Stuka Squadron + Dark Forest + Agincourt @ Scruffy Murphy’s, Birmingham – Friday 25 May 2012

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Review by Chop

Having had several recommendations to check out tonight’s headliner, it would have been rude for extreme metal addicts Chop and Jason to not take a trip down memory lane and witness three acts from the NWOBHM school. A change is as good as a rest and all that…

Agincourt got the evening under way with a half hour set that leant most on the works of Iron Maiden, Scorpions, and Thin Lizzy. Opening with the track ‘Agincourt’ it was immediately obvious that the band had been around for a while, mainly due to their overall tightness as a unit and the impressive guitar harmonies and interplay between the two six stringers. As their set wore on the slight failings of the rhythm section became increasingly apparent, as did the vocalist’s limitations at times. That said, the crowd loved them and they started the night off in fine fashion, all things considered.

Dark Forest‘s recent history could be aptly described as turbulent if truth be told, with line-up changes galore hampering their progress somewhat. The main differences between Dark Forest and the openers were evident quickly. Musically they were more direct descendants of Iron Maiden, but with a folk lilt to their work, best demonstrated on the track ‘The Green Knight’. To my ears, the rhythm section was far more expansive, whilst the vocalist called upon an impressive range, especially several of the high end shrieks. Time will tell if this current incarnation can stay together, but without tempting fate, if they do they could well develop a strong following within this genre. One to keep an eye on…

Two solid opening acts completed and the stage was set for Stuka Squadron to impress an admirably still full room. Dressed in military fashion – think Deathstars or Impaled for obvious comparison – they owned the stage and the crowd from the off, making a seventy minute set disappear in seemingly no time at all. Again from the NWOBHM school, their songs had a thrashier edge, although ‘We Drink Blood’ had a punkier feel and was more akin to Killing Joke. Very early on – and with no disrespect to Agincourt or Dark Forest – it was evident what a different proposition they were, possessing that fun – or grin – factor, and cocky assurance that many bands would kill for. I strongly suspect you won’t be seeing Stuka Squadron playing venues of this size for much longer. Their set was well crafted and paced and a bright future awaits them, I’m sure. Check them out as soon as you can before the arena or festival circuit beckons.

Set list: Tales Of The Ost, Stuka Squadron, Desert Fox, On The Volga Bridge, We Drink Blood, One Eyed God King, Tiger I, Zabulon’s Inferno

Encore: Lovercraft