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Friday, 6 June 2014

The View From The Back Of The Room: Absolva & Babylon Fire

Absolva & Babylon Fire, Ebbw Vale Institute

Into the valleys and to the lovely Ebbw Vale Institute for a night of British metal. Seriously this venue is excellent, decked out like a church, meaning great acoustics and filled to the brim with a plethora of alcohol (shame I was driving). We were ready for the support band, we waited.....and waited....and waited. They never showed so after and hour of mingling with the limited crowd (a real shame) it was time for Babylon Fire to kick things off:

Babylon Fire

Decked out like the Sons Of Anarchy came from Manchester Babylon Fire proceeded to blow our heads off with some muscular, modern metal with the occasional hint to the past. The bands sound and live performance reminded me of Panic Cell especially the vocals and overall "I'm going to kill you!" demeanour of vocalist Mark D who roared and crooned as much as Luke ever did. This is modern American metal with a British twist, with a set drawn from their latest album it was full of fist pumping, head banging metal with songs like The Clarion Call, Darkness Draws Me In, Blood In Blood Out, the early era thrashing of Freight Train and Rise Through Babylon. despite the small crowd Mark did his best to incite excitement and a few hardcore were banging their heads with glee at the front while Rishi Mehta riffed like Wylde, Ryk Swillo rumbled his bass and Mark Cooper destroyed his drum kit. A band clearly in the wrong country Babylon Fire would be more at home tearing up the boards of America supporting FFDP. Still their chest beating macho metal went down a storm with myself and Mr Hewitt. The boys killed it laying down the gauntlet to Absolva. 8/10


Trying to follow that was going to be a big ask but I knew that Absolva were up to the task having seen them at Bloodstock last year and right out of the blocks the band exploded with their Priest-like metal full off killer riffage from Chris Appleton. The band roared through a set made up of old an new with From Beyond The Light, Code Red, Hundred Years and the amazing Flames Of Justice along with a few tracks from the new album Anthems To The Dead. Now again despite the small crowd (there really should be a bigger crowd for a band on a Friday night) Absolva put up a good fight with some seriously great songs and a stage performance similar to the heads down knock their block off delivery of Megadeth. Martin McNee's drums are fierce, Dan Bates bass gallops and rumbles as necessary and Appleton's guitars rip you a new one with his fret melting solo's being a guitar fans dream. Still they didn't play a perfect set, well they would have if they had stopped a song short of the encore. After finishing their set of original material they proceeded to go into a cover of Powerslave now a Maiden cover immediately drops you a point in my marking criteria (there is such a thing) no matter how good, it shouldn't be done, I will admit theirs was good but still rules are rules. I could have accepted this but to then move into Heaven And Hell (possibly the most covered metal song?) to end your set bordered on silliness. For a band with two(!) albums to play two covers to end there set doesn't make any sense to me. I mean I can see if they played a Fury UK song (Appleton and McNee's previous incarnation) but Maiden and Sabbath have been done to death. I'm sorry but guys stick to your own material, you have enough of it and it is all very good you don't need the covers. 7/10

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