(review n pix by MWJ)

“Can i just leave a deposit?”

Dragging ourselves from the depths with a morning constitutional under the Severn Bridge before long we were heading up to the “Home of Metal” (.com). Ensconced in a campsite on the south side of town, then got a bus direct to the centre. There our best laid plans were coming apart a bit as despite almost getting a lock-in at WHSmith’s whilst consulting an A-Z to find where we were supposed to go we still had to ask all and sundry for clues as we worryingly (for us country folk) strayed into the signposted Gun Quarter. Also tried to coach Elliot in my patented technique for improving eyesight while we were looking for street signs but there just wasn’t enough visual stimulus on the chilly evening streets. Passed Scruffy Murphy’s where co-incidentally Disorder were playing tonight but we were fixed on our priorities.

The venue was just outside the inner ring road on the north side. Had turned up early after all, saw vocalist Barney going in, and were contemplating a return to city centre pubs to prevent sobering up when a friendly local pointed out that they had opened up the adjacent “The Madhouse Bar” especially so early arrivals didn’t have to wait in the cold. This was just the kind of thoughtful “by fans, for fans” attitude that apparently had led to them investing in setting up the venue, the main part only being open since last year. It was also very kind of them to lay on a barmaid who brought our focus back sharply.

Soon enough we were in The Asylum, basically a big open industrial unit converted to the job of live music. I think they said the capacity was something like 600 and though it was busy don’t think it was sold out. Still, the atmosphere is good, folks have apparently been drawn over from as far as Europe for this launch gig for their new “Time Waits For No Slave” album.

Two local support bands are both recent signings to local label FETO (set up by Shane from Napalm and Mick Kenny from Anaal Nakrath) so what better than a local showcase for their talents. Nekkrosis certainly seemed to be loving the big occasion and the response they get to their brutal death metal. Their precise mix of fast grind with crushing breakdowns reminded of some of the Manchester bands in the same scene, the next generation of Carcass and Suffocation, and the bassist’s gurns were the most hilarious seen this side of Narcosis.

Next Theoktony, who I heard had already suffered some line-up disruption before tonight turned into a farewell performance for their bassist – heading on to “bigger and better” allegedly. This didn’t detract from their show, again hyper fast death/grind, but really seeming to extending the length of their songs to get more in structure, with somewhat more of a flow than their predecessors. This kept the interest up and I think both of these demonstrated their worthiness to get picked up by the label and brought to wider attention

So it had only been a couple of months since renewing acquaintance with tonights headliners at the Damnation fest but while there we had two songs aired off the new album tonight it was going to get played in full, though with a scattergun of back catalogue classics interspersed. And though things are blurry in a pit of beer and mosh it’s questionable whether virtually every one of the new tracks are future staples in making, to compare with the likes of “From Enslavement to Obliteration”, “Suffer the Children” and “Mass Appeal Madness”.

Their consistency is fantastic, rip-roaring riffing, machine intense drums, and furious grunt and scream. All offset by the engaging banter, the serious conviction to their searing messages they try and get across, and the sense of good friendly violent fun palpable in the room. The initially overenthusiastic stage security are reined in with “a quiet word” from Barney, and with a couple of leg ups from Ell I’m floating off on dizzy flashbacks to the joys of GrindCrusher back in the day, including landing on me head. Repeatedly. There’s the briefest of breaks before an all-satisfying encore of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”, the 20+ year old “Scum” (dedicated to original member Nik Bullen who they’d tried to blag to get up and sing a couple with them – if only!), “The Kill” and the shortest and sweetest “You Suffer”. I did, and I knew why.

There was an after gig party advertised, most left though but we weren’t in a rush and had the opportunity to chat with Danny and Shane as well as others left milling around beaming over the evening’s entertainment. Picked up limited edition copy of album on vinyl with cd of same plus bonus tracks included within, bargain, especially as they rounded down through lack of change. Then out to find taxis were also helpfully laid on to enable us to get back to the camp site. And though signs may have been to the contrary we were chuffed but weakened. Both at the same time. And with the vague recollection of being pinged.

(click for more pix)