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Sunday 3 September 2023

A View From The Back Of The Room: Johnny Mental 20th Anniversary (Live Review By Matt Bladen)

Johnny Mental, The Death Of Money, Inerrant & Happy New Year, Fuel Rock Club, 26.08.23

There are bands that mean a lot to a scene, you can usually tell by how many people show up long after the band announce their departure. Johnny Mental are one such band, formed by now veteran members of the South Wales hardcore/stoner/doom/noise/etc scene they left a legacy that can be traced to some of my favourite bands of today. Back then you don't realise the significance, I've seen them before their hardcore/thrash sound vicious and vibrant but it's only once they are gone that you realise how much they mean.

So after a stupid idea from drummer Carl Richards (Lacertillia/ex Zinc Bukowski) and guitarist Gareth Rowley (Inerrant) a Saturday in August at Fuel Rock Club was the setting for a 20th Anniversary show and in what was an extremely heartening display it was sold the hell out with the best and brightest Greebos in South Wales descended on the capital for a celebration of music. The night was opened by Happy New Year (7) whose merch bears the legend "£5 ONO or fuck off", comprised of two thirds of Made Of Teeth, it's a bass and drums driven hardcore band, reverbed/echoed to hell to make a nasty noise getting the crowd going for what was to come.

The sweat creeping in, the walls melting and the beer flowing, next up was Inerrant (8). A band formed in lockdown by ex members of Johnny Mental, Hogslayer and others, they are style spanning, slab of pure aggression two vocalists duelling with each other and the crowd, antagonising, pushing and getting in the face of anyone and everyone, as they roared through tracks from the politically charged most recent album Life Or Deaf.

The instrumental part of the band peeled off hardcore/punk/metal riffs that tore down the house. The assembled masses terrified and enthralled by the screaming Lucha Libre on the stage and the pit starting wildman who is his partner in anger. If waited a while to see Inerrant on stage but they were just as violent as I'd expected.

Following this was the post metal weirdness of The Death Of Money (7) playing their first show since the day before the 2020 lockdown, they are one of South Wales longest established bands and reminded Fuel why that is so. Long repeating riffs that are inter-sliced with blasts of hardcore, bordering on sludge. A little slower, but a lot louder The Death Of Money showed no signs of rust after such a long layoff.

Speaking of long layoffs this happened to be the headliners first show since 2011. But you wouldn't have known as they arrived to a heroes welcome, the bodies older but the passion still as youthful as it ever was. Playing a set featuring all the songs you'd want, from their debut, their EP and their album. Beddau's loudest hardcore/thrash/grunge band, unleashed their fury in front of friends and family winding back the clock to the early 2000's to get Fuel pitting.

Alcohol induced, and buyoed by the thumping dance music that was coming out of Revolution across the road. Thankfully by the time Johnny Mental (8) had taken to the stage, the room was packed, the crowd inebriated and the band played like the last 12 years didn't matter, switching from thrashfests to grooves with ease and slickness despite the gap between performances. With the crowd shouting back every word this was a Saturday night part that few nights have compared too. A sold out show in a packed bar, it was a loud way to turn back the clock.

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