(review by mwj)

A night put on by Condate Records, presumably some kind of Roman road connection bringing them from Northwich to Deva. My route here was aided by Dave Whales in his tour tank along the A55 and though I think we arrived to miss the first band there was still plenty of people here early on. 

The first ones we did catch were somewhat striking in an awkward, jarring sense. Brothers Bear Arms were defined by the jangly post-punk guitar and the skinny vocalists somewhat raw delivery, seriously lacking some bass in the mix though. I thought there was a touch of the Joy Division about them, maybe a bit more aggressive but I suspect early days for them in terms of live performance.

Horrorstruck had a more conventional hardcore punk approach and was pretty decent. They have some connection to the more renowned Six Ft. Ditch but seem to be doing OK themselves too with some good supports in the North West The sound was a bit muddy but heavy enough, especially when based upon just one guitar. Good vocal roar too and went down well with their home town fans.

Face of Christ I seemed to recall seeing here a few years back, making the massive journey from their home in Vicar’s Cross. They’ve been going since 2002 so I think that has stood them in good stead in becoming an effective live unit. A bit of an untoward performance tonight as drummer Tinman was incapacitated in plaster and reduced to wandering backing vocals. OK though as the old drummer had been drafted in and the diverse and aggressive hardcore came across really well through a long set, especially with the hilarious banter and lyrical content from the frontman. Bought their interestingly brown-envelope-packaged “Year of the Prick” cd, on the organisers’ label.

Again they had good support initially but strangely numbers had started to peter out during their set, last buses or trains factor maybe, and Bastions were left with a more intimate setting for their hardcore finale. As most in the area will know already they are a simultaneously ferocious and emotional onslaught of blood and thunder, especially with Jamie taking the opportunity to sing off the mike. They air some of the gems of their recent Island Living single, closing with the epic Cult of Luna-esque “The Great Unwashed”, leaving us cleansed by the fire of their fury.

So I was forced to get more dirrrty with a trip to Rosie’s for champagne and shots before kicking some lady in the bush in Connah’s Quay, just the kind of warm-up for Hammerfest that was required!