Extreme Noise Terror, Black Skies Burn, Human Cull, Atomck @ Le Pub, Newport – 31/7/15

Extreme Noise Terror, Black Skies Burn, Gets Worse, Fetus Christ @ Asylum 2, Birmingham – 1/8/15

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As me and Ell were reminiscing, we’ve always been about the road-trips for a bit of crust punk mayhem so what better way to spend a sultry summer weekend than in some seedy sweaty venues around the country. To be fair I was cajoled into it last minute but resistance is futile so after disposing of his mum and gaining a Ste in Stroud we paid into sunny South Wales and found Le Pub.

Maybe not as exotic as it sounds but straight off on this first visit I was impressed with the set up and atmosphere, it seemed to have a good independent vibe maybe taking up some of the slack since the loss of TJ’s, even if the stairways around the venue seemed to have been designed by Escher.
The action is go with Atomck, who may be from Swansea with some other ingredients but it was the first time I’d seen them despite being familiar with their name for some time from compilations etc. Three piece no bass grindcore, full of energy with a wandering vocalist ranging between shrieks and growls. Occasional, brief doomier breaks interspersing the blistering speed, driven along by a hard hitting machine of a drummer.

Another bonus for me personally next with Human Cull up from Exeter. My last attempt to see them had ended in my temporary death by rum while in the Czech Republic so was chuffed to catch them here while still able to see/hear. And great stuff, as expected given I’m often listening to their recent “Stillborn Nation” album, a harsh and punchy mix of distorted heavy grind with more punk aggression.

Black Skies Burn I only recall when they are onstage and I recognise guitarist Chris of great gurns, that I had seen them before at a Yorkshire Riffer all-dayer up in Leeds. Here I found it an even better performance of really tight and intense metal that mixed a whole lot of different styles, all heavy, into their short blasts of songs, some 15 in their half hour or so. Great amusement from the titles and banter too, fair play to them for landing the main support for the three gigs this weekend.

So to the headliner and as ever the uncertainty over what version of the band we are going to experience. ENT is Dean and Dean is ENT, as the legendary growler is the only original member, backed with the consummate professionals Desecration on instruments and with yet another new second vocalist, about the 4th since the loss of his old partner in crime Phil. Now it’s Ben, ex of The Rotted, and he’s got enough experience and balls to carry this off no worries, it’s an onslaught of howling, feral, chaotic hardcore that they are legendary for.
Our main man may be a bit confused as to where he is but Ben carries a lot of the banter, and they are certainly grateful for the response they receive. Personally I find a couple of the old tracks butchered into indecipherability but as they live around the country and this first gig is their first practice maybe that can be excused, when it does click together it’s devastating and enjoyable. We get a Raw Noise cover thrown in and are also treated to a new song from a forthcoming album, due to explode on November the 5th, easy to remember. They finish again with a cover of “Borstal Breakout” as they have been in recent years but this remains a weaker song to me. Still, great fun all round, let’s do this again sometime.

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How about tomorrow? After a day of refreshments in Stroud we are transported up to Brum and more industrial grimness that the Asylum is a little oasis in /fits right into. The smaller upstairs part tonight, the only time I’d been here before was a few tears back on another roadtrip (via ENT in Bristol) for a Napalm Death album launch in the main room, strange how life repeats itself. Opener tonight is Fetus Christ over from Hereford, who had been recommended to me last night but I find the overall volume quite lacking which robs a bit of their thunder from their mix of power violence and doom laden grind, shame.

I worry the same for Leeds’ Gets Worse next, but things pick up well and they give one of their best sets I’ve seen so far, everything seems to hit the spot as they batter through their stop-start fast-slow anthems of hardcore fury, great stuff.

Black Skies Burn prove consistently good, the jokes remain funny and tunes battering. And the final battering is served up in the pit for the headliners, with probably a better performance (despite the drunken Ben that I might have contributed too) showing that last nights practice paid off! We even persuade them to do an encore and get another new song, these are sounding really solid and bodes well for the (semi-!) focussed group in the future.  They do exactly what it says on the tin.

We return via Cider Houses on the Sunday, with suntans and scars, these summer holidays are great!

pictures by Emma Stuart and Elliot Capper