Gig review rating for tonight "Still slightly pissed off and sarcastic, outlook unsettled, but chance of sunny intervals, with occasional storm clouds and the odd shower here and there." Just so as you know where I'm coming from.
First band up are Life Grind, who I've never heard of before. But they're impressive enough. It's hardcore, but really it's metal, with thunderous double kick drums - played on a single kick drum, meaty riffs and plenty of pace. All topped off with the old garglemeister style vocals. Visually it's strange, as they're a fresh faced looking bunch that you think just shouldn't be playing music like this. The drumming is standing out immensly. There's a guy who for one track does the vocals, for the remainder of the set he sporadically dances, does the mime running on the spot thing followed by a few spins width wise across the floor, arms windmilling, a couple of kidney punches aimed at thin air. The vocalist joins in, and yeah, it can look good, but it can also be really intimidating to people. There may well be no intent with this kind of dancing, but sometimes it doesn't come across like that. One track is dedicated to the vocalist friend who was apparently up in court today. They're I don't know, kind of Earth Crisis in a way - it's hardcore, but really it's metal. They're doing fine, very impressive. Until they play "a rock legends song". They admit they've only practiced it once, and they er, add they're own slant to it, but it really is an atrocious version of Paranoid which spoils an otherwise impressive set.
Next are Armour of God, and the place fills. It's basically Iron Monkey with a bit of Hard To Swallow. Morrow is on vocals. I've heard rumours of how they sound like, but I didn't really expect them to be this good. Basically we're kind of tripping back to the early 80's hardcore crossover. DRI, Suicidal Tendancies sort of thing. The riffs chug out, there's a few little guitar solos, and as contemporary as it is in many ways, it's still a throwack. Of course my only gripe are the vocals. You either love Morrows shrieks or you don't. I don't, but he ain't going to change and why should he. Although I do actually make out my first ever chorus these ears have heard the man holler. And it's priceless. "This is dedicated to the idiots that ruined Iron Monkey. This is dedicated to Digby Pearson and Andrew Carter and is called Ruined By Idiots." It's a priceless moment as the Earache boss is stood only a few feet away. Apparently his face just dropped. Ruined by fucking idiots Morrow hollers. This is great stuff, a chug and in a bizarre way, an element of variety that is missing from many of todays hard bands - or maybe it's just been that it's been a while since i heard a band play stuff like this, and it's so good to hear again. It's much more uptempo and in your face than the Monkey was, which is a major plus sign for me.They finish with an Agnositc Front cover - a band I first heard being played many years ago on the Friday Rock show, now thems the days. Superb.
Top that one then Nocte! Ha, ok they say, we'll hit you with a barrage of new stuff. Apparently they're due in the studio in about a fortnights time to record the new album, with an aim to get it released at the end of May. So now's the chance to iron out any wrinkles in the new stuff. And it sounds wicked. Nothing For Second, which was on the Freebase split CD last year was an indicator of the new found adventure in the bands music, and other new songs take it on a bit further. They still hit you hard and fast on the likes of As The Penny Drops, but it's tracks like Scared of Strangers and Deafened By The Sound of Silence. Highlight though is another new track, though one they've been playing live for a while, Inside I'm Dying. They're mixing up the speed blasts with more mid paced stuff, experimenting with their sound a bit and adding more texture. Yet still blasting everything in sight. Paul still gives off one of the most charismatic live performances there is, any notion you could have of the man not trying is dispelled by the sight of him lying on stage at the end of the set trying to recover. It's intense in a manner few bands can truly appreciate. Of course the new material is going to need a few spins to truly make itself at home, they're one of those bands where it's strange - live is truly the only way to experience them, yet you have to have been exposed to the recordings to be able to fully appreciate them live. There's an added degree of complexity in the music now which means that you'll only really understand some of the subtleties by listening to the CD, and then be blown away by the live bulldozing of all before them. First impression is that they've somehow managed to match, and probably top the old material, but it's impossible at this stage to really describe it, that can only come with time. In amidst the power of the new material, it's barely noticeable that they only play a few oldies such as Hooked on Masturbation and All That I Ask. That's about as good a testimony to the potential of the new material as you can actually get. Have they lost the intensity, the aggression? Any chance of selling out? Well, they still manage to lose half the audience from the start of their set to the end. It's a seemingly regular occurance that as distressing as it is too watch, is kind of the best way to sum up the band. Many people like to claim to be intense and hard, but few of them manage to make it through the Nocte experience. They're the people missing out. Pantera are "hard". Let's see if the glossies have the balls to put a new Nocte track on the cover mount CDs. Then lets see how the "hard" stuff shapes up in comparison to them. They'll probably leave scorch marks on the cover as well!