Call me Russ L

Far beyond metal

Posted in Music by Russ L on 11 February, 2010

I would recommend, bredrins and sistrins, that you don your denim-jacket-with-the-arms-ripped-off-and-patches-sewn-on-the-back for this one. It was a Very Metal weekend.

Random metal titbit – “Spinal Tap” is great, but “Bad News” and “More Bad News” are both a hundred times funnier. I would very much recommend that you have a watch of them, if you never have before.

Friday the 29th brought the opportunity to go and see some Unholy Black Metal. Black metal may be only too easy to mock, with the sad panda face paint and the right wing imagery and the guitars that alternate between sounding like a wasp trapped in a jar and someone trying to hum whilst shivering, but… I’m not sure where I’m going with this, actually. There are good bands and bad bands, anyway, just like everything else.

Off I toddled to The Asylum, which is a bit of a rum ‘un – affiliated with Madhouse rehearsal studios, it’s a massive outhouse-seeming thing with a corrugated tin roof (probably not actual tin, now I come to think about it). The barstaff wear nurse/medical orderly uniforms, presumably because the name of the place is “The Asylum”. You can tell they’ve put some thought into this.

I missed the first couple of bands (trainfail rather than my own fault, for a change), and so Anaal Nathrakh started the gig for me. Former members of the ace Mistress (accompanied by others live) play black metal mixed with a plenty of grind (and Nietzschean self-help slogans between songs. Still no camels though, even after all these years). They have a hell of a lot of raw power to their sound and some hooks in their songs, as well as a great frontman in Dave. This makes them uncool in the truest of black metal circles, obviously.

Music aside, the funniest moment in their set occurred when it was brought to the attention of the band that people wanted to stagedive and were not allowed. A speech was given about thinking that this was an extreme metal gig where properly there should be no rules and regulations (well I never did) (this was far more exploitative, meanwhile, than other things said earlier that were fretted over) (anyway…), and a stage invasion occurred. Said invaders then proceeded to stand in a line and politely shuffle off the edge of the stage one at a time. There’s probably a moral in this, but I’m buggered if I can figure out what it is.

After what felt like an excessive wait we had Swedes Marduk, who are named after the Babylonian god rather than the Midlands term of affection. Sadly. They didn’t quite sound like the odds and ends I’d heard some years ago – I recall them having a lot of death metal in their black metal (technical terms whoo!), but that wasn’t evident amongst the more typical sound here-heard. Whilst I confess that I’m not the most rhythmically inclined frood out there (I’m better with rhythm than tonality, but still crap with both), it definitely sounded like there were a couple of times when the drummer changed tempo a bit sooner than the rest of them managed. We’re all only human I suppose (etc etc etc). I still quite enjoyed the bunch of songs I heard before nipping off for the train, anyway, although probably wouldn’t go out of my way for them.

(Other people write here and here).

Random metal titbit – Bruce Dickinson’s “Accident Of Birth” is an unjustly forgotten proper-metal album. It’s bloody great.

The following night (that would be Saturday the 30th, chronology fans) I went to the Academy 2. This is the second time I’ve been to the new version, and much like the new main Academy room it’s not great but it’s far better than the old one. More so, really, as a result of the old Academy 2 being the least likeable live venue I’ve ever encountered (the old Academy main room was merely one of the least likeable live venues I’ve ever encountered). The scrum at the bar was three/four deep all night, so I didn’t have a drink. That was certainly like the old one, where I had a strict boycott.

I arrived in time for the last few songs of Violent Arrest, who constituted a punk interlude in this most metal of weekends. I read afterwards that their ranks include former members of Ripcord, Heresy and The Varukers (amongst others) and that’ll gives you a good idea of their sound. Alright enough, anyway. It was especially surreal to hear a band like this in a venue like this – this sort of hall is always weird and inhuman, obviously, but seeing the sort of turn that I’d normally encounter nowhere other than in a Digbeth boozer amplifies that no end.

Victims had an appropriate sound for our move back towards metal from punk – Motorheady/Dischargey total energy and aggression and ramalamalama, but with hooks a-plenty too. Seeing them in a place like the Aca wasn’t as surreal (as such) ar it was for Violent Arrest, but it was nevertheless a real shame – Victims would have torn (say) The Flapper a new arsehole. Still ace, though.

I have to admit to having leaped to a bit of a hasty judgement, after this. The crowd (in the break between bands) were initially very annoying indeed (squealing whenever a band member walked onto the stage to look at his amp or whatever-have-you), but in the long run it turned out that their excitability turned out to be a great thing for the general atmosphere. It is interesting to note (well, I say “interesting”…) that – although this is the fourth time I’ve seen Municipal Waste – the settings in which I’ve seen them have varied a fair bit (two rammed Flapper gigs, the first involving a massive bunch of young’uns all dressed up for the preceding set by Send More Paramedics; a half curtained-off but still barely a quarter full JB’s; and then this – several hundred people going seven shades of mentalist in a glossy corporate venue).

Seven shades of mentalist sums it up pretty well. I like Municipal Waste and their ther-rash metal (or late 80s thrash crossover, if you particularly will) a lot and they were on as wonderful form as ever here, but this was one of those gigs where the crowd provides as much excitement (and need for a tin hat) as the band. Enormous circle pits (ah… it would’ve been fun once, but it’s a young man’s game) and walls-o’-death, and even a new one to me called the “chicken fight”. Folk mount each others shoulders and engage in high-altitude pushing and slapping. The winner (arbitrarily decided, it has to be said) was promised free merchandise if he then crowdsurfed all the way to the back, which he eventually managed after being briefly passed the wrong way. I hope he shared his swag with his mate who’d carried him – surely that lad was the one doing all the actual work.

Fun beyond belief, anyway – antics (antics~!) combined with great silly thrash and lyrics about sharks and being electrocuted and so forth. If you don’t understand the appeal I’ll probably never be able to explain.

(Other words about this gig here, here and here).

Random metal tibit – I happened to hear Danzig’s “Mother” the other day and was confused. Perhaps I don’t dislike the pompous goth-metal dwarf’s music quite as much as I thought I did. It certainly didn’t sound like I thought I remembered it sounding – I have a sneaky suspicion that I may have been confusing Danzig with Type O Negative. He himself always still comes across as a complete tit, whichever way up.