Bonecrusher Fest – Job For A Cowboy + War From a Harlots Mouth + Beneath the Massacre + more… @ Rescue Rooms, Nottingham – Sunday 3rd March 2013

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Review by Dan Perks

Bonecrusher Fest has long been one of the heaviest tours to hit UK shores.  Past headliners have included The Black Dahlia Murder, Dying Fetus and Carnifex. This year’s line up promised to be one of the heaviest yet.

But before I get to the music, I was posed a thought upon entering the Rescue Rooms this afternoon. Sunday gigs, notably those with early opening times put us all in a quandary. Do we decide to go for that extra yorkie pud with our roast and risk being too bloated for moshing? Or do we sacrifice the tasty treat of a Sunday dinner in favour of beer and bouncing round like lunatics?

Judging by the exceedingly poor turnout at tonight’s show I’d say the roast dinners won, an initial rough count places no more than 25 die hard fans in the Rescue Rooms when Make Them Suffer tear onto the stage. Careless of the near empty venue, Make Them Suffer look they are having the time of their lives. The deathcore base of their sound is undeniably heavy. Orchestral nuances only accentuate the melodies that layer the crushing sub drops and raw guttural vocals. Guitarist Nick McLernon is a one man hurricane on stage, spinning, stomping and jumping, he can’t seem to stand still. One of the other surprising things about them is the commanding stage presence they possess. With very little effort they control the stage like very few young support bands ever do. Although the crowd is still almost non-existent, the harrowing brutality of “Neverbloom” incites the only movement from the crowd for pretty much the whole evening.

Following what feels like an eternity of a change over, As They Burn take to the stage. Plagued by a fairly poor sound quality, they power through a solid set of synth laden deathcore bangers. Although technically tight and synchronised on stage, there seems to be something missing in their sound.  Although all the elements are there, the delivery feels a little bit hollow, especially compared to the punch of Make Them Suffer. This can be seen in the cloud of apathy that descends over the crowd.

Fellow French symphonic death metal loons Gorod start to bring things back in the right direction. However, the mix of classic rock arpeggios and sweeps transitioning into death metal blast beats and hardcore breakdowns is a bit bewildering at first. The flawless technicality of the guitar work is mesmerising but it takes a few songs for the crowd to really get it. But by mid-set the band receive rapturous applause for every song. Even with this powerhouse of sound there is little in the way of crowd participation, the front of stage area almost empty as most of the crowd choosing to loiter at the sides and back of the venue. Curse those Roast dinners!

After another lengthy stage swap probably the heaviest band on the bill get their time to shine. Beneath The Massacre take this opportunity and hit the ground running.  From the offset they are easily the heaviest band I have ever seen live. In fact they are so heavy it’s almost impossible to react other than stand fixed to spot, frozen in fear that this behemoth of death metal might actually kill you. There is no let up, no breakdowns, no interludes just 40mins of blistering blast beat and tremolo guitar riffs. The bass lines pummel into your body like a Mike Tyson liver punch. Vocalist Elliot Desgagnes is a monstrous figure on stage, built like a tank with a voice that could scare the chest hair off Satan.  Any band forced to follow Beneath The Massacre must be shitting kittens about now.

The band chosen to follow this ridiculously heavy set is German deathcore mentalists War From A Harlots Mouth. Sadly they fail to even come close to the bar set by BTM. Maybe it’s due to a last minute line up change or just a general upstaging but WFAHM feel disjointed, the constantly changing rhythms and time signatures make it hard to get sucked into the set. Even the jazz breakdowns and technical sections feel a little out of synch tonight. It’s quite clear that the sheer insanity of their transmetropolitan album is gone and they are pursuing a more modern deathcore feel to their music. Their set isn’t a complete washout though. When they break into Uptown Girl the crowd surges forward in a rush of excitement,  a few audience members reaching for their moment to grab the microphone and scream along.

Finally it’s time for tonight’s headliners Job For A Cowboy, unfortunately I’ve never been impressed with JFAC live and tonight is no exception. From the very beginning the sound is muddy and distorted. Vocalist Jonny Davy seems a bit comedic on stage, flailing round like a fish out of water. I think it’s easy to get sucked into the nostalgia of JFAC a band that brought a genre to the spot light. Putting this aside and being realistic about it, their live show tonight is very below par. Especially when compared to the technicality, energy and sheer brutality of the support acts.