Fearfest 2014 – The Asylum, Birmingham – Friday 3rd October 2014

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Review by Brady Deeprose

Fearfest came to Birmingham for the second year in a row, a sprawling 3-day weekend featuring some of the best talent the second city has to offer. Friday night was but a taster of the weekend proper, with 4 bands serving up the brutality for an extremely reasonable sum of £5.

Kicking off were one of Birmingham’s most celebrated thrash acts of late, Eradikator, who took a break from recording their second album with Russ Russell to be at the event. Classics from Dystopia, the bands debut record, went down well with all heads bobbing, however, a few of the newer tracks fell a little flat; it could be a case of waiting until we hear them in their fully polished glory in the next few months (I hope!).

Hordes have an air of mystery about them that clutches the room in grim anticipation as they stand lifeless, feedback in abundance, and wait… What follows is a 30 minute set brimming with atmospheric, doom-fuelled black metal at its most nihilistic: tracks from the bands first two records, I and II, resonating throughout the Asylum II as it slowly descends into a cavernous, chasm of despair. Frontman Duncan Wilkins’ raw, unintelligible yet visceral vocal style matches his introverted on-stage persona perfectly and makes a stark contract to the rest of the band, a flurry of headbanging and nightmare-weaving.

The band that travelled the furthest, Leeds’ Black Mass, may as well not have for all that we saw of them. All the members that could spent the entire set with their backs to the audience, not talking between songs and, frankly, killing the vibe. It wasn’t their music – a fairly high-paced harcore affair with some interesting twists and turns – but their attitude that seemed to put a lot of the crowd off. I prefer a band that interacts with the audience, if only to thank the venue and the people that have paid good money to see them, but I guess Black Mass had their own stage personas and fair play to them; they stuck to them avidly.

The pinnacle of the evening was, of course, everyone’s favourite sci-fi obsessed death metal band, Morgue Orgy (yes, the ones that got mentioned on Pointless). Ripping through material drawn mostly from their new record The Last Man On Earth, the 6-man troupe captured the imagination of the room and instigated an instant ban on frowns. Whether it’s the frenzied single ‘4 Days’ or the more grandiose ‘They Came From Outer Space’ (or ‘We Came From Outer Space’, no-one seemed to be quite sure), the band never allow your attention to drift. Closing the set with a rare treat, ’Maniac’ which involved a gambol pit (or roly-poly to anyone that wasn’t raised in The Black Country), something I never thought I’d witness. Clear veterans of the scene, Morgue Orgy perform with a level of class and sarcastic humour that is unbecoming of a ‘local’ band: lets hope they build on their recent Bloodstock second stage performance and continue to play to the high standard we’ve come to expect.