Review by Emily Castles
Just down the road from New Cross Gate station is the New Cross Inn. On the corner of a slightly rundown, residential street – at first glance, it doesn’t pack much of a punch. It’s a cheap and cheerful boozer with a floor-level stage right by the bar and no ‘backstage’ to speak of.
Instruments and amps are piled up by the side of the stage, spilling out onto the floor where the crowds begin to gather. There’s a flashing red ‘merch’ sign by the stairs, which takes you down into what can only be described as a crypt.
Inside the arches of the crypt, each band playing this evening has set up shop – hoping to get in some early sales. The pub is bursting at the seams, with metalheads spilling out onto the streets – many dipping into a local falafel shop for some pre-gig sustenance.
First on are Black metal-infused hardcore punk Londoners, Final Dose. Frontman Bruno Fusco gets us off to a high-energy start – these songs are fast and simple, with a strong dose of aggression. The set ends abruptly when he mumbles ‘thank you’ and quickly walks off the stage and into the crowd.
They are swiftly followed by fellow London crew Calligram, fresh off the back of their new album Position | Momentum. They are a captivating band to watch – this set is emotional, with singer Matteo Rizzardo convulsing throughout every song, wrapping the mic lead around his own neck in seeming despair.
He is on his knees for most of it, looking blankly out at no one in particular, as though contemplating his purpose in life. He travels into the audience (not hard – just one step forward) in a feverish rage, with deep guttural cries surfacing from his soul. The music is haunting, with fast riffs and solitary interludes.
Next up are Devastator, bringing to the table a more traditional Black Metal concoction for the night. At this point the crowd begins to get truly rowdy, with the first of this evening’s stage divers launching themselves into a cavernous sea of tattooed arms. Hailing from Derby, the band are relatively reserved in their performance despite the rapid moshing before them, but the set is full of catchy riffs including a cover of Motorhead’s fast and furious ‘Iron Fist’.
After a short interlude, the lights come down and we wait in haunting silence. Something is coming. Something big. Something brutal. Church bells ring out solemnly. Masked figures take to the stage, guided by a member of security with a torch.
Launching straight into ‘All Hail Hell’ the stage explodes with aggression, Midnight launching themselves from the tops of amps, squirming on the floor and smacking their instruments into the faces of those on the front row. The crowd erupts in an erratic display of appreciation, within minutes several of the crowd are bloody faced with bits of tissue stuck up their noses in fierce resilience.
There is a constant stream of stage divers. The guitarists are swinging off the poles that straddle the stage. The room is ALIVE. Formed in 2003 by Ohio’s Athenar, this one-man solo project brings in additional members for live shows but is very much one man’s brainchild. And what a brainchild it is. If you haven’t ever seen Midnight play live before, please do. It’s an experience that you will not regret.