Review by Paul Castles, photos by Rich Thompson
A couple of months ago a titantic North American death metal juggernaut parked up at the Robin 2. Canadian crushers Cryptopsy, along with US death metal giants Jungle Rot and Disgorge did the damage in Bilston that night. Now, just a few Black Country miles away in Wolverhampton, the gore-splattered baton of mass destruction was in the equally uncompromising hands of Goatwhore and Dying Fetus. Backstage interviews with the two headline acts meant I was otherwise engaged when Fallujah and Malevolence were on stage, so apologies for having to miss their sets.
New Orleans is quite properly hailed as the spiritual home of sludge kings such as Down, Crowbar and Eyehategod. While on familiar terms with that esteemed trio, Goatwhore have made it their business to major on old school metal with its roots firmly in the Venom and Bathory camp. Frontman Ben Falgoust is doing his bit to bring studded leather armguards back into fashion and he had no trouble in whipping up the pit at the Slade Rooms. With elements of thrash, black and death, Goatwhore pretty much dish up a full metal menu and let you dissect the different flavours.
While fast and furious, and with more hooks than a gym changing room, Goatwhore almost drown you in riffs. Some much needed breathing space comes courtesy of the pounding ‘Cold Earth Consumed In Dying Flesh’ but thanks to the full on satanic surge of tracks such as ‘FBS’ (Fucked By Satan) the fires of Lucifer continued to rage throughout their set. Goatwhore’s reputation for unbridled savagery received a commendation from an unlikely source this month when one of their songs received a brief airing during the US hit drama series Elementary. You can check out the clip for yourselves here.
After their slightly uneasy Download appearance during the summer, Dying Fetus returned to more suitable surroundings, an intimate venue packed out with staunch supporters rather than the curious and perplexed faces that greeted them at Donington. There are very few bands who pack a punch to the solar plexus quite like Dying Fetus. The trio have been sitting on top of the grind perch for more than two decades and very few have come close to knocking them off.
Fetus in full flow are an unstoppable force and their ‘Reign Supreme’ tour of the badlands of Europe saw them make a welcome return to the Midlands. John Gallagher’s impenetrable vocals are deeper than a mine shaft and just as dark. His guitar work is mesmerizing at times with its raging speed and complexity. Alongside the shaven headed frontman is bassist Sean Beasley whose masterfully performed deep grooves and hooks help define the frantic Fetus sound.
Trey Williams’ drumming is relentless. He puts so much into it that when I spoke with him backstage about an hour before their set he still looked shattered from the previous night’s battering in Manchester. Laying down the pounding blastbeats that form an integral part of the Fetus sound, the Slade Rooms pit was swarming like a stirred up hornets’ nest from the moment the Maryland trio opened with ‘In The Trenches’ from Reign Supreme.
Fortunately, Trey was firing on all cylinders with the sticks flailing at blinding speed on numbers such as ‘Justifiable Homicide’. Another track from the latest album to give the neck muscles a bruising work out they won’t recover from in a hurry was the menacingly manic ‘From Womb To Waste’ and they also turned the clock back to debut album Purification Through Violence when launching into the brutal ‘Raped On The Altar’.
Fetus songs tend to gather steam like a stampede of buffalos, snorting away, before developing into a full head on charge such as on the rampaging ‘Grotesque Impalement’. If any song sums up their antipathy towards the establishment, it’s ‘Pissing In The Mainstream’ and that high velocity bullet of vitriol was followed towards the end of the set by the twisted crowdpleaser ‘Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog’.
A staggering pit just had enough adrenaline left for the final number ‘Your Treachery Will Die With You’; a Fetus classic guaranteed to get every bicep pumped up like a gym rat with aggression.
1. In The Trenches
2. One Shot, One Kill
3. Intentional Manslaughter
4. Justifiable Homicide
5. Second Skin
6. From Womb To Waste
7. Shepherd’s Commandment
8. Raped On The Altar
9. Subjected To A Beating
10. Grotesque Impalement
11. Praise The Lord
12. Pissing In The Mainstream
13. Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog
14. Your Treachery Will Die With You