Review by Paul Castles, pictures by Helen Moss, Abstract Photo
A four-band bill in an atmospheric basement club with real ale at the bar. What could be better? Well a few more punters would have been nice for this Midlands Metalheads’ promotion.
My own interview commitments with the two top acts meant openers Kataleptic fell by the wayside for me on this occasion. Hope to catch up with the Brummie boys soon.
Ascaris are a three-man battering ram who charged head on into a feisty set that see-sawed between death and thrash metal. The Gloucester trio did their best to generate a reaction when hammering out songs such as ‘Apocalypse Eternal’ and ‘Waiting for the Whip’ but with so few on the floor that never looked likely. The singer did courageously try to stir things up with a few battle cries before final number ‘Sins of the Flesh’ and on another day Ascaris would have no trouble in getting a pit moving.
Ascaris were also the hands down winners – although to be fair the only contestants – in the unofficial best dressed men at The Flapper competition, all three members attired in dark shirts and ties. The band’s debut EP Initiation is out later this month so good luck with that fellas.
If ever a band were the polar opposite of their name then it’s Diabolical who of course were anything but. The Swedes have been around for some time but this tour was the first ever visit to the UK. Their recently released album Neogenesis (reviewed here) confirms that the current line-up has what it takes to elevate this five-man crew to new heights. After a crushing start with ‘Into Oblivion’ Diabolical had to pause briefly for a techy problem before proceeding to play an impassioned set with all four guitarists just about squeezed onto the small stage like sardines in a tin. To create some extra leg room guitarist Carl Stjärnlöv briefly stepped out onto the floor for an impromptu thrash with the fans while never dropping a note.
Neogenesis is a concept album and is sold alongside a book, written by Carl, with each chapter running parallel to each song. It was quite a challenge but musically Diabolical have successfully captured the dark evil vibe that runs through the pages. Performed live, songs such as ‘Metamorphosis’ and ‘Fields of Nihil’ grab you by the throat with their scything demonic sweeps, closing the set with the venomous ‘Children of the Mushroom Cloud’ from previous album Ars Vitae.
If you missed The Flapper festivities you will get the chance to check Diabolical out for yourself later in the year when they will be making their Bloodstock bow – don’t miss ‘em!.
The last time Svart Crown were in town was when supporting Nile at Rock Zombie last year. The French destroyers are a formidable live act, creating an atmospheric aural nightmare from which any escape attempts are futile. The haunting opening chimes of ‘Manifestation Symptoms’ signaled their arrival on stage and once the pounding rhythms took over all those present, not nearly enough as already said, immediately gave their neck muscles their best workout of the week.
If Gojira are France’s finest metal export of this generation then Svart Crown are only a frog’s leg behind them. Although the sound is coated in blackness it carries with it a depth and power that numbs the senses. Bearded frontman JG Ballad is almost contorted in pain as he carves out his riffs while bellowing like a deranged traffic cop trying to help navigate the traffic around the Arc de Triomphe in rush hour.
On songs such as the utterly savage ‘In Utero: A Place of Hatred and Threat’ all four band members play with a passion and commitment to match anything you could find from a Tour de France rider trying to climbing the Alps. For atmospheric aggression wound up tighter than a coiled spring, Svart Crown are a formidable force, just a shame there weren’t more at The Flapper to feel their power.