Dear Shepherd’s Bush Empire, you owe Cavorts [3/5] one audience! Thanks to the venue’s baffling multi-pronged queuing strategy (a harrowing Kafkaesque experience, judging by some of the angry comments heard at the bar), the Barnsley boys take to the stage to an almost empty room. This is a pity because, while they may not be the most original sound in town, the band’s blend of Motorhead-meets-Cancer Bats punk-n-roll works pretty well in a live setting. It’s nice to see members of some of the other bands checking them out from the audience, and they and the rest of the crowd are rewarded with an energetic, swaggering performance that wins over a fair few new friends. Set highlight ‘Save Some Things’ gets the first big clap along of the night, and helps ease the tensions of those who have made it inside.
The Defiled [3/5] fare better, crowd-wise, when they pitch up looking like the last straggling survivors of a particularly decadent apocalypse. Opening suitably with ‘Call to Arms’, the band ply a potent mix of groove-filled metal and electronica, punctuated with a few massive choruses that suggest they are destined for bigger things. In fact, that sense of destiny may be part of the problem with a set that doesn’t quite take off as it might. Much has been written in recent times about The Defiled as saviours of British metal, partly on the back of ferocious live shows, but tonight an early and restrictively short stage time seems to frustrate the band. While there’s still plenty of flair, there’s a feeling of wanting more, like a caged lion yearning for an open plain. There’s no doubting the quality of songs like ‘Black Death’ and ‘The Resurrectionists’ however, and when the band break out a brand new one the future does indeed look good.
Scotland’s premiere pirate metallers Alestorm [4/5] are in their element from the off, despite opening with one of their slightly weaker numbers, ‘The Sunk’n Norwegian’. Vocalist and keyboard player Christopher Bowes is in cracking form, and might be in with a shot at the ‘song intro of the year’ title, trailing ‘Shipwrecked’ with “this is a song about Tom Hanks falling out of a plane and fucking a volley ball!” Alestorm may not have the most diverse body of work in existence, but in a live setting like tonight there are few places you’d rather be. The mob yells back every word, people clink imaginary tankards, we sing about Buckfast, guitarist Daniel Evans rocks out like it’s the last party on earth, and by the time the crowd surfers emerge for ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’, the pirates have won the day.
That’s not to take anything away from power metal overlords DragonForce [4/5] mind you, who put in another high quality performance. As anyone who saw them opening for Iron Maiden last year will attest, new singer Marc Hudson slotted in right away, and on the evidence of tonight’s performance has kept the momentum admirably. This is no mean feat given that visually and sonically, it’s the Sam and Herman show (guitarists Sam Totman and Herman Li) that lies at the heart of DragonForce, drawing you in like a black hole. The likes of ‘Fury of the Storm’ and relative newie ‘Cry Thunder’ have the crowd in full voice again, and Li’s spectacular shredding through ‘Operation Ground and Pound’ is jaw-dropping.
Nice one, British metal!
DragonForce’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dragonforce
Alestorm’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/alestormband
The Defiled’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thedefiled
Cavort’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cavortsmakenoise