Review and photos by Russ Tierney
First up tonight is Swindon’s I Defy, a name I’m familiar with but couldn’t place. To say these guys are heavy would be an understatement but then I knew what I was getting in to tonight and was prepared for an onslaught, so was pleasantly surprised to see these guys cut to quite melodic breaks and choruses ensuring some nice dynamic changes. Don’t get me wrong, I happily embrace the heavier end of the metal genre as much as the next man or I wouldn’t be here tonight, but it would have been all too easy to throw together three brutal bands with illegible logos. Anyway, these guys instantly get me nodding along with some tight double kick work synced up with decent riffage for unavoidable head banging grooves. The tone of the bassist Lee Brennan’s vocals compliment the brutality and power house frontman Guy Shergold during the melodic breaks which kinda suggests an Ill Nino feel minus the latin vibe in these parts. A decent set that, despite an early slot, got the crowd pumped and ready of the rest of the evening
Up next are Winterstorm, a local band that are no stranger to the Midlands Rocks Radio Show. Their start is slightly halted by the joys of modern technology as we wait for the computer to be booted by mask-wearing keyboardist, ‘Doomsday’. We’re shortly greeted with some dark melodic metal with operatic-styled vocals that, given the genre, would be impossible to not draw comparisons to the likes of Nightwish. Frontwoman Hannah undoubtedly handles her lead duties on guitar well, showing plenty of talent, but in terms of power and stage presence, it’s a genre that benefits from having a vocalist not tied down to any instrument. As the rest of the guys stay quite planted concentrating on rocking out in their designated space on tonight’s small stage, the energy in the most part is brought by ‘Doomsday’ on one of his crazy missions away from the keys… That is of course when he’s not randomly lying on the floor. It’s not an easy genre to execute on a small scale but Winterstorm have potential and may benefit from following fellow Brummies Hanging Doll over into Europe where the genre boasts more popularity.
Our headliners Mortad shot into the limelight by releasing their debut The Myth of Purity album via a cover CD on Metal Hammer. These guys kick off with the brutal album opener ‘All That’s Born Must Be Destroyed’ and then continue to play the album in order in its entirety, sometimes a mistake but not tonight. I’m instantly hit by how huge the sound is, more so than the CD and especially for a band seeking a second guitarist (if you are London-based and musically career minded, do contact Mortad). Mortad have a lot to say and are better placed than most to voice their opinion of the world through the sheer brutality of the genre given they’re fronted by pint-sized Iranian frontwoman Somi Arian. What Somi lacks in size she makes up for in presence and all is echoed when the ever energetic Somi announces her intent for the crowd to rock out every bit as hard as she is, after all she’s from a country where Metal Music is illegal and is now on a stage showcasing that very genre at the home of it, and just a day after Black Sabbath returned to town. To ram this point home further, their latest single and aptly titled ‘The Voice’ instantly hits a nerve, just hearing the intro to the track gives off an eerie unsettling feeling from my knowledge of the video alone. The album and show draw to a close, Mortad executed it perfectly. I don’t think I noticed one bum note and every member is highly skilled on their chosen weapon and as a result on more than one occasion my attention switches to the guy at the back Szymek Lawi making every single drum and cymbal hit count. If you own said Metal Hammer or have read this and are in any way intrigued by Mortad as a result, you really should catch them next time around. Given a sleepy Sunday evening in Brum maybe didn’t deliver on the expectation that ‘The Home Of Metal’ may convey, despite the small appreciative crowd lapping it up.
And you can see more of Russ’s photos here: