Review and photos by Tony Gaskin
What? March already? That can mean only one thing, Beholder kick off their UK Black Flag Tour here in the home of Heavy Metal and what a corker it was looking to be on paper, with two local and very popular metal acts supporting.
Up first then were Adust, who to be fair have not built on the promise of the last release from them, due in the main to line-up changes, but things look well and truly back on track now and they gave us a solid set that could only prove to any remaining doubters that they are fit and healthy again and ready to bludgeon their way back to the pinnacle of Midlands Metal during 2012. Dave Cox has finally got himself comfortable with the combined role of lead vocalist/guitarist and the change is noticeable, there’s more fluidity in his switch between clean and growly vocals and this also shows in a more relaxed guitar style. This has in turn allowed the rest of the band to express themselves better and the overall effect is a band that is back on top form.
Following on from that were seasoned metal stalwarts Under Blackened Skies who keep the temperature high and the pace fast.
Front man Manu immediately takes control of the crowd and for the rest of their set acted as conductor/choreographer for a Black Metal opus of Wagnerian proportions. His crazed stares and banshee howls curdled the blood, with the rest of the band providing the magnificent orchestration to this grand piece of theatrical extreme metal. It’s not hard to see why they went down a storm at Bloodstock, not many bands can pull off this genre with such aplomb, but also with the occasional wink and tongue in cheek. I accept Black/Death Metal is too extreme for a lot of fans but you have to appreciate the technical difficulty to pull it off well, and UBS certainly know how to do just that.
Bloodstock, Metal 2 The Masses, Beholder! Simon Hall doesn’t do things by half and having to juggle those three baby’s around it’s a good job he’s got broad shoulders!
Tonight though is all about his band and if you asked him to be brutally honest it’s probably the one thing he would keep if asked to give two up. Well unless you’re incredibly stupid of course, but back to tonight and Beholder were kicking off their UK tour to promote their upcoming album Black Flag here at The Roadhouse in Birmingham where a decent sized crowd had thoroughly been entertained by the opening two acts, but Hall & Co took it up a notch and their modern take on classic British Heavy Metal cuts through any pretensions or pomposity that is all to prevalent in the more radio/magazine friendly world of commercial metal.
This is straight up and in your face, songs like “Snake Eyes” “Heretic” and “The Awakening” get the blood boiling, only to have it chilled again by more powerfully emotive songs like the Sophie anthem, “Never Take Us Down”.
An exceptional night of metal then by three very different bands, but all immense in their own way, I wish I could follow this tour, looking at the support bands Simon has drafted in for the other dates then each one could be has good has tonight’s was.
And you can see the rest of Tony’s photos here: