Friday, 13 July 2012

Oh what a Gig...


Bloodstock, Metal to the Masses Battle of the Bands.
Bristol Final. Thursday 12th July


Bands playing were       :- Fever Sea
                        :- Seprevation
                        :- Control the Storm
                        :- Somnus

The premise behind this gig was that the many bands in Bristol were competing for a place on the Bloodstock stage and even being sent out to Waken. With such a prize, was it any wonder that some very talented bands tried to get to the place?

Carol and I were invited to the final of the events by the organiser Lawrence and frankly it was not a disappointment. Every band that played showed a level of professionalism unsurpassed by many actually signed bands. Not every band was to my personal taste, but it was not possible to fault them for effort, talent or showmanship. Frankly, having four bands of this quality on one stage in the same night is just spoiling the appreciative fans.

Now as a reviewer, I am looking to be critical, offer my opinion and let you know if I think that seeing these bands is worth while, but you know what? You need to check out these bands yourselves, if you get the chance, do so. You will not be disappointed because each one of them was awesome.

The intro by Simon from Bloodstock was fun and informative, seeing that metal is alive and well in the UK was obviously a boost for him and seeing the fans responding to his comments and free t-shirts was pretty cool. He then told the crowd that tonights winner was going to Bloodstock. You could feel the excitement in the air.

The first band was my personal favourite, which is one hell of a statement given the impressive display that was about to commence. So Fever Sea, a band so heavy that they have their own gravity! If you want to categorise them, imagine a band made up of six parts Neurosis and four parts Isis. With elements of evil and pain, the sound that came from these guys was bleak and dark. Frankly, it was beautiful. I could feel every blast beat in my heart, physically and metaphorically. The music is punishing, angry and aggressive and just when you thought that the torment on stage could not get worse, the singer starts hitting himself with the mic. It symbolises the pain of the music and the show is utterly epic.

Fever Sea
The singers vocals are mixed between the guttural despairing howls of a dying animal and the clean crisp sound of a man who knows how to use his voice to touch the heart of Gods. This band are the sort of band that you want to spend time listening too, this is not a band to have in the back ground when you have friends over, this is a band that want you to feel the emotion of every song and I think that they are right. I want to hear them on an album because it think that they have the sort of sound that can pull in light. A thirty minute set was not enough.

As Fever Sea left the stage, the change over crew hit it running and the next band started to set up.  Carol popped outside for a fag and I watched the crowd sudden swell, including a couple who were clearly the parents of one of the bands members.

Seprevation were all smiles, innocent smiles and Iron Maiden patches. Nothing indicated that we were about to be battered about the head with some brutal Thrash Metal! The lead singer is everything that is good about Old School Thrash, he has the smile that screams out loudly “I love what I fucking do!”  He has the gurns needed to front a band like this and he works his face as hard as he works his Bass. Kids this young throwing out Thrash of this quality cannot be a bad thing, the roots of the scene can be heard in there, but this is all original and the crowd are clearly and rightly on their side.

Seprevation
One word of warning though, if you go and see this band, make an appointment with your spinal unit for the next day! Head Banging that hard must cause damage! Fuck me, they went for it and you can see the allegiance to the scene in their denim cut offs and band shirts.

Now I have stated that you can hear the influences in the sound and this is not a bad thing, I could hear the old school being channelled by this band, bands I have not listened to or thought about since I was in my late teens. This is a band that will be worshipped in modern German Thrash circles and we all know how mad German Thrash fans can be for the music. The pace is typical of thrash, it gallops along, no that is not right, this is beyond gallop, This is the equivalent of a drag bike on a quarter mile, damn they are fast!

The vocals came through loud and clear, clearly enjoying his singing and yet bashing away at that bass, which leads me to a question. How the fuck does a guy like this head bang like a loon, continue to play his guitar like it is a tactical weapon and sing like that, all at the same time! I would hazard that this guy can rub his tummy, pat his head and juggle chainsaws at the same time!

The energy coming from the stage is huge, you could have run a city on the power produced, these kids are energised with a love of thrash and the influence is so clear it pats them on the back with gratitude for keeping the scene alive. The Slayer influenced solos are accomplished and expertly executed, have these guys done anything else in their youth other than listen to the best musicians out there? I knew that they would be successful, but at the end of the night when they were announced as winners, I do not think that they believed it. Well done lads, Bloodstock and Waken will love you.

The third band to hit the stage were Control the Storm, a six piece band with a woman vocalist, a manic keyboardist and a lead guitarist who has probably been intimate with that guitar! Now let me state for the record, I am not a fan of power metal for any of it’s dramatic solos and squawking vocals, but even I can see when a band is worthy of respect. Sadly for the first couple of songs, the sound levels were somewhat out and the singers vocals were buried in the guitars along with the keyboard. However, once this was sorted, a talented and exceptional band rocked through the sort of set that makes men in kilts want to quaff ale and rampage!

Control the Storm
When I saw them hit the stage I had horrible fears of a Nightwish clone, but this is actually a long way from the reality. This band are a disciplined, practiced and relentless force to be reckoned with. Carol the photographer looked at me and gave me her biggest smile of the night, her thumbs up only added to the message. This band was Carol’s band of the night and I am pretty sure that she would have been happy to just see this band all evening. Knowing that I am a nasty cow who loves black metal she has told me that I have to tell you how much she enjoyed their performance.

For me, I can admit that they know their stuff, but I would ask that they sutbly change their mix a little so that the vocals, keyboard and backing vocals are a little higher in the mix. The drumming and guitar though are mesmerising and played with an honest intent and brutality that is refreshing in the power metal scene. Each song is performed with an honest integrity, this band earnestly want you to believe in them as mush as they do themselves and to be honest it is not hard to be drawn along, even if you are a jaded Black Metal fan like me. The fan that climbed the support beams that hold up the ceiling just so that he could rock out is a clear sign that these guys know what they are doing and when they get you in their sights, they absolutely shine. Power Metal is pure escapist fun and if that is your thing, you will love this band, but maybe not as much as Carol did!

The last band of the night was Somnus, and as soon as I saw the Bass player, I knew that I would enjoy the music about to start. You see as every one in the metal scene knows, when you see a man with his head on upside down, it is going to get heavy! Yes, the ubiquitous Heavy Metal Beard and shaved head look is an indicator that the next band mean serious business. The Anthrax shirt on the guitarist suggests that they know what heavy stuff is and then the painfully sharp witted singer comes forward. Noise annihilates the crowd, the screamed vocals brutalise the room. Oh fuck yes…

Somnus
Somnus bring you the Death strike. I stood there watching that stage and I knew that this band were going to hurt us, but it was ok, they had to do so! When Simon introduced them he warned us that they were going to rip our faces off and he played it down. Musically they are deeply intense, it comes at you wave after wave of brutality, clearly a professional band, doing what is encoded in their genes, this is the terminator of death metal, they just do not stop! The first two tracks decimate the room, the suddenly enlarged crown worship them for doing so. The vocalist is terrifying in his intensity, this is not a band you want to face when you are in the wrong, they will flatten you with a look.

In terms of delivery, this band is by a head, above the other bands that played, yet the political side to them makes them a difficult pill for the fun loving metal heads to swallow. Do not listen to this band if you like songs about riding on freight trains, roses with thorns or girls who are poison. Do listen to this band if you are mature enough to understand that the world is shit, to know that capitalism is eating the soul of humanity and that fascism is not the way ahead for a thinking society. This band are making a point and it is nailed on to their performance with integrity and anger and hatred of injustice. I knew this after three songs and then he said it, “This song is about my desire to punch Simon Cowell in the face… with Jason’s (Bass player) cock!”

Leaping into the crowds and surfing over the hands of those who adore them while still managing to brutalise the crowd with evil vocals is a skill that this man has mastered, their stage presence is intimidating and yet loving. There is a feral quality to them, like a hungry tiger, you want to approach, but worry that you may get eaten! With the last song played, I was reminded of Ripley in Aliens. We were just Nuked from Orbit! What a gig.

Through out the night, the biggest problem was the sound levels, given the difficulties of the room, it was impressively handled, but it was there for almost every act. The final speech from Bloodstock Simon was heartfelt and earnest. Heavy metal music is about passion and the scene is alive and well despite what the mainstream wants you to believe. I have been lucky in that I have seen some great bands in the last couple of weeks, but the message is important here. You must absolutely support the new up and coming bands, give them a place to play, congratulate them when they succeed and don’t hold a grudge if they need to practice a little more. With out the musicians and fans, there is no scene, yet with out the scene, you will be drip fed the sort of music that Simon Cowell believes is right for you. Say no to manufactured Pop Music, organised number ones that put the latest radio friendly shite in the sales lists. Say no to this bollocks and embrace your local scene. There are bands out there who are blowing peoples minds and at this gig I saw four of them.

Support your local scene and have your mind blown, you will not regret it and send the corporate music machine this message. FUCK YOU!

 We would like to give a big Thank you to Lawrence from Megalith Pro Motions for the tickets and warm welcome at the venue. Folks, you need to keep your eye on these guys, because they have some good stuff on the books and they support the scene. Keep it real guys, we need more promoters like you at Megalith Pro Motions to make brilliant events like this work as well as this one.