(review by mwj / pix by neil crud / vid by paul bryce)

I really should go out in Bangor more often, treated to homemade curries in advance, chauffered to venues, thoroughly entertained, in good company, then taxied back, with more curry and a bed for the night! The opportunity is definitely there as there is a steady supply of gigs at The Skerries for a while now care of North Wales Metal Promotions. It may be pretty small but that keeps it cosy and the sounds loud, and tonight there is a busier turnout than I’ve seen previously there too.

My first opportunity to see Braxton Hicks who have had a veritable frenzy of releases and gigs since their relatively recent formation. Naturally, Mr Crud’s extensive contacts have assisted this and it’s great to see the release of stored energy in the oldtimer after his live hiatus of recent years. Maybe a bit too much in these cramped conditions as he snaps his bass lead in the first song. No matter, as the constant banter and uptempo beat goes on! They have a really interesting angle to punk, almost a semiacoustic vibe and Joe’s vocals quite clear though relentless. Good hooks and the overall jangly quirkiness remind me favourably of the Dead Kennedys, an excellent opener even if they claimed to not be at their best.

Next, Atlas Will Atone in their home town. Initially from a distance (the other side of the bar) I am a bit non-plussed by what strikes me as an overly screamo-emo approach. They’re pretty young, so could just be my generation gap filter, but then once they get into their stride with some of the latter numbers there’s a much more pleasing consistent heaviness, a modern metal approach with hints of epic, soaring structures forming. They finish on a high with a System of a Down cover which is the closest I’ll come to seeing them live at the moment

Finally, Rhyl’s Psycodeth who had already impressed me with their support slot to Evil Scarecrow here before Xmas. Again, for a young band they have casual confidence aplenty in what they do. Excellent guitar work, all underpinned by some really nice and tight drumming with blasting double bass. Strong vocals too, and the share between the standard and the screamed between the rhythm guitarist and bass bring a real focus to their onslaught. Latter day Metallica might come to mind (influenced by the front-guys Hetfield perm) but they’ve got a much more rounded and in some ways more accessible sound. Good stuff all round, linked up by Aardvarks metal tunes in the middle and to see us off into the night