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Tuesday 23 July 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Bloodshot Dawn (Live Review By Matt)

Bloodshot Dawn, Damim, Fissure Of Riddles & Pemphigoid, The Gryphon, Bristol

A Thursday night jaunt over the bridge is something we've done many times, but it's not usually to see a band who are one, playing Cardiff later this year and two performing in one of Bristol's smallest venues. But with a stacked supporting roster I went over to MoM's Second City and met up with some of our new Bristol friends for what was looking to be a heck of a show! After one or two non-alcoholic beers (driving) it was up the stairs in this brilliant alternative pub for the first band of the evening.

We had seen opening band Pemphigoid (7) before at BMF666 Easter Massacre where this Nottingham trio had impressed despite being the first band of the day, though here they were more impressive again, their medical-themed death metal (they are named after a autoimmune blistering skin disease) is raw, filthy and decidedly old school sounding. With the mountainous Ash taking the grunted vocals and grinding guitars the band slipped into a set comprised of tracks from their debut album Where Compassion Comes To Die the thunderous, groove-laden rhythm section of Rich (drums) and Bill (bass) sharing that late-80's/early-90's old-school death metal inspiration. Musically they bring to mind Obituary with heavy,they aren't all about speed and precision, which was to come, but about feel, their slower tracks pulverized in wave of distortion and noise. A pretty heavy way to kick off the evening but if it was possible things were about to get heavier substantially. Back down stairs for a bit of fresh air first, the small performance room in the roof of the pub is a little stifling in the heat due to lack of windows. Outside we chatted with our friends from Questionable Life Choices as well as members of Voluntas and Dies Holocaustum, a balmy Thursday evening meant that Bristol's metal fraternity were crammed into The Gryphon, although most were at the show some were just enjoying the beers and metal downstairs.

However as it was my journalistic duty, and of course because live music is the best I once again went upstairs as Fissure Of Riddles (7) were just starting to play. These South Coast noise merchants play what they call progressive sludge so that means they have flowing progressive metal sounds where they shift gears and bring intricate musical soundscapes juxtaposed with Southern Sludge metal that is heavily distorted, bass led and thicker than tar. It's an interesting mix but it did mean they were the 'sore thumb' on the bill playing a much slower, less direct style than any of the other bands, still they are a band that drew attention with their mammoth riffs and one that I'd happily see again, perhaps with bands more of their own style.

Another small break and it was upstairs again for the band that won me round to this show, London blackened thrashers Damim (9) playing one of only 5 (announced) shows this year, which included Eradication Deathfest and Bloodstock Open Air, so it was a rare treat to see the band that features Nathaniel, formally of Akercocke on guitar and vocals. I'd seen Damim once in Fuel rock club and their blackened thrash metal grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. They have a laser like focus, clinical and to the point, like a missle to the heart of The Gryphon It was a frenetic technical barrage with a nod to theatricality as well. Their songs are Nihilist anthems, nothing happy on the agenda but they are delivered with aggression by Nathaniel, Flow (drums), Edd (guitar) and Faust (bass) who were synchronised like a well oiled killing machine.

They were a huge step up in terms of skill, which is not a slight at the other bands, but Damim are made up of very experienced musicians. The venue's size and sound limitations did render their wall of sound a little muddy, things got better as they progressed cracking out numbers from their recently released new record A Fine Game Of Nil which was still relatively new to the crowd but with older stuff such as the frantic set closer Mirror Image Ritual they got the heads windmilling wildly. Roll on Bloodstock Festival and their New Blood stage special guest headline performance!

So then it was time for the headliners, the Portsmouth technical death metal mob Bloodshot Dawn (9) stormed the stage in what could be considered a MetalDays warm up set. Their setlist was mainly drawn from Reanimation their most recent release which saw the band flesh out their sound with synths, which were most notable on Survival Evolved which had the layered synths giving it a melo-death sound although with the usual Bloodshot technicality, following on from this was Shackled and Seared Earth both of which from Reanimation and got a rousing reception. However it was the older stuff like Godless got the biggest reaction with the death metal hardcore's at the front, leading to wild pits, that were so intense that frontman Josh had to warn people not to get too close and knock down his mic stand. Bloodshot were blistering, flurries of lead guitars mastery, death metal riffs and grunted vocals were the theme for the entire set, which led to more windmills than Holland.

Special mention must go to their session drummer, who was behind the stool due to their regular skin smasher being away with Decapitated. Their stand in guy (I'm sorry I forgot his name) is an absolutely shit hot drummer who nailed every single part. The main set ended with Quantum Apocalypse, which had the closest wall of death I've ever seen. Bloodshot Dawn always deliver in their own untouchable style. At their best they are untouchable and they were very close here despite not having played since March, they were showing no signs of rust at all. A very entertaining Thursday night across the bridge with some of our new friends met during M2TM. We will be over the bridge again sometime soon so I'm sure more nights of killer heavy metal await. I urge you to catch Bloodshot Dawn when they hit Cardiff later this year you won't regret it.

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