Pain, The Vision Bleak, Dynazty & Billion Dollar Babies, The Fleece Bristol
Heading to the Fleece is always a joy, the Seven Stars next door is always a good shout for good beer and parking for the venue is always free. With a stacked four band set the doors were open early and 15 minutes after they let the 8 people that were in the room into the venue, Billion Dollar Babies (5) arrived on stage. Personally I was interested how they would fair in the live arena as their album is very polished affair, as the all packed themselves on to the tiny stage that was taken up mostly by the headliners' drum kit the amount of fishneting and eyeliner was enough to scream GOTH in capital letters and as they played every song basically blended into one samey, uninspired, song. Shame as I liked the album but live there wasn't much spark, maybe it was due to the crowd size but with a good band that doesn't matter.
So out to the pub we went for a tasting platter of ales to compare, all of which were finished by the time Dynazty (7) had started their set, with an album produced by Peter Tägtgren these Swedes (one of three Swedish bands on the bill) place was assured, however they did stick out like a sore thumb as they play bouncy power metal which was in strict opposition to the rest of the bands playing, still they are entertaining enough with dual guitar licks, galloping rhythms and strong vocals and I would have scored them higher had they not committed the cardinal sin of freaking bass solo mid way through the set. I realise bassists are an almost vital part of most bands but bass solos are the pits equal only to most drum solos that aren't played by Neil Peart. Still the now bigger crowd gave them a warm reception and after another short change over we decided to stick around for the only band on the bill we didn't know anything about.
With an ominous intro and dressed head to foot in black and corpse paint, the self described 'horror metal' band The Vision Bleak (8) slid onto the stage took their positions and then unleashed hell. The German band is made up of guitarist/vocalist Ulf Theodor Schwadorf and imposing vocalist Allen B. Konstanz both of whom pretty much play everything on the records, relying on a session drummer and guitarist to help out on stage, no bassist for this band going against my earlier statement, not that it mattered as the discordant wall of guitars was enough to get heads banging to the thumping metal sound created by the band.
The Vision Bleak are a mix of the stomping industrial metal of Rammstein, the doom -laden imagery of Paradise Lost and occult stage mastery of Ghost, especially from the dapper frontman who had a throaty baritone for tracks such as Descend Into Maelstrom and the mighty Kututlu! Metal with an unhealthy dose of Lovecraftian horror was an excellent way of preparing for the more off the wall approach of the headliners, setting the scene for Peter and co excellently.
So the time had come all the rest of the stage was cleared and the mammoth drumkit sat in the middle of the stage now empty except for three mic stands. Returning bassist Andre Skaug led the way, followed by new guitarist Greger Andersson and Peter's son Sebastian perching behind the kit. As the cheers increased the twisted genius himself took tot he stage clad in a straight jacket, guitar slinging and taking off with the riff for the adrenaline fuelled Designed To Piss You Off the elder Tägtgren shouted the songs confrontational and deliberately annoying chorus as the die-hard crowd lapped it up bouncing about like mad. For what started out as side-project for the Hypocrisy frontman Pain (8) now has a life of it's own, the mix of industrial, techno and crazy metal getting the crowd going in a frenzy.
The live show was unrelenting rattling off Suicide Machine, The Great Pretender and Zombie Slam in quick succession taking the bulk of the set from his most recent disc Coming Home, the title track was one of the few slower moments in the set, but for the most part the band switched positions frequently, taunting each other on stage and at one point Andre even played the bass in the crowd. Musically crushing, visually there was an impressive light show and the addition of a crawling hooded figure stalking the stage and Sabaton's Joakim arriving in puppet form to 'sing' his part on Call Me. Given a bigger stage I think Peter's brain would concoct a stage show to rival the Coop but we may have to wait for that one.
Still with a set packed with killer cuts like Pain In The Ass, Same Old Song and the climactic Shut Your Mouth (complete with expletives) the enthusiastic crowd were both pleased and knackered from exerting the energy, I was exhausted from just watching them. I hope it doesn't take them another 3 years to tour again (their last UK leg concluded at Bogiez Cardiff in 2013) as for as much talent Tägtgren displays on the records this one man project is just as splendid live.