Heart Of A Coward + THECITYISOURS + Overthrone + Spitting Teeth at The Devil’s Dog, Digbeth on 18th October 2023


The Devil’s Dog, situated in Birmingham’s historical heart has, in a short space of time, quickly risen in stature to become the premier metal venue. Things here tend to veer towards the heavier end of the spectrum, and no more so than with tonight’s line-up. When band is called Spitting Teeth, it should give you a good indication of what they’re all about, and this crew don’t disappoint. Opening track ‘Everything’ could strip paint from the walls and when you factor in a vocalist who sings from the floor whilst wearing a balaclava, you have a pretty intense experience, and one that offers little in the way of redemption. ‘Deathwish’ ups the ante somewhat, and the band deliver a succession of hefty blows that shake the fillings from our molars and by the time we reach closer ‘Suffer’ we are left battered and bruised (but in the best possible way).

On an evening that promises much heaviness, Overthrone don’t let the side down and they are another band who offer no quarter. Their first shot is ‘Masochist’ and it soon has the crowd in their steely grasp, yet the band fully understand musical dynamics and offer chinks of light to temper their shade. This is most evident in the twin vocal attack that’s like fire and ice, with each acting as a foil to highlight and contrast the other, drawn together then pulled apart and only serves to constantly reposition the audience. It has the effect of holding us in rapt attention for 30 brutal, though not unpleasant, minutes and promises much future mayhem.

As you’d expect from a band of THECITYISOURS’ pedigree, there’s no time wasted on fancy introductions, they just arrive, plug in and play, and they’re all the more powerful for it. It has that surprise factor; like a rabbit punch, you don’t see it until impact is imminent and subsequently it becomes all the more powerful. It’s not an easy trick to pull off but this bunch have it down to a fine art, rolling smoothly across the stage, and by the time we reach second track, the aptly-tiled ‘Dangerous’, they are firmly in the groove. We were spoiled with two solid opening bands but THECITYISOURS are a major step up in class (mainly due to the length of time they’ve been in the game) and set the venue aflame with ‘Wildfire’, ensuring this is one set that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

The last month or so has been something of a rebirth for Heart Of Coward; having just released their critically-acclaimed fifth album, This Place Only Brings Death (reviewed here), and coming to the end of another successful tour, they are very much on an upward trajectory. Therefore, there’s a tangible tension crackling the air as we await the band, and it is only heightened by Coolio’s ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ which is used by way of an intro tape (although I maintain that Weird ‘Al’ Yankovic’s ‘Amish Paradise’ would be a better bet) and it certainly gets the whole venue bobbing in unison. As the lights go down, a cheer erupts and when vocalist Kaan screams “Birmingham, make some noise”, the assembled throng are only too happy to oblige. Prowling the stage like a nocturnal cat, Kaan constantly riles up the crowd, but truth be told they don’t require much goading; it doesn’t take long for a pit to erupt and it continues to swirl throughout the whole gig. Attired all in black, Heart Of A Coward cut a unified vibe, like an unruly street gang, this does tend to make each band member fade into the background, but on the flip side it has the added bonus of bringing their songs to the fore, and when the songs are this good, that’s exactly where they should be. Tonight’s set list is weighed heavily towards This Place Only Brings Death, it is such a great album that that’s no real hardship, but the band find time to visit all points of their career, giving us a complete career overview which sends even the most fastidious fan home happy.