drum pace and Brown’s angered roar like a demonic call to arms.
Choosing to add a demo version of Waves to finish does diminish the impact of Waters a tad, and feels slightly superfluous on a 5 track EP, but it’s an interesting showcase of the technical skill without the backing chords to mask the sound. I’m not the biggest fan of extra demos at the best of times so I’d be happy if the 5 tracks just remained as they were. That said, Waves is a triumph, and hearing it again without those chords does make you appreciate how something so simple can make such a difference.
Ultimately this is an EP of dichotomy, the worlds of Death Metal and Progressive crashing against one another and the choice trophies taken by the band from this war of sounds. At times it may not yet be fully realised but, when it is, this EP shows an enormous amount of promise for the debut album. In a musical world filled with bands dogmatically adhering to formula and genre, Vulgate have the skill to carve their own path through the murky night of noise and sound. When summer comes and the album is released, this could be one hell of a path to walk.
Find Vulgate at https://www.facebook.com/Vulgatethrash where you can purchase the EP
Vulgate’s as yet untitled debut album will be out Summer 2014
When I started writing reviews as The Misplaced Metalhead on this blog just over a year ago it was just a little bit of a hobby, something I was interested in trying out for myself after reding a little bit too much Metal Hammer. Nothing more. That said, here we are over a year later with fifteen reviews and a decent few bands mentioned several times linking their fans to my blog. Recognition, whilst tiny, is starting to filter through.
With that in mind I’ve decided to set up a second blog specifically for my gig reviews which can be found at misplacemetalhead.wordpress.com and to revert this blog back to what it originally was, a place to muse on my thoughts through all things great and small (largely small). I’m leaving all fifteen of my original reviews here but they’ve also been exported over to the new blog for the full archive to be together.
Thank you to those of you who have followed my blog over this past year and I hope you will continue to read my reviews and check bands out on the new page as it develops (facebook page probably along the way at some point as well – one step at a time).
See you there
Promoter: Factory Music
Date: Thursday 18th October 2012
Venue: The Railway, Winchester
Bands: Decapitated, Xerath, Bloodshot Dawn, (Ageless Oblivion)
Fucking work getting in the way of gigs again (Or, in other words, hello). On top of a shit day at work and little sleep the night before some form of balls up on the trains meant I had to get a cab home just in order to get some dinner so I was ready for this gig tonight. As such, when I got the venue I was on the tail end of a particularly pissed off mood. Fortunately for me – tonight was all about the glorious Metal of Death – a genre purposefully defined to kick the fucking snot out of moods such as these. Enough about me though, there’s brutality to be getting on with.
You may notice the brackets around openers Ageless Oblivion as you saw in my Volume Fourteen review for the band I didn’t see. Well, fortunately for you, lucky reader, at least this time I managed to catch the tail end of Ageless Oblivion’s set and, let me tell you, I was pretty much kicking myself that I wasn’t there earlier. I entered the crowded, sweaty venue to the sounds of what could only be described as a ‘transcendental passage’. That’s right, this was my opening impression of what was promised to be a Brutal Death metal gig. Although this may have seemed out of place at first, the band carried off the restrained and reflective passage with such conviction that the sizable crowd before me stood transfixed in wonder at what they were hearing. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the band launched into what we’d all come to see, some truly crushing riffs tearing through the calm previously bestowed. Although I couldn’t see much from way at the back, any glimpses I did catch of vocalist Stephen Jones instantly gave me the impression of a powerful frontman, his stillness in delivery completely at odds with the ferocity of his incredible roars. Although the set I managed to see was short at best, what the band did deliver was an eclectic fusion of unrelenting fury and technical brilliance, incorporating elements as disparate as slap bass and blast beats in the same verses – let alone the same songs. A band of contradiction and a phenomenal one at that.
Next up were local favourites Bloodshot Dawn, a band I have only ever seen once (Volume Twelve) when completely and utterly tanked up to the eyeballs. With my late arrival I was nowhere near this level this time round and a pang of apprehension grabbed me: what if I was just pissed last time? What if they’re not that good? As the band set up a little voice at the back of my head was still voicing this so when they started with a blisteringly insane assault I was pretty chuffed. The little voice was replaced with a much louder one, hitting the previous one with a big fucking hammer and screaming “FUCK YOU! THESE GUYS RULE!”.
You’re probably going to want a more in depth review than that right? Okay then. Most Death bands just have the one vocalist but, not to be outdone, these Hampshire badasses combine the best of both worlds with guitarist Josh Mcmorran and drummer Doug Anderson sharing the role. Both use the staple roars and screams of the best of them but each voice comes with its own nuance which allows for a fuller and more brutal sound, different enough to provide variety but not to much as to create undue dissonance. Each member’s respective talent with their insruments also atests to their skills, joining lightning fingered bassist Anthony Riddout to provide the perfect undercurrent of aggressive rhythm, when Mcmorran isn’t soloing his fucking balls off that is. The technical skill on display here was unquestionable, particularly on the part of lead guitarist Benjamin Ellis, who I’m pretty sure spent the entirety of the song ‘Vision’ running his eight string axe through one hell of what seemed a constant solo. The guys even managed to start the first pit of the night, an admittedly quite lacklustre wall of death on our part but that was our fault, let’s face it, we knew what to save ourselves for.
With the anticipation in the room reaching suitable unbearable levels there was only one band left before the Polish behemoths of our headliners; that band was Xerath. I’d heard Xerath a couple of times on youtube prior to this gig (researching little cunt that I am) and was pretty impressed by their sound. This feeling carried on through the first couple of songs through their set, a no holds barred ear bashing which almost made headbanging cease to be an action and instead become an instinct. Utilising only one guitar instead of the traditional two, the band created a raw and organic sound to their music with occassional flourishes such as bassist Christopher Clark providing backing vocals and actually creating a harmony with lead singer Richard Thomson, a near impossibility in this genre.
That said, a few songs in these flourishes seemed to fade away and the music, at times, stagnated dangerously. Yes it was still great to headbang to, but certain songs I felt my midn drifting away with little else to grab my attention. I realised some of the ambient qualities afforded to the band in youtube form were produced synthetically to create a more complete feel and recreating some of these can be difficult live, especially in smaller venues like The Railway. These guys were an incredibly savage band to mosh to, I just couldn’t help but feel that playing straight after the technical wizardry of Bloodshot Dawn did them no favours.
And now the event you’ve all been waiting for. The Railway was sold out in the lead up to this event and you could tell just by how many people had to jump on steps just to get a good look at the stage. This was the most packed out I’ve ever seen my favourite tiny little venue and never had I been further from the stage. After horrendously off-pissing technical problems there was an extended wait which only served to fuel the fires of the expectant horde and, sure enough, before long, the Polish kings of Brutal Death Metal took the stage and the crowd in an absolute storm of insanity. It had begun. Decapitated was here.
As I had done with Xerath, I’d done my research on these Polish nutters through youtube and found myself, shall we say, less than impressed with the prospects. I’ve never been a huge Brutal Death guy and my opinion wasn’t swayed straight away. What I failed to take into account, however, is how the music would sound live. Sure enough, every tinny blast beat from my laptop speaker was replaced by a horrifying cacaphony of oblivion launched by Krimh, every repetitve riff become a thundering gallop from the bass of Heinrich and all the precise wails courtesy of the recording process became haunting melodies of destruction from the guitars of founding member Vogg. On top of all this was thrown the bug eyed madman with a mic in his hand, the terrifyingly powerful Rafal Piotrowski, with eyes blazing and dreadlocks flailing like the arms of a broken strait jacket orchestrating this order of devestation at his feet. Sure enough, devestation was to follow. EVERY song had it’s own pit – NO EXCEPTIONS. I went from being thrown like a rag doll to pushing my weight against some of the most intense motherfuckers I’ve ever seen (particular credit goes to a short, brunette woman who gets the Metal As Fuck Award for pretty much starting EVERY SINGLE FUCKING PIT). Could I tell you individually how each and every song was? Fuck no! I can’t do that with bands I’m not in a pit with. The fact of the matter is though I discovered what I had been missing when I listened to youtube with an ill-conceived ‘meh’. Brutal Death Metal is more than just a genre, it’s an experience. You have not truly heard a song, or a band, until you have heard it live and, in Metal, that is more true than any other genre. Decpaitated provided me with the most intense night I’ve had at the Railway since Sylosis/Romeo Must Die in 2009 and, frankly, it’s going to be a long time before anybody comes even close to topping them.
When it happens – I’ll be fucking ready
Ageless Oblivion: 7/10
Bloodshot Dawn: 8/10
Aeon Promotions Presents…
Promoter: The Railway + Aeon Promotions
Date: Wednesday 10th October 2012
Venue: The Railway, Winchester
Bands: The Red and The Black, Toledo Steel, Fall of Idols, Laid Wasted, (Heaven Shall Fall)
I’d like to start this review with an apology, an apology to the guys of opening support Heaven Shall Fall as they will unfortunately not be appearing in this post. Yet again that frustratingly constant concern of ‘the rest of my life’ has interferred with my ability to support my local metal scene. Due to the twin commitments of needing to work to earn so I can eat and needing to eat so I can live I was quite late to this gig and managed to miss their set in its entirety. Life sucks like that sometimes, so if you’re looking here specifically for info about Heaven Shall Fall stop reading now. Apologies, but I can say if they were anywhere near as good as the rest of the night then the people who did see them were damn lucky.
Starting off (for me) the night were refreshingly grimey local boys Laid Wasted. In a lot of instances grimey is an insult, either insulting appearance or drawing comparisons to the ‘urban grime’ music scene which most metalheads would rather have cat AIDS than listen to. This is not one of those times. The grime in question this time round comes in stark contrast to a lot of the hyper polished bands I’ve seen recently, notable Firewind in the last review. After seeing so many bands of this style, Laid Wasted’s sound was rough around the edges and untempered by pretention or glamour. Like watching four guys rock out in a garage, the sound was thick with potential and the atmosphere was one of experimentation and fun. Despite delivering a set of riffs and licks any band would be proud of it was more in the construction where this band found their strength, judderingly chaotically across a range of tempos and keys. I’m not going to lie, it was tough working out how the fuck to mosh to this but, let’s face it, you could say the same about Meshuggah and they’re doing pretty well for themselves.
So many shifts in a song demand a tight rhythm line and, even without the help of a bassist, drummer Clive Lusmore was more than capable of taming the storm. With these solid foundations guitarists Joe Long and Joe Tanner were absolute whirlwinds of power on their axes whilst the vocal delivery of Sean Walsh was in equal parts captivating and jolting; utilising the tried and tested screams of the death metal ouevre whilst throwing in both soft and powerful clean sections like a ruffled SOAD. Truly epic on all counts, despite being their first performance in over a year Laid Wasted have exploded back onto the scene with a mighty return and the only way is up.
Topping something like that would always be hard so Fall of Idols had a huge challenge at their door straight from the start. From that starting point I wasn’t exactly sure they would be able to pull this off. Delivering a few straightforward hardcore tunes to fire up the gig; through their first three or four songs Fall of Idols felt a little formulaic in their approach with a relentless screamed verse playing straight into a more powerful melodic chorus…and repeat.
Fortunately, as the room began to fill up, extra little flares began appearing in the set. The songs got heavier, the solos more intricate and, particularly, the backing vocals provided by guitarist Daniel Cobley provided a broader range to the show and complimented David James’ voice perfectly. With each progressive song the band started to remind me more and more of the recently split up Romeo Must Die, who graced the Railway’s stage with similiarly sweeping yet aggressive stylings in my Volume One review, seemingly filling that powerhouse void left by Adam Frakes-Sime and co. As the set began to close the intensity rose higher and higher with David and guitarist Ant Jones coming offstage to join the crowd headbanging like fuck at the front. Despite a shaky start these guys certainly proved their metal credentials.
With a powerfully dirty and grim death/thrash assault to start the evening it seemed a little pick me up would be in order – a pick me up welcomely bestowed by NWOBHM fuelled Southampton rockers Toledo Steel. The main thing I took from their ferociously infectious set was that, in between the epic and untempered wall of headbangers lining the stage, I honestly could not wipe the smile from my face. Taking the most brilliantly catchy elements of the 80s metal scene alongside the bravado of stadium rockers, each and every song on the band’s setlist was an out-and-out hit. Even the look of the band, from singer Rich Rutter’s badass red leather jacket to the ferocity with which Matt Dobson pounded his drumkit, screamed the very best of the decade where metal could do no wrong. These guys weren’t re-inventing the brand by any stretch of the imagination, but their single guitar and bass approach created a stripped down sound where nothing was lost under a potentially suffocating rhythm line (a trap I’ve seen bands fall into before). Were Toledo Steel anything ground breaking? No. Were they something really fucking special? Fucking yes.
So first act gritty, second act surprising, third act epic. It was shaping up into one hell of an evening and with local rockers donning Luchadore style masks ready for headliners The Red and The Black, the anticipation was reaching high. Sure enough it was only moments before the South London hardcore headliners stormed the stage and began their relentless riffage to the meagre crowd. Song 1 went off without a hitch, along with song 2…song 3…and…okay, I’ll admit I was starting to glaze over a bit by this point.
It’s not that TRATB were a bad band by any means. The relentless power they played with was pretty fucking intense and vocalist Dan Knox’s delivery came with all the strength and grit upon which come of the best punk is built. My problem was that, beyond this, there was little, if anything, extra to latch on to. The UK hardcore scene is in complete overdrive at the moment. With the likes of Feed The Rhino electrifying audiences with their live sets and Between The Buried and Me releasing mind bending concept albums genericness is amongst the most cardinal of sins. The last two or three songs from TRATB were a saving grace with the likes of the infectious ‘Spit You Out’ redeeming some of the earlier blandness but it may have been too little too late for me.
So that was my night back at The Railway in the wake of Mosh!. Sure it didn’t end brilliantly but I did discover three awesome bands in the process and, with plenty more gigs lined up at The Railway soon, I’m sure to discover many many more.
Laid Wasted: 8/10
Fall of Idols: 7/10
Toledo Steel: 8/10
The Red and The Black: 4/10
Few Against Many UK Tour
Promoter: Black Star ESP & Factory Music
Date: Friday 21st September 2012
Venue: The Talking Heads, Southampton
Bands: Firewind, Leaves’ Eyes, Dendera.
So it’s been quite some time since my last review, even longer since one that didn’t start with ‘this month at Mosh!’, so when the 21st rolled round I was getting really geared up to the first gig I’d been to in exactly 2 months. Knowing full well that the next day at work would not be even close to pretty, I took the train down to Southampton, having listened to Few Against Many three times in the previous week, and in about an hour I was there at The Talking Heads. I was ready for Firewind, one of the most intensely powerful metal bands to come out of Greece in some time. Once the doors opened we filtered in and, with pints in hand, prepared for the rollecoaster face melter of a gig we were about to experience.
Those of you who regularly read my blog will know that I’m a big fan of a powerful little metal group from the south known as Dendera so when I found out they were the opening act (literally at the venue), you can guess how excited I was. It wasn’t long before I was right at the front of the stage with Ashley Edison and crew taking their places to rock the fuck out. Accompanied by the size of crowd their music deserves, Dendera upped the ante this time and gave possibly the tightest set I have seen from them thusfar. As ever, vocalist Edison provided the most entertainment value as the manic headbanger swinging from one side of the stage to another through the epic instrumental journeys, albeit sometimes restricted by the sound system and extra kit of the headliners. Alongside this madman of metal, this time round guitarists Steve Main and Tony Fuller and bassist Bradley Edison got some of their own showboating out there; guitars flying wildly and solos embellished with some real showman flare.
While most of the set stayed true to the gritty-yet-Maidenesque formula, new number ‘Till We Fall’ showcased a phenomneal amount of range in the first minute alone; skipping from drumming which would feel right at home in death metal, through a funky bass fill into a groove riff Pantera wouldn’t sniff at back to the home turf of simply fucking great metal.
Criticism levelled at this performance is limited at best, while Edison’s falsettos and screams are always a highlight, his lower range growls were often swallowed up by the mix and became lost, dampening the impact of some great lyrical content. Still, with a set that good I think such a minor fly in the ointment can be forgiven; fuck it, I’d be willing to ignore it based on the strength of set closer ‘Bridges Will Burn’ alone, surely the band’s staple anthem at this point.
As you can probably tell by now, the opener did their job flawlessly, fanning the fires of metal ready for the rest of the night and pumping the crowd to fever pitch for whatever came next. I’d never heard Firewind’s touring partner Leaves’ Eyes before but was ready for anything after Dendera. Well…I thought I was ready. I have mixed emotions about Leaves’ Eyes if I’m honest, the riffs were definitely there and some of the songs were truly epic. They even had a mandolin onstage…a fucking mandolin…that’s pretty awesome when used in the right way.
However, once this thrashy fused folk metal from Norway got into the swing of things there were a couple of things which soured me straight away. First off, it was about two songs in when I noticed the repetitive nature of some of the riffs going on. Relentless it was, providing a truly epic underscore to the haunting vocals of Liv Kristine, but most of the twiddly flares and embellishments, I noticed, were provided by a backing track of pipes, strings etc. which totally diminished the liveness of the performance, making the rest of the band feel more like Kristine’s touring band than an actual group. Things were saved slightly when second vocalist Alexander Krull, with hair flowing majestically all the way down to his waist, entered the fray and threw his death tinged roars into the mix to spice the set with some more variety, especially for songs like ‘My Destiny’. Audience interaction can play perfectly into the hands of most performances with clap and shout alongs really firing up the engine of the metal machine but the frequency with which Kristine and Krull tried this strayed from effective, through irritating and landed squarely in fucking annoying. Once every couple of songs if effective, three times per song is annoying, I hope I’m not alone in thinking this. I’m sorry to say even the mandolin was underused, duetting with a guitar to play the exact same notes at one point and effectively masking its sound and making its usage redundant (that said, in between songs it was used to play the Whole Lotta Rosie riff later so points for that).
Leaves’ Eyes, despite the flaws as I saw them, were not entirely a disappointment. As I said before, their riffage was strong enough for a great headbang, and the way JB Van Der Wal used his five string bass as a lead instrument in the closing numbers was truly impressive. The rousing yet chilling norse folk melody Kråkevisa was where they really shone (not least because its where the mandolin was actually useful) and I couldn’t help but feel the less folksey numbers came off sounding a little fake by comparison. Maybe that’s just me. Maybe without the whole crowd clapping in my ears every six seconds I’d like them more. If that’s your sort of thing go see them and decide for yourself.
So with a mixed bag of an evening so far I was still undiminished because I was about to be mere inches away from one of the metal industy’s rising stars: Ozzy guitarist Gus G and his epicly epic (there’s seriously no other way to describe it) Greek cohorts Firewind: The reason most of us were here.
Straight from the off Firewind were in raging form, delivering a hammering rendition of Few Against Many’s opener ‘Wall of Sound’. Heads banged, rock horns flew, air guitars roared (sort of) and the whole crowd came together in mutual celebration of this phenomenal start. From this moment on the momentum didn’t dip once and the band careened like a runaway train through hit after hit, not one note or beat ever out like a polished symphony of pure power. As can be expected, with his international acclaim as Ozzy’s axesmith, a lot of the limelight went to Gus G. When somebody reaches this level of recognition you’ll always fear the impending shadow of overrated-ness but, watching his fingers fly effortlessly across the fretboard from less than 2 feet away, I can honestly say any such accusations would be completely unfounded.
Whilst clearly a focal point, Gus was not the only highlight of this show as the set was peppered with solos in between songs from guitarist/keyboardist Bob Katsionis and vocalist Apollo Papathanasio. Alongside the ferocious rhythm guitar during songs, Katsionis levelled into a blistering solo which made that keyboard his bitch; his fingers an utter blur over the ebony and ivory keys of electronic mayhem. There was even a moment when he managed to ‘dual wield’ guitar tapping and key trilling and made it look completely effortless – definitely winning the ‘Metal As Fuck’ award for the evening.
Where Ashley Edison and Liv Kristine had both demonstrated their frontman/woman skills earlier in the evening; Papathanasio’s performance was an utter masterclass in holding the audience. The sheer joy and passion which he brought to his craft encapsulated all of us and his vocal performance was just as good as on the album, a rare feat from music of this style. His absolute highlight though came about three quarters into the set when, in the spirit of His Greatness Freddy Mercury, Papathanasio launched into a full on acapella vocal duel with the audience. Day O it wasn’t, to do so would be a little cheesy and leave a sour taste in the mouth, but Papathanasio brought his own unique flare and Greek spirit to the practice and it truly paid off.
Where the band went from strength to strength throughout the whole set I have to admit the only weak link was the idiot writing this review right now. Having only heard Few Against Many, songs from previous albums were largely lost on me (with the exception of World on Fire, thanks Metal Hammer) and, with the fact that I knew I had a train to catch/work in the morning, it’s times like this when you realise how much the real world sucks and so having bands like Firewind around is exactly what we need. The exhillarating thrill, the epic power, the true metal spirit with which they flew through every one of their incredible songs lifted me and everybody else out of our everyday lives. Even if it was only for one evening, we gave ourselves to music – it’s a joy I’ve never managed to surpass in life and, for a night like tonight, I would gladly travel to Southampton, get home late and get 4 hours of sleep before work anytime.
That’s what metal is all about
Leaves’ Eyes: 5/10
Mosh! All Dayer
Promoter: Mosh! Winchester
Date: Saturday 21st July 2012
Venue: The Railway, Winchester
Bands (that I saw): Terrathorn, Bloodshot Dawn, Bloodworks, Furyborn, Biolith, Duke of Agares.
In the world of metal, all day events can be a double edged sword. On the one hand you’ve got a great opportunity to bring a whole horde of bands together to perform and dedicate an entire day to kicking arse and moshing out. One the other, the unfortunate side effect of this bastard condition called ‘reality’ is that your job can frequently get in the way, something I experienced first hand at the Mosh! All Dayer which started at 2pm while I was still at work until 5.30. Come 6 o’clock I had arrived and quickly made my way into the venue to catch as much of a glimpse as I possibly could.
Since I started writing reviews and coming to gigs here at The Railway I have definitely developed a couple of favourites who I will make a special effort to see and, as I ran into the Railway’s back room, I was happy to see I hadn’t missed one of my top bands: Dukes of Agares. Even though I only managed to catch the closing fifteen minutes of the set The Dukes still sounded as if they were in great fucking form. The gritty power with which they hammer through their songs is something which makes them great and this was in no short supply in the closing two songs of the gig; particularly ‘Shadow Walker’, which was ony let down by the meagre mid afternoon crowd. Despite the song’s hypnotising opening drums and the crushing riff accompanied by the great vocal work of Kinch and Yabsley the song failed to take off and left the chant-along middle section sounding a little silly. Unfortunately it seemed like most of the crowd were either outside or saving themselves for the next 4 hours with only myself and a few others as exceptions. Nevertheless, this was a solid performance by The Dukes and although the crowd energy was low during the set; the resultant appreciation proved that it did not fall on deaf ears.
Next up to the Great Metal Gauntlet were the Death Metal as Fuck Biolith, who this time were in possession of a permanent bassist and left behind their comedy gold stage invaders (as seen in the Volume Seven review). Without these distractions in place it was just us and the music and it seemed like Biolith had brought their fans out in force for this show, with the whole front of the stage lined with headbangers thrashing away to the glory of this Death tinged sound of nightmares. There was a furious aggression to Biolith’s set which totally captured the crowds, not even letting up when vocalist Luke’s mic cut out halfway through the set. Luke himself was great to watch onstage, striding from side to side fully assured of the control his band held over the room. However, whilst assured physically, the vocals were occasionally swallowed up by the brutal bass and drum lines which had a tendancy to overpower the other instruments. We didn’t care though, these levels of sonic fucking fury were exactly what we came here for and Biolith certainly delivered.
At this point I’d had enough to drink and moshed enough that I decided I needed some air (and another pint) so I’d like to apologise to Furyborn for missing the opening couple of minutes of their set, as I spent the time outside discussing French gore movies with some friends. I’m getting side tracked. Fuck. On with the review! After a set as sonically and physically punishing as Biolith’s, the surprisingly catchy Metal offered by Furyborn punctured the room with a whole new energy. Combining the stalwart shreds and screams of true Death Metallers the set even flared with almost Power Metal-esque offerings of clean vocals from Jut Tabor and ferociously technical fretwork from the bald behemoth figure of Ollie Roberts. This varied approach hit the perfect balance with neither the harsh nor the clean over reaching its opposite while the rhythm section of Shred (guitars/vocals), Matt Wilson (bass/vocals) and Jamie Dowding (drums) were perfectly comfortable at whichever pace they chose to set, making even the fastest shreds and blasts look simple. By the end of the set I was not only totally fucked on booze but totally pumped for whatever came next.
What sort of Mosh! All Dayer would it have been were it not for these next guys? The shining hope of Metal in Hampshire (If anybody disagrees, I strongly suggest you go fuck yourself). That’s right, Bloodworks are back. Having now appeared in no less than a third of my reviews you’re probably well aware of my opinion of Bloodworks by now. The boys go from strength to strength with each set they play and as the evening rolled into night time they proved yet again that they have what it takes. Although the sound is, at times, a little homogenous this just amplifies the fury with which these guys play as each and every song is just as unrelenting as the last one – taking the audience by the scruff of the neck and screming into their eyes until their skull explodes from sheer awesomeness. ‘Dead and Buried’ is always a highlight to watch as it really showcases the creative flair and intricate tap work by Kieran, Truk and particularly Lewis, who not only possesses the most beautiful guitar ever conceived but sure as hell knows how to use it, truly earning the right to bear the name ‘Dime’ on this instrument of doom. Fuck these guys are good. Just. Fuck.
So with the sunlight dwindling to nothingness we only had two more bands to see and I was, for lack of a better phrase, totally and utterly fucked. Of course, as the Gospel according to Dimebag will attest, this is the ideal state to rock the fuck out to some of the best shit out there so, with that said. I was in for a pounding as Bloodshot Dawn thundered into their opener. From start to finish while these guys were on we barely had a second to catch our breath as the whole set went from strength to strength. Wailing guitars, crushing bass, vocal tenacity and unbridled drums. With a relentless vigour that few bands are capable of, the Death Metal fourpiece opened up Pandora’s Box to all the horrors inside, ensnaring the captive audience like chains around a demon horde. Pits sprung up, hair and limbs flailed wildly and the floor was aflame with the sheer unadulterated joy of Metal. We could see the band were having fun as well, which made the show even better as sometimes a set can live or die on how its performed. Suffice to say, Bloodshot Dawn don’t just play their music, the live it and have a fucking great time in doing so.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a crowd as pumped up as we were following the stellar set by Bloodshot Dawn but it was clear that Terrathorn would have a tremendous challenge on their hands just to keep up that level of fucking momentum. Fortunately, as Terrathorn have proved before, momentum is what they’re all about. Right from the start the self styled ‘Party Thrash’ five piece rushed the crowd with an extra surge of adrenaline, pumping their modern twist of classic thrash through our veins and reigniting the fire let by the many bands of the all dayer. It’s the sheer energy of a Terrathorn show which makes them an amazing band to watch and a lot of this credit has to go to the phenomenal stage work of James Hayball (vocals) who not only makes the stage his bitch but makes it is his business to claim the pit as well; striding out to greet us and get us fucking rocking. From about two songs in each number came with its own pit the likes of which you only see when people have been drinking for 8 hours. Even though I managed to get quite painfully launched into the stage, creating a sizeable bruise on my arm and a potential concussion from the monitor, I couldn’t help but think this was fucking amazing. Of course a gig this great, both for Terrathorn as a band and Mosh! in general, demands a closer worthy of its scope and the Southampton boys didn’t disappoint with their own cover of Metallica’s Battery. That’s right, you heard, in a 140 capacity venue with people who had been drinking since 2pm we were treated to fucking Battery. I don’t think I saw a single person outside of the pit as this number came to a close and rightly so – it’s a classic for a reason and the band who performed it were nothing short of flawless.
So that was the Mosh! All Dayer, or at least most of it. I can only send my apologies to the many bands I didn’t get to and ask that they blame society’s pathetic insistence that a guy needs money just to eat, get pissed or buy PS3 games (First World Problems). I can only hope that this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing from Mosh! for a while but frankly, if they want to put their feet up and enjoy some time off after a stellar gig like that I wouldn’t fucking blame them. This Metalhead will certainly be waiting.
Dukes of Agares: 7/10
Bloodshot Dawn: 9/10
Recently a friend of mine put up a post on facebook asking for experiences, thoughts, or opinions relating to the currently ‘hot topic’ of gay marriage. Wanting to create a play, in the tradition of forum theatre, around the subject she was after some real life testimonies or viewpoints to give a feeling of reality to the piece. Now I’ve had no experience of gay relationships myself, and do not have any very good friends in civil partnerships (although I do know quite a few in gay relationships) so I wasn’t too sure if I could contribute something to this – even though it is a subject which I feel very strongly about. Despite this it reminded me of something I’d read a couple of weeks previously which got my blood boiling and one which, frankly, I thought needed relaying as it’s exactly the sort of thing that could be useful. She asked for my input – here’s what I gave her:
There are some people in the world, no matter who you are you will come across them, who you like, respect and, in some cases, idolise until they say just one thing that turns your stomach so much that you no longer want to be associated with them. You may or may not have heard of Dave Mustaine, lead singer and lead guitarist of Heavy Metal band Megadeth and former guitarist of Metallica – in essence a key proponent of two of the biggest metal bands in history – a genre which is supposed to be all about love and community for the outsiders and misunderstood who don’t ‘fit in’ with others. If you’re a bit different, feel bullied or outcast or don’t like the way the world works sometimes you look up to people like Dave. Well, the problem is he’s the sort of person I’m talking about.
When interviewed in 2012 Dave was asked whether he supports gay marriage and his answer was, and I quote:
“Well since I’m not gay the answer to that would have to be no”
Dead. To. Me.
What the fuck does something like that even mean? Why is it so absurd to people like him that heterosexuals like me support gay marriage? You don’t have to be gay to be in favour of simple civil rights for all. When asked further if he would support gay marriage legislation he responded:
“I’m Christian. The answer to that would be no.”
I’m going to make something very clear right now, Christianity is not wholly to blame for the backlash against gay marriage, a lot of Christians cite the positive messages from the Bible in their support and I have a great amount of respect for them for that. It’s people like Dave who are the problem. People who use their religion as a crutch to prop up their conceited and twisted views on the world, as a mask to hide who they really are.
So let’s rip the mask off Dave, lets kick the crutch from beneath you so it’s actually you that we’re talking to. Let’s speak directly to the recovering alcoholic with a history of drug use that got him kicked out of the most alcoholic band of the 80s. Speak to the violent narcissist about how he really feels. Do you support gay marriage?
“Well I’m no fucking homo so no I don’t. It’s unnatural. While we’re at I’m not black either so back to the plantation. I’m also male so no more jobs for you ladies. I’m an American, so everybody who has come to America can fuck off right home to die in starvation and poverty and buy all of the shit pumped out by our industry. Sorry kids, everything you’ve ever hoped and dreamed about whilst listening to my music is bullshit. You’re going to stay ostricised, bullied, oppressed and assaulted as long as people like me continue to breathe. Here’s a guitar solo – choke on it”
Fifty or sixty years ago people acted like this about the rights of ethnic minorities and now we are rightly ashamed that those people were ever looked at as right. Years into the future, I hope our society looks upon this argument with the same amount of embarassment and asks themselves ‘Why was this even an issue?’
After some careful consideration I thought this might be the sort of thing I would like to share with the wider world and so it has wound up here on my pseudo-socially engaged Metal heavy blog. I know Heavy Metal and homosexuality do not often go hand in hand, I personally can only name the great Rob Halford off the top of my head as an example of a gay metalhead, but the point is that it’s supposed to be about understanding no matter who you are. It shouldn’t matter who you are or what your background is, the feeling of community that music gives can extend to everybody and the music of the downtrodden should be the most fundamental component of this.
You may think I’ve gone slightly far in my treatment of Mustaine with my cross comparison with race and gender debates but frankly if he’s willing to be this derogatory to homosexuals because he’s not one of them then that is unnacceptable and tantamount to saying the same thing about any different background. Tolerance is about love and understanding for people NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE and allowing them the same rights that you allow yourself.
Metal gets enough of a bad rap by people who assume (falsely) that it’s all about violence and hate. Bigots like Dave Mustaine aren’t fucking helping.
Rant over – this is what happens when I’m not just reviewing gigs.