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
Mosh! April 2012
Promoter: Mosh! Winchester
Date: Saturday 19th May 2012
Venue: The Railway, Winchester
Bands: Primitai, Dendera, Dukes of Agares, Fires of Tartarus
Any of you who speak to me on a regular basis, or have read these reviews before, will notice a certain familiarity with the list of bands put on for the latest installment of Winchester’s only metal night. With the exception of Fires of Tartarus this is the second review for every band on the bill tonight. Dukes of Agares opened for Chimaira in my Volume Eight review (8/10), Dendera opened the December Mosh! in my Volume Three review (8/10) and the mighty Primitai charged forth as lead support in my very first review all the way back in Mosh! October 2011 (10/10). So with that in mind, you can probably tell I expected A LOT from this evening as one which could possibly be the best Mosh! yet. Let me tell you, it lived up to expectations and then some.
That aside, let’s start with the new guys on the block (relatively speaking) as the respectably packed venue was treated to Death Metallers Fires of Tartarus. With a name that badass the Hampshire quintet had a lot to live up to and from the opening moments of their set it was clear that we would be in for a fucking pounding. Death Metal can be tricky at the best of times as a lot of complicated and fast paced arrangements need to be juggled effectively alongside the dilemma of keeping it varied enough without losing furious momentum, but watching Fires onstage you got the feeling that all this shit was nothing short of secnd nature. From the sheer brutality of the chugging verse riffs through to epic instrumental passages defying any chance of staleness these guys fucking rocked. Sporting a precision uncommon in bands of this level not one part was left behind throughout the Heavy Metal onslaught bestowed upon us. It was this absolute focus within the band which impressed me the most; whilst each song was true to a fundamental principle of Death there was enough variety in the riffs and rhythms to make them clearly distinguishable from another, a trap I’ve seen a couple of bands fall into tragically.
That said, I can only fault the ‘liveness’ of the experience seeing Fires, each band member looked as if they were bolted to the spot and, whilst the music was nothing short of phenomenal, I couldn’t help but feel I could get the same experience from a CD in the comfort of my own home. Nevertheless as a Death Metal band I could not pick one part out over any other in this impressive opener. Like the blood-soaked gears on an unstoppable killing machine, nothing could stop the beautiful synergy of this deadly assault.
So with my neck already aching and a couple of beers well down me the first of my three review revisits limbered up for their set: The Dukes of Agares. Last time I saw these guys I was very complimentary and it would seem that in the time since that give they have lost none of their momentum and, if anything, came back fighting even stronger. There seems to be a great sense purpose and wisdom behind everything that the Dukes do onstage and, whilst they may not be the most youthful of bands on the circuit, their talents can in no way be questioned. Riffs and blasts thundered through the venue and set the canvas upon which vocalists/guitarists Geoff Kinch and Ian Yabsley painted something truly fucking beautiful. With my second viewing I particularly noted that Kinch has a rare, if not extraordinary, ability to growl and sing at the same time; effectively harmonising with himself. I don’t know what the fucking biology is behind that, or if it’s even possible, but I know what I heard and I don’t care how much beer I’d drunk.
Even in the short time between Dukes’ last appearance and now they’d written new material in the form of ‘The Deluge’, a song which could rip your fucking face off even if it was written about April being a fucking wet month. There’s something frankly brilliant about being able to write a metal song about the weather and if you know any other bands who have achieved it, I challenge you to put it against The Deluge and see which one comes out on top.
Dukes finished their set with all due fire in their bellies and left the stage empty for the coming of the Maidenesque powerhouse Dendera. Previous to tonight Dendera stunned me at the December Mosh with their rough around the edges style of classic metal and if anything their sound has only improved. Still sounding like the feral lovechild of Tom Araya and a banshee; vocalist Ashley Edison swept up the crowds with the fervor reserved for only the best of frontmen and took both audience and stage into his possession as a true beacon of metal spirit. Backing his aweomely powerful vocals the rest of the band each took their own moments in the spotlight as extended musical passages took the moshing audience through the full range of riffs, solos, basslines and drum rolls befitting a metal band who barrelling full tilt into the gates of Hell.
New songs in the repertoire showcased skill and an ability to be more than just an awesomely Maiden style band and the showmanship of each of the three axesmiths allowed them to shine even more compared to their previously subdued performance. Last December I thought Dendera were great. This time round I know they fucking rock.
One of the great things about this night was how many people had showed up for a great fucking evening of Metal and, by the time Dendera were winding down, the venue was getting packed, ready for the South’s shining fire of power metal: Primitai. Kicking off their set with their characteristic high flying and headbanging metal, Primitai truly set the room on fire with their sonic blasts promising some of the best shreds and solos being played in venues right now. Leading the way like Thor on speed, Guy Miller pitched the perfect rapport with us headbangers to get us riled up and ready for each fucking hit whilst the chant a clap along sections brought a kickass sense of community to the whole proceeding. Guitarists Nick Saxby and Srdjan Bilic hold most of the praise though as the solos were truly the burning flame at the core of this Heavy Metal supernova, with each blisteringly quick instrumental onslaught onlygetting better and better.
I won’t go as far as to say Primitai were as good as the last time I saw them. Something I can’t quite put my finger on just didn’t click as well as when they supported Romeo Must Die, but they nevertheless rocked the socks, shoes and shits off of every single one of us in that venue and punctuated the evening with the ultimate full stop as…
…yep, you guessed it…
…THE BEST MOSH! YET.
Fires of Tartarus: 8/10
Dukes of Agares: 9/10
Steak Number Eight’s UK Tour
Promoter: Play It Again Sam Recordings
Date: Thursday 3rd May 2012
Venue: The Cellar, Southampton
Bands: Steak Number Eight, The Smoking Hearts, Idiom, Circle of Reason
Ten Volumes in and I’m still reviewing music. Has much changed? From the looks of things I’m geting a bit more critical, a bit more in depth and a bit less willing to accept mediocrity or the ordinary with what I see. How fitting then that my tenth review comes reviewing a band so far outfield that it’s hard to comprehend their insane view of music at so young an age. Slow down though, I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s the whole evening to get through first.
With its odd shaped upstairs venue encompasing a staircase dangerously jutting in to the mix and a whole wall devoted to a raised platform running to the right of the stage The Cellar was a welcome change to my tried and teasted home ground of the encased box of the Railway. Once I’d got my bearings (and an extra fiver in my change for the ifrst pint – win) and my fill of the SOAD laden soundtrack the notes began to fade and the opening support stepped up to the raised stage behind the rails.
One thing became very clear as Circle of Reason took their instruments and that was the 14+ nature of the gig. A front row lined with Jailbait looked up at the band as they ran through their music bringing to mind elements of a slightly fiercer Nickelback or a very diluted Bullet For My Valentine. This was safe music; unassuming and largely radio-friendly rock with a couple of drop tuned track thrown in alongside vague flickers of harsh vocals (and that, in part, largely explained the relative age of the audience up front). I’m not a huge fan of this sort of stuff but what they did play, they played very well. While ordinarily I would’ve written these guys off straight away their lead guitarist (whose name seems to have escaped the internet) clearly had some flare as he took on the more complex melodies of the pieces effortlessly backed by equal precision on the bass. That said, with that exception there was a touch of a generic feel to what was being played here and I couldn’t help but feel bringing those complex melodies to the fore could probably help these guys to stand out more. I liked them, I just couldn’t bring myself to love them.
So with a lot of ears entrenched in safe and lovely rock music-land it was time for the suckerpunch from hell as the unbridled fireball of Idiom began their ferocious set. Combining a fierce hardcore bulldozer of sound with some seriously powerful riffage Idiom brought us back into the world of metal. Vocalist Matt Sharland was a one man fireworks display crossing the iron rail of the stage repeatedly to bring the noise straight to the audience, whether we wanted to come forward or not. The space was his to command and he took it by the leash in the same vein as some of the best frontmen out there. This was not just a one man effort though and Sharland was backed by the sonic bliss of truly brilliant hardcore laid down by headbanging guitarist Kris Gibbs, bassist Dan Harrison and seriously sharp drummer Grant Knight – even some funky interludes in the closing songs made sure the band didn’t restirct themselves by genre to much and, when the noise came back down, it was Sharland himself who threw me into th pit personally (along with some Baywatch style lifeguards….only at a metal gig!)
I had to have a serious sit down following Idiom as I nearly made the fatal mistake of moshing myself out before the headliners – a cardinal sin – but almost before I’d taken the first swig of my next cider The Smoking Hearts were limbering up to play the lead support set in preparation for the night’s Belgian headliners. I decided to take it easy through the first couple of tracks by the band and give myself a rest. I have to say, it took me those couple of songs to get into these guys. Like Idiom before them The Smoking Hearts embodied a spirit of hardcore with their sound but, whilst the former had embodied this through daring energy, the latter came out with sheer out and out power.
Each riff from guitarists Nobba and Barker was crushing, each bassline from goth-d up Calvin a slaughter and every time Matty slammed the drum it sent a shockwave. Singer Ben Mills brought to mind memories of Romeo Must Die or Cancer Bats and constantly trod the line of the stage whilst not daring to give that little extra push Idiom had accomplished earlier. If I can say anything against this band its that treading the line at that intensity for so long did leave the set feeling like it lacked variety – constantly full-frontal with little room to reflect or push further. Whilst technical difficulties slowed down the closing track it was worth waiting for, firstly because we were entertained with Metallified Queen and Blink 182 covers while we waited and also because the closer was where the glass ceiling shattered as every band member (except Matty) stepped over that line and took to the audience, the bar, the raised platforms (see, I did mention it for a reason) before LITERALLY jumping back onstage to end the set. If that’s not fucking metal, I don’t know what is.
If we ever needed something to embody the spirit of metal though, what was just around the corner would prove it to us. Doing things differently, being true to yourself, aggression, power, melody, intricacy, determination and sheer fucking grit – Steak Number Eight had been embodying all of these things on my iPod for the best part of a month leading up to this gig after their All Is Chaos album came free with Metal Hammer. I hoped desperately that I would not be let down by the band’s highly acclaimed live shows and trust me on this, I wasn’t. Backing their sonic assault of vaguely stoner-esque hard rock the band was backlit by flashing spotlights creating silhouettes and giving the impression of immensely powerful monoliths on the horizon. Alongside sparks and flashes of other lights washing the stage in a dazzling array of colours, this set ceased to be a gig and became a totally immersive experience. The music itself differed very little from what I’d heard on All is Chaos and the incredible ‘Dickhead’ and ‘Pyromaniac’ both sounded as mind bending and transcendental as they had through my headphones. The music washed over me and inhabited every pore of my body, soaking through until I was entirely at its mercy and taken away by wave after wave of sound and light madness.
Combining the mind-bending musicality of Mastodon with the sheer sense of spectacle associated with Tool the only thing that let these guys down was their audience, not wanting to join in or rock out on the same level as my hairy drunken arse was. Maybe they’re just not established enough in Britain to create the same buzz bands on the same level of talent can. The transition will be tough but with the backing of one serious music publication and a sound unlike anything I’ve heard before I’m sure they’ll make it and I will be fucking proud to be one of those arsehole hipsters standing there saying ‘I saw them back when they played tiny venues’.
Apologies in advance.
Circle of Reason: 6/10
The Smoking Hearts: 7/10
Steak Number Eight: 10/10
Mosh! March 2012
Promoter: Mosh! Winchester
Date: Saturday 31st March 2012
Venue: The Railway, Winchester
Bands: Silent Prophecy, Black Skies Burn, Eternal Torment
So another month, another Mosh. Back at The Railway which is quickly becoming the most regular of my nightly haunts and ready for another night of great fucking metal. Working in a different town every Saturday now does mean that my batteries are a little low on charge when it comes to Saturday nights out but, as anybody who reads The Misplaced Metalhead will know, I’m not going to let shit like that stop me. I was a little disappointed to learn that the usual four pronged setlist had been demoted to three on short notice but fuck it, this night is still the best metal night you’re going to get in Winchester – so on with the show.
Leading the charge were Classic NWOBHM tinged thrash gunners Eternal Torment. Not only was the gig off to a reduced band count but, I learned shortly after, the opening act were also a man down for this night. Nevertheless, even at reduced numbers, Eternal Torment were a particularly brilliant sight to behold. With arms rising powerfully in the air like a great and mighty Adonis, vocalist James Manley-Bird rocked his way through the setlist as the driving force of a strong and determined metal band. Reminiscent of Blaze Bayely (pre-hair loss), Manley-Bird was a consumate frontman who held the attention of everybody in the room…well…those of us who weren’t moshing the fuck out.
It wasn’t just the vocals that held us though and the giant singer was backed up by a very tight and impressive band. Sporting the type of metal which has kept the faithful’s neck fixing bills high for decades, each song felt like a classic of yester-year. Even songs starting with a nice little banter along the lines of ‘Cleopatra – big nose, but nice rack’. Particular praise has to go to guitarist Martin Sheath who made the abscence of a rhythm guitarist completely impreceptible (I didn’t even realsie they were a five-piece until it was mentioned).
This was a band sporting some great metal the way it’s worked for years. Yes it’s a bit old fashioned, yes it’s been done. Fact of the matter is Eternal Torment are one hell of an argument for ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’.
In the ensuing gap between sets the audience started to filter out of the venue so when the lead support Black Skies Burn took their instruments and prepared to rock there were only a few of us left watching. Without meaning to sound too judgemental or cruel, it wasn’t long into the set before I started to think the people out the back had the right idea. Suffocated by an overwrought bassline; the band thundered clumsily through several songs often indistinguishable from one another. I could see the fingers of the guitarists working wildly and flying up and down the fretboard but, underneath the collossal sound of the bass guitar, we could barely hear any notes. I’ve seen deathcore bands before and been pretty impressed by them but Black Skies Burn was a remarkable exception. This was a band operating on one level – noise – pure and simple. Some people may like that, good luck to them if they do, but if this was the only example I’d been given I just wouldn’t be sold.
So with both supports finished it was time, sooner than expected, for the lead act of the night: female fronted hard rockers Silent Prophecy. There’s a certain cliche that you often find with female fronted bands that the singer becomes the sole focus of attention and the rest of the band get left behind, almost like a backing band (i.e. Paramore, Nightwish, old school Within Temptation etc). With this in mind I resolved to make sure I didn’t fall into this trap when reviewing and took the band as a whole.
Long story short, I didn’t need to make a special effort with Silent Prophecy as the band rocked fucking hard as a whole, and as individuals. Unlike most bands, where I find the guitarists hold most of my attention, the real hero of this band was drummer Rowell who combined fast-paced fills to keep the rhythm tight along with a few flights into polyrhythmic soloing you generally get from the likes of Mastodon and Tool. That said, the hard rock offered by the rest of the band wasn’t exactly lacklustre and the triple barreled string assault from guitarists Big T and Ollie and bassist GG was something to behold as my head windmilled its way into oblivion.
I realise now I’ve kind of invented my own trap by trying to avoid another one, having done a review based on the vocalist by avoiding the vocalist. Sorry about that, normal service now resuming. Singer Theresa was a great crowd pleaser with a good voice, one which greatly suited the music, but didn’t seem to get into her stride until about the third song. It’s not that she wasn’t good, because she really was, but her voice was sometimes swallowed up by the rest of the band and until song four became very difficult to hear. The thing that stood out above this though was a great sense of synergy between Theresa and the rest of the band – never once falling into that trap that I mentioned before. These guys love doing what they do, and frankly they should be damn proud of it.
You may remember from my last review that Mosh! February set the bar pretty fucking high so I did come away feeling a bit disappointed. I’ll make a ‘wild’ assumption here though and assume that had something to do with being drunk (the £5 card limit does seem to turn me into a man who buys drinks 2 at a time). Looking back on it now with the benefit of hindsight it wasn’t the best gig I’ve been to but now I’m sure to keep a look out for Eternal Torment and Silent Prophecy. That’s the best thing about local gigs; you’d be hard pressed to find great bands that you’ll never see again.
Eternal Torment: 8/10
Black Skies Burn: 1/10
Silent Prophecy: 7/10