Review by Paul Castles, photos by Tony Gaskin
The third Black Country Metal Fest drew a healthy and hearty crowd to the Slade Rooms for a day of all things heavy. With the mighty Crowbar as the main attraction this was a night not to be missed. Thanks to the hard working Midlands Metalheads promotions team a dazzling array of metal talent was attracted to the cosy confines of the most atmospheric Black Country venue.
Events kicked off mid afternoon but when I eventually rolled up it was just in time to catch London boys Savage Messiah. This was the thrash demons’ second West Midlands’ platform in barely 10 days having supported Soulfly at the Academy.
Savage Messiah aren’t the kind of band to do anything other than play hard and fast and with a new album to promote in The Fateful Dark they kicked off with ‘Iconocaust’ and ‘Scavengers of Mercy’. Flamboyant frontman Dave Silver will have won no awards for political correctness when explaining how the quartet had just made a video for the song ‘Hellblazer’ featuring an appearance from one of the vixens from Game of Thrones. (See it here)
Silver though is also silver-tongued, introducing ‘Hammered Down’ as a fast one… they’re all fast! In fact if Savage Messiah was a train it wouldn’t stop when passing through stations, merely slow down a notch for punters to throw themselves off! Bowing out with ‘The Cursed Earth’ and an absolutely pounding riff, Savage Messiah showed exactly why they’re more than capable of giving the likes of Evile a run for their money in the current generation of best British thrash bands.
Flayed Disciple are another full on force and this was the second time I’d caught up with them having seen them at the Asylum2 last summer supporting Blood Red Throne.
Vocalist Tim Whyte has a powerful weapon in his death metal delivery and with his wide-eyed manic stare into the pit he’s a real vision of violence on stage. Pulverising their way through a set like a bull in a china shop, Flayed Disciple hammered home some crushing blastbeats with Tim’s impenetrable vocals layered on top. Flayed Disciple have a real rawness about them that’s infectious and if you like your metal coated in brutality then they won’t disappoint.
This was my first experience of Obzidian who were quite an entertaining bunch who didn’t take themselves too seriously. As frontman Matty J never tired of telling us, the bulk of their set was taken from their new release Concrete Psychosis.
Songs like ‘This is Fury’ and ‘Symmetry of Justice’ were blasts of groove-laden grindcore played with passion and power.
By now some of the diehards had been on their feet for eight or nine hours but there was certainly no-one looking for an early checkout before catching top of the bill legends Crowbar.
Celebrating 25 years this year, Crowbar are a dripping slice of New Orleans sludge, often fast, sometimes slow but at all times heavy. In fact, anyone who doubted the band’s claims to being one of the heaviest crews around had such negative thoughts shoved so far down the back of their throat that their probably still picking up the pieces.
Kicking straight in with the barbaric ‘Conquering’, Kirk Windstein inflicted further pain on his already tortured vocal box, with this gig the penultimate of their UK tour. Moving quickly into ‘High Rate Extinction’ this was confirmation, as if any should be required, that the southern riff lords have created some of the most compulsive neck breaking material of modern times. Kirk parted company with Down last year to focus all his energies on Crowbar but the number of Down shirts worn on the night were testament to his immense contribution to the success of Phil Anselmo’s post-Pantera band stretching over a period of more than two decades.
Crowbar flick effortlessly from hardcore bullets the hit you between the eyes such as ‘Sever the Wicked Hand’ through to the shuddering ‘Planets Collide’ which has the sounds of the swamps running through it. The intro to closing number ‘Let Me Mourn’ saw the pit swaying from one side to the other as the piercing opening riff ricocheted off the Slade Room walls with Kirk a figure of defiance still serving up that sweet and sticky sludge.
Crowbar have a new album out on May 27, Symmetry in Black, (via Century Media) none of which was performed live on this tour. If it matches the quality of what they’ve served up for a quarter of decade then it expect it to see it make the frame in plenty of end of year best lists.
2. High Rate Exinction
3. Lasting Dose
4. Burn Your World
5. New Dawn
6. Sever the Wicked Hand
7. Liquid Sky & Cold Black Earth
8. All I Had I Gave
9. Planets Collide
10. Cemetery Gates
11. Let Me Mourn