Bloodshot Dawn are a band I’ve been following since the release of their excellent self-titled debut, which had the guitar pyrotechnics of Gothenburg’s finest without sacrificing any of death metal’s weight. When I found out that their UK tour in support of second album Demons included a free(!) gig in a Camden pub I had to go. With apologies for my attempts at phone photography, here’s what happened.
Anoxide – [2.5/5]
First up were young death metallers Anoxide who played with impressive energy, even stepping off stage to physically encourage the first pit of the night. Despite the technical proficiency they displayed their material was an unchallenging and surprisingly bland wash of noise. There’s a place for reasonably simple meat and potatoes metal on the live circuit, but if Anoxide want to play longer sets they’ll have to offer a lot more than tonight’s silverside and oven chips.
Anoxide’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Anoxideofficial
Wretched Soul – [4/5]
Sounding like Amon Amarth and Grand Magus started making remarkably heavy power metal together, Wretched Soul were the best surprise of the evening. Since they only have one guitarist I was expecting quite a simple and lean sound, but Steve Clifford managed to produce something that was as thick and luxurious as his intimidatingly glorious beard.
Chris Simmons’ excellent and diverse vocals were another high point of the night, even though his cleans often suffered from being drowned out by the rest of the band. Descending from the stage with a brotherly address to the crowd and a promise that the new material they performed tonight would be available soon, Wretched Soul left a much deeper impact on me than most support bands.
Wretched Soul’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.co.uk/wretchedsouluk
Kremated – [4/5]
Demonstrating the measured calm that can only come from a frontman whose first words to the audience were “I’ve had enough!” Kremated unleashed a set of thrash-punk with Strapping Young Lad’s pyroclastic torrent of screamed anger. Rage is such a common theme of metal that it’s easy to become jaded, but vocalist Pete Dee is one of the few who can still seem genuinely aggressive behind a microphone despite his wry and affable stage banter. Equipped with fast riffs that were as sharp as their vitriolic lyrics, this was both a worthy farewell to departing drummer Jimmy Martin and a bright portent for Kremated’s future.
Kremated’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kremated
Seprevation – [3.5/5]
Playing thrash tinted with old school death metal, Seprevation were here to party like it was 1989. Though their first few songs were solid but unspectacular, a brilliant cover of ‘The Trooper’ brought the room together. Vocalist Lluc Tupman might not have the pipes of Bruce Dickinson but both he and the rest of the band showed the same kind of passion for performance that makes Iron Maiden so compelling. Channeling this energy into the latter half of their set resulted in a much more exciting display; a second wind that ended all too soon to make way for the final, highly anticipated act.
Seprevation’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Seprevation
Bloodshot Dawn – [4.5/5]
Two things have changed since I last saw Bloodshot Dawn. First, they have started headlining – proving that they can attract crowds who are there to see them rather than the Scandinavian veterans that they have been touring with recently. Second, with the release of Demons they can call upon material which is every bit as essential as melodeath classics like Clayman and Slaughter of the Soul. Impressive as they have been before, their previous performances cannot compare with how they played here.
Performing the pick of Demons and Bloodshot Dawn resulted in one of the strongest setlists I’ve seen in a long time, a stunning achievement for a band with only two albums under its belt. Though Josh McMorran is the most distinctive voice of the band he now shares lead vocal duties almost equally with fellow guitarist Benjamin Ellis. There isn’t the same harsh/clean dichotomy you see in most bands with multiple vocalists, but they get a lot of mileage out of complementing each others’ voices in a relatively uncommon way.
You’ve probably noticed from my photos that there was no light show, even the headliners had to accept being bathed in anaglyphic blue and red for their entire set. This ended up working in Bloodshot Dawn’s favour as their exceptional instrumental skill was even clearer to see than usual. There is little sense of showing off to their performance, just the enthusiastic and precise execution of something very special indeed. Combined with the confidence and accomplished stagecraft of bands with far more experience, they were eye catching enough by themselves.
I had to leave as a noisily requested encore began for fear of missing my train home, but I was troubled to leave with ‘Godless’ and a rapidly forming wall of death behind me. Though the extreme nature of their material has limited their following so far, if Bloodshot Dawn keep up this kind of performance it won’t be long before they overcome this and start playing much bigger venues.
Bloodshot Dawn’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BloodshotDawn