Review by Paul Castles, photos by Rich Thompson
An opportunity to check out a different venue for the first time with an accomplished extreme metal line-up was sufficiently enticing enough to encourage plenty of punters to head into South Birmingham on a balmy Sunday evening.
The sun may have been shining outside the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath, but the atmosphere within the rafters of its lofty venue was darker than a piece of liquorice. Especially when rising young black metal miscreants Conjurer opened up proceedings. This band are going from strength to strength at a rate of knots that would impress an Olympic oarsman. The young singer Dan is a beast, feet firmly planted to the stage as he roars his way through a ferocious set of songs. With Brady supporting him with the piercing cries that are sharp enough to puncture the tyres of a monster truck, the overall effect is not dissimilar from finding yourself trapped in a washing machine at maximum speed.
Conjurer’s appealing box of black magic tricks has quickly gained them a loyal, Midlands following. This is now developing into a wider army of fans as their gigs grow ever more ambitious. Already a number of significant London shows have been successfully conquered and they’ll be performing at Mammothfest in Brighton in October.
A step or two ahead of Conjurer are local hardcore headcases Burden Of The Noose. This gig caught them on a high, still buzzing like a hornet from their recent inspiring performance at Bloodstock. Burden of the Noose may have started out a bit like Raging Speedhorn with a double vocal barrage, but for the past year or so they’ve been operating with just as much success with the singing now left entirely to Andy. And what a good job this bearded dynamo does. Jumpier than a box of crickets, the singer careers from one side of the stage to the other, barking out such Burden classics as opening number ‘Circle Of Shit’, ‘Family Affair’ and ‘Deaf And Insane’.
It’s very difficult to be quite so enthusiastic about third act on the bill, the one-man laptop fiend known as Gore Tech. The Mancunian tech tornado attacked his laptop with unbridled enthusiasm, slamming and poking and hitting, as the room filled with a relentless aural beat that had some banging their heads, but quite a few others scratching theirs. No singing, no conventional instruments just Gore Tech plying us with sonic wave charges from his trusty Macbook. For me the techno techno techno soon became dull and repetitive although I guess that was the point.
A few punters were into it and I briefly feared someone may pull a glow stick out of their pocket and start waving it around their head. All very clever, and all that, but compared to the passion and poison of the earlier two acts I would have been happy had Gore Tech pulled the plug after 10 minutes rather than torturing us for half-an-hour.
It’s only fair to point out that he was there at the bequest of the headliners, with whom had had conglomerated on their most recent album. That album was the sensationally destructive Desideratum and the headliners were of course extreme metal monoliths Anaal Nathrakh.
When formed by Mick Kenney and Dave 20 years ago Nathrakh had no intention of becoming live performers. Praise be that they eventually gave up on that idea, as live Nathrakh offer a glimpse into an apocalyptic planet that most people would never hope to see. They had flown in from Austria earlier in the day so a little tiredness was inevitable from the band although one they were assembled on stage they immediately clicked into their uncompromising best. This was their only Brummie date of the year and indeed UK shows in general have been thin on the ground since their devastating Damnation display in Leeds last November.
Their 2012 album Desideratum was a masterpiece and having opened up with the pummelling intro of ‘Acheronta Movebimus’ they plunged into ‘Unleash’ in which Dave’s devastating vocal range alternates between barbaric screeches and passionate harmonies.
Nathrakh’s inspiration is drawn from the bleakest and lowest points of humanity, the dregs and the degradation. It’s not love of man and mankind that feeds their furious onslaught but the very opposite. Man’s cruelty to his fellow man. This is the sick sordid world which they embrace so successfully through their hate-filled misanthropic mayhem. Also from Desideratum was the uplifting ‘Idol’ with Dave crying above the tortured tirade ‘What can it be, is it a saviour?’
Nathrakh have been showing their scorn and contempt for humanity for 16 years or soy and there’s no shortage of older material to dip into. At the ‘Hare & Hounds it was no surprise to hear the unforgiving ’Between Shit And Piss We Are Born’ along with ‘Of Fire, And Fucking Pigs’ from the 2013 Vanitas album.
With the Hare and Hounds being guitarist Mick Kenny’s last show with the band this summer before jetting back to his California home, Dave was more determined than ever to make it one to remember. In that he was successful. While most of the good people of Kings Heath were tucked up safely in their beds little did they realise that just around the corner Anaal Nathrakh were painting a brutal landscape so bleak and desolate that they would have thought they were having their worst ever nightmare had the sound drifted through their windows.