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Friday 19th January 2015
Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
The last time I witnessed Savage Messiah in live action was at Nottingham's Doghouse Studios at Earache's 2010 Christmas party, only four months after they inked a deal with said label, which acted as something of a showcase for the band. Just over four years on and two albums later, they find themselves in the far more eminent setting of the Rescue Rooms, opening for Amon Amarth. While their short set largely fails to incite any kind of energy in the crowd, a few heads can be seen nodding along to the band's generic thrash discharge. And frontman Dave Silver's (the only remaining member from their 2010 lineup) proclamation that they recently had a very metal van repair bill for 666.00 at least gets punters cheering at the Spinal Tap-esque irony. Ultimately, though, their thrash-by-numbers approach doesn't provide the necessary spark in the audience, who evidently expect a little more originality in their music.
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Amon Amarth at the Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, UK, 19th January 2015
Photograph copyright 2015 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Californian-based Huntress are up next and, with the time now 7:15pm, the venue is noticeably busier before they appear, with a little more buzz in the air. Bursting onto the stage to deliver a rousing rendition of their debut album's title track, 'Spell Eater', it's clear that this quintet's performance is all about raw metal energy, and this they offer up in abundance. Taking a break from recording their third album, it seems Huntress are more than adept at switching to live mode, as they're perhaps one of the more genuinely lively acts I've had the pleasure of witnessing in a long time. While all band members collectively perform their socks off, it's frontwoman Jill Janus who irresistably becomes the main focal point through her ceaseless onstage energy; commanding attention for both her dynamic presence and impressively powerful vocal range. Like Savage Messiah, Huntress' music is rooted in retro reverence, although their palette is coloured with a more diverse range of inspirations. Thus, death, thrash, black, traditional, and doom elements all rear their head tonight through the likes of 'Destroy Your Life', 'Children', 'Zenith', and set closer 'Eight of Swords'. And it's a potent mix, delivered as it is in a live context with so much discernible passion. After tonight's performance, it's clear to see why Huntress have been fast-rising to prominence and it surely won't be long before they return here as headliners.
With their current UK headline trek taking in no less than 14 shows (now that's a proper tour!), Sweden's Amon Amarth might be playing venues far more compact than what they're otherwise accustomed to performing in, although it's seemingly a wise move as the majority of dates sold out weeks in advance. Nottingham's Rescue Rooms is no exception and a cold, wintry January evening sees them play to a capacity crowd, with punters packed in tight, both downstairs and upstairs, in this 450 capacity venue. Hitting the stage at 8:30pm prompt, they commence attack with a duo of 'Deceiver of the Gods' numbers - 'Father of the Wolf' and the title track. The crowd are propelled into a moshing frenzy, while those on the perimeter of the pit nucleus ardently bang their heads and raise fists aloft. Huntress might've warmed up the crowd, but it's the Swedish deathsters the majority have turned up for, and their epic metal assault impels much metal merriment within the Rescue Rooms. And merriment is an apt word, for Johan Hegg and his comrades spend most of the performance smiling at both the crowd and each other. Amon Amarth always look like they're having fun on stage - tonight's no exception and it's evident the audience latch right onto that jovial vibe. In fact, it's great to see and hear Hegg in fine growled voice this evening, as the band were forced to perform an instrumental set in Plymouth two nights prior when he was unable to sing. An hour and a half seems to pass by ever so swiftly and after a barrage of hard-hitting, epic-induced tracks, including the likes of 'Live for the Kill', 'Guardians of Asgaard', 'For Victory of Death', 'War of the Gods', 'Cry of the Black Birds' and 'Bleed for Ancient Gods', they're already wrapping up the evening with encore airings of 'Twilight of the Thunder God' and 'The Pursuit of Vikings'. That's Nottingham well and truly conquered.
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