Promoter: The Railway + Aeon Promotions
Date: Wednesday 10th October 2012
Venue: The Railway, Winchester
Bands: The Red and The Black, Toledo Steel, Fall of Idols, Laid Wasted, (Heaven Shall Fall)
I’d like to start this review with an apology, an apology to the guys of opening support Heaven Shall Fall as they will unfortunately not be appearing in this post. Yet again that frustratingly constant concern of ‘the rest of my life’ has interferred with my ability to support my local metal scene. Due to the twin commitments of needing to work to earn so I can eat and needing to eat so I can live I was quite late to this gig and managed to miss their set in its entirety. Life sucks like that sometimes, so if you’re looking here specifically for info about Heaven Shall Fall stop reading now. Apologies, but I can say if they were anywhere near as good as the rest of the night then the people who did see them were damn lucky.
Starting off (for me) the night were refreshingly grimey local boys Laid Wasted. In a lot of instances grimey is an insult, either insulting appearance or drawing comparisons to the ‘urban grime’ music scene which most metalheads would rather have cat AIDS than listen to. This is not one of those times. The grime in question this time round comes in stark contrast to a lot of the hyper polished bands I’ve seen recently, notable Firewind in the last review. After seeing so many bands of this style, Laid Wasted’s sound was rough around the edges and untempered by pretention or glamour. Like watching four guys rock out in a garage, the sound was thick with potential and the atmosphere was one of experimentation and fun. Despite delivering a set of riffs and licks any band would be proud of it was more in the construction where this band found their strength, judderingly chaotically across a range of tempos and keys. I’m not going to lie, it was tough working out how the fuck to mosh to this but, let’s face it, you could say the same about Meshuggah and they’re doing pretty well for themselves.
So many shifts in a song demand a tight rhythm line and, even without the help of a bassist, drummer Clive Lusmore was more than capable of taming the storm. With these solid foundations guitarists Joe Long and Joe Tanner were absolute whirlwinds of power on their axes whilst the vocal delivery of Sean Walsh was in equal parts captivating and jolting; utilising the tried and tested screams of the death metal ouevre whilst throwing in both soft and powerful clean sections like a ruffled SOAD. Truly epic on all counts, despite being their first performance in over a year Laid Wasted have exploded back onto the scene with a mighty return and the only way is up.
Topping something like that would always be hard so Fall of Idols had a huge challenge at their door straight from the start. From that starting point I wasn’t exactly sure they would be able to pull this off. Delivering a few straightforward hardcore tunes to fire up the gig; through their first three or four songs Fall of Idols felt a little formulaic in their approach with a relentless screamed verse playing straight into a more powerful melodic chorus…and repeat.
Fortunately, as the room began to fill up, extra little flares began appearing in the set. The songs got heavier, the solos more intricate and, particularly, the backing vocals provided by guitarist Daniel Cobley provided a broader range to the show and complimented David James’ voice perfectly. With each progressive song the band started to remind me more and more of the recently split up Romeo Must Die, who graced the Railway’s stage with similiarly sweeping yet aggressive stylings in my Volume One review, seemingly filling that powerhouse void left by Adam Frakes-Sime and co. As the set began to close the intensity rose higher and higher with David and guitarist Ant Jones coming offstage to join the crowd headbanging like fuck at the front. Despite a shaky start these guys certainly proved their metal credentials.
With a powerfully dirty and grim death/thrash assault to start the evening it seemed a little pick me up would be in order – a pick me up welcomely bestowed by NWOBHM fuelled Southampton rockers Toledo Steel. The main thing I took from their ferociously infectious set was that, in between the epic and untempered wall of headbangers lining the stage, I honestly could not wipe the smile from my face. Taking the most brilliantly catchy elements of the 80s metal scene alongside the bravado of stadium rockers, each and every song on the band’s setlist was an out-and-out hit. Even the look of the band, from singer Rich Rutter’s badass red leather jacket to the ferocity with which Matt Dobson pounded his drumkit, screamed the very best of the decade where metal could do no wrong. These guys weren’t re-inventing the brand by any stretch of the imagination, but their single guitar and bass approach created a stripped down sound where nothing was lost under a potentially suffocating rhythm line (a trap I’ve seen bands fall into before). Were Toledo Steel anything ground breaking? No. Were they something really fucking special? Fucking yes.
So first act gritty, second act surprising, third act epic. It was shaping up into one hell of an evening and with local rockers donning Luchadore style masks ready for headliners The Red and The Black, the anticipation was reaching high. Sure enough it was only moments before the South London hardcore headliners stormed the stage and began their relentless riffage to the meagre crowd. Song 1 went off without a hitch, along with song 2…song 3…and…okay, I’ll admit I was starting to glaze over a bit by this point.
It’s not that TRATB were a bad band by any means. The relentless power they played with was pretty fucking intense and vocalist Dan Knox’s delivery came with all the strength and grit upon which come of the best punk is built. My problem was that, beyond this, there was little, if anything, extra to latch on to. The UK hardcore scene is in complete overdrive at the moment. With the likes of Feed The Rhino electrifying audiences with their live sets and Between The Buried and Me releasing mind bending concept albums genericness is amongst the most cardinal of sins. The last two or three songs from TRATB were a saving grace with the likes of the infectious ‘Spit You Out’ redeeming some of the earlier blandness but it may have been too little too late for me.
So that was my night back at The Railway in the wake of Mosh!. Sure it didn’t end brilliantly but I did discover three awesome bands in the process and, with plenty more gigs lined up at The Railway soon, I’m sure to discover many many more.
Laid Wasted: 8/10
Fall of Idols: 7/10
Toledo Steel: 8/10
The Red and The Black: 4/10