Review by Paul Castles with pictures by Helen Moss, ABSTRACT photo
Scruffy Murphys is probably the smallest venue in Birmingham but proved it can still attract a quality quartet thanks to the dedicated team at Heretic Promotions.
The four bands appearing at Scruffys were an eclectic bunch but combined well to produce a fine evening’s entertainment for the assembled masses. Perhaps that’s too strong a word but then in such an intimate venue as Scruffys even a couple of dozen punters can generate a good vibe.
While each act had a few pals to give them support, and help in setting up the gear, most people were drawn by Swiss headliners Zatokrev, who were in the UK to promote their new album The Bat, the Wheel and the Long Road to Nowhere.
Anyone arriving early expecting four guitar thrashing metal bands could be forgiven if they thought they had turned up at the wrong place when From the Bogs of Aughiska took to the stage.
Even before a note was heard it was clear that this pair from across the Irish Sea were carved from a different piece of granite entirely from most traditional metal bands.
The pair, wearing white shirts, black ties and balaclavas do not so much ’play’ music as ‘create’ it.
Against the backdrop of a flickering monochrome screen filled with dark, stark images from their native Co Clare, FTBOA produced an almost flatline drone with occasional lifts and dips using a solitary guitar with the other half of this unique double act controlling this disturbing audio visual assault on his Playbook.
The duo’s album, Roots Of This Earth Within My Blood, does feature sporadic vocals from such illustrious guests as Chris Naughton from Winterfylleth but on stage vocal input is missing with the brief exception of some weird and wonderful mythical tales spoken by legendary Irish wordsmith Eddie Lenihen.
Quite clearly mass appeal is never going to be on the radar for FTBOA but if you want an ambient experience to challenge your senses and sensitivities then the mysterious Irishmen serve it up in spades.
Fever Sea, from Bristol, are a more conventional bunch (who isn’t!) and gave a good account of themselves with some melodic and pacey rhythms complemented by some powerful death metal growling.
Midlands band Structures were not quite as heavy in their delivery with sustained instrumental periods only occasionally broken by the vocals of frontman Iain Plimmer.
The quartet come from Tamworth and their second album, Your First Day as Part of Our World, is being self-released soon so a few promotional dates across the Midlands are on the cards.
Technically sharp, Structures execute their material well although the intensity and aggression levels are below what this particular reviewer prefers.
Zatokrev have intensity fury and fire coming out of every sweat-filled pore of their body.
Switzerland doesn’t quite have the reputation for producing storming metal bands that say Scandinavia or Germany does.
But having seen these Alpine agitators thrash their way through a magnificent moody set at Scruffys it’s clear, thank God, that not everyone in their homeland walks about in lederhosen and little green hats.
The Bat, the Wheel and the Long Road to Nowhere is a masterpiece and the new release naturally made up most of Zatokrev’s set.
The four-piece manage to deliver epic rolling thunderous songs that break the 10-minute
It’s a storming rollercoaster of finely mixed sludge during which you just have to jump on board and enjoy the ride.