On tonight’s menu is thrash cooked 3 ways, and served with a distinct drenching of beer. Well, that’s the impression I got when I saw the line up; having three bands that play fast with a twist away from each other seemed to cater for most of the audience, despite the cries of some on the night to “play some metal”. There is no pleasing some.
Anyway, the early start to this gig meant that most Londoners were still grappling with leaving work and trying to make it through the snow by the time Ramming Speed (http://www.myspace.com/officialrammingspeed) came on. Nearing the end of this leg of the tour has meant two things for the band; one was that they were running out of clothes, unless frontman Peter Gallagher does actually perform in his boxer shorts; the other was that they were running out of money and were looking for a place to crash for the night.
Over the past couple of weeks I had been spoilt rotten by the orchestrated sounds of Shrinebuilder and Neurosis, who had bought over an exceptionally enthusiastic soundman to fine tune the live sound to perfection. But tonight, although not entirely bad, it was a different experience. Ramming Speed’s exuberant grinding thrash sounded flat and thin, not the attacking and beefy sound that I was expecting. Maybe it was because it wasn’t wholly broadcast over the PA system and much of the volume was left in reserve for the other bands. The band seemed to please at least a few, but they certainly weren’t given any favours by the engineers on the night.
Oakland’s Saviours (http://www.myspace.com/saviours666) came on soon after I had overheard members of Ramming Speed trade stories around the merch stand concerning drum sticks, fans, and arses. I won’t go into any more detail but it was pretty weird to say the least. They play a mix of thrash and stoner riffs with a sort of 70s Motorhead twist to it. The sound was thick and heavy due to twin riffing of each guitarist. The band ploughed their way through the set, and the first circle pits emerged during ‘Acid Hand’ and ‘Slave To The Hex’. Frontman Austin Barber was loving the attention the fans were giving his band, and showboated his was through ‘Burnin’ Cross’ and ‘Cavern Of Mind’ with energy. They even managed to slip in new track ‘Dixie Dieway’ which according to Barber will “haunt [you] next year.” (You can download that track for free on this Adult Swim compilation here) Saviours were indeed a good choice to warm the crowd up for the headliners. Ending their set in a similar fashion to Ramming Speed‘s pleas for a place to crash, Saviours urged people to buy some merch so they “won’t get beaten up by the Czechoslovakians [they] owe money to.” It isn’t only fans feeling the economic pinch at the moment, but the bands themselves.
I haven’t seen a crowd this pumped before a band comes on stage. Repeated shouting of lyrics (“Municipal Waste is gonna fuck you up”), plenty of spilt pints, and one crowd-surfer – and all this happened during the interim, while the in-house music was playing and the stage was being set up. Municipal Waste (http://www.myspace.com/municipalwaste) finally take the stage to their sports-theme intro, and singer Tony Foresta bounces on stage dressed as a Christmas tree while wishing us all a “Merry Fuckin’ Christmas”. The crossover thrash band are known for being one of the party bands, and in a way their performance reminds me of punks The Vandals (before they supported the “War on Terror”) and Guttermouth, but obviously in a more metal way – where humour is scarce to say the least. It’s that fun-filled atmosphere that seems to get the most out of those in front of them. There are few moments between songs that allow the crowd to catch their in breath. I mean, it’s like a work out in there, with Foresta directing the flow of human traffic around the venue amongst the frantic playing of ‘Beer Pressure’, ‘Headbanger Face Rip’, ‘Terror Shark’, and ‘Mind Eraser’. The sound is crisp, biting, and shredding, and the band could not be any better than this. Pass the beer bong.