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Monday, 12 March 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Blood Stained Earth Tour (Live Review By Paul)

Blood Stained Earth Tour 2018, Fiddlers Bristol

This event was originally planned for the Bristol Bierkeller but was hastily rescheduled to Fiddlers on the other side of the river due to the horrendous decision to redevelop the Bierkeller site and remove with it one of the most well regarded and used music venues in Bristol. Fiddlers isn’t a patch on the Bierkeller. Water dripping through the ceiling, several beers not available and a sound system that took forever to settle but well done to all involved for actually managing to secure a venue to ensure this event actually took place.

Earlier in the day the event Facebook page had received some criticism when the set times were published, due to the late start and the short sets. However, arriving way after the advertised kick off due to the horrendous Bristol traffic, it was something of a surprise to see fans queuing to enter the venue and an even greater surprise to hear nothing blasting out of the amps. In fact, the main room where the bands played wasn’t even open. Around 8:30 pm the doors finally opened, and a reasonable crowd spilled into the room to watch one of the most farcical sights seen for a long time. Opening act Survive (0) are a death thrash outfit from Japan.

As the band tuned up and checked the sound on stage, it was clear that drummer Shintarou was missing. In his place, another drummer, who definitely wasn’t Japanese, appeared to be struggling with the time keeping and the other three members of the band were in deep conversation with him. As time ticked by, the crowd began to get a little restless and eventually the lead singer Nemo screamed “Are you ready Bristol?” A false start was followed by another and within three minutes that was it, as the band picked up their equipment and walked off stage. A less than auspicious start and a bemused audience were left scratching their heads.

Canadian symphonic thrashers Aeternam (6) did at least get to play some music. More time to tune up suggested that there was more than one issue with the backlines. By now the event was way behind time but Aeternam played a solid, if curtailed set. Having been around since 2007, the band are an established and confident outfit, although it’s unclear if their ethnic symphonic metal was everyone’s cup of tea. Vocalist and guitarist Acraf Loudiy was urgently cajoling the audience from the start, but the crowd was in no mood to be bullied and it was only towards the end of the set that the reaction became more favourable. This was a shame as the band’s latest album, Ruins of Empires is excellent.

Whatever the problems with the sound, all the gremlins were soon eradicated when Brazilian thrash trio Nervosa (8) hit the stage. The all-female outfit went for it from the start, their visceral attack inciting the first of many pits during the evening. The diminutive Fernanda Lira snarled and roared her way through the mighty set, her vocal delivery a more intense Angela Gossow in style. Beside her the powerhouse drumming of Luana Dametto was astonishing whilst guitarist Prika Amaral shredded with freedom. The room was heating up nicely now and the pent-up frustrations of earlier in the evening faded with Nervosa’s high energy assault. This was powerful stuff and tracks from their latest album Agony, such as Intolerance Means War merged perfectly with older tracks such as the killer Into The Mosh Pit. A deserved ovation.

It wasn’t that long ago that New York Death Metal Legends Suffocation (9) almost caused the Bierkeller to collapse with a stellar show. Now with Ricky Myers leading from the front on vocals, the band knew they were on borrowed time so kept it straight to the point. A sharp, punchy and effortlessly brutal set sent the pit into raptures, with the floor so slippery that at times there were more fallers than at Beecher’s Brook. The dual guitars of Terrence Hobbs and Charles Errigo lacerated as tracks including Effigy Of The Forgotten, Clarity Through Deprivation and a storming Catatonia ripped through the venue. Once more, it was the battery of Eric Morotti’s drumming that caught the eye and the ear as he absolutely pounded the hell out of his kit. Myers interactions with the crowd consisted of a repeated urge to “kill each other” along with a genuine appreciation of the efforts of the now shirtless mass in front of him. Brutal stuff but totally addictive.

It was past the witching hour when Venom Inc (9) finally hit the stage to a disappointedly sparse crowd. However, those that had been able or chosen to remain were treated to a blistering hour of old school Venom classics interspersed with some rip-roaring tunes from the fine Ave release. Tony 'Demolition Man' Dolan was in fine form, roaring his vocals with gusto whilst pummelling his bass like it had done him wrong. Alongside Dolan, Mantas sliced and shredded with a malevolence of sinister chaos. With Abaddon on paternity leave, stand in drummer Jeramie Kling was tasked with bringing the noise and he did it with ease, his pounding style fitting effortlessly.

Metal We Bleed and set opener Ave Satanas were greeted like old friends but amidst the scorching set it was the old school rarities such as Live Like An Angel Die Like A Devil, Die Hard and the ferociously welcomed Lady Lust that raised the loudest roars. This is a band who are not content to rely on past glories but are respectful of the Venom heritage. Dolan is an imposing frontman, maniacal eyes scanning the crowd whilst all the while demonstrating the respect that the Venom Legions demand whilst Mantas plays with a confidence that was understandably absent in those halcyon days. The only disappointment came when the set ended, but to be fair, 1:15 am is probably sufficient for most. Venom Inc play at BOA this summer. Whether the intensity of this opening night can be captured in the field at Catton Hall is questionable but I’m willing to give it a try. Immense stuff.

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