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By fuck, those folk at Earache Records know how to throw a party. Four bands, 2 comedians, a roaming magician and three ladies collectively known as The Sirens - a dance troupe who cover their bodies in a plethora of fluids while moving provocatively to rock tunes. Yes, it's the legendary metal label's annual xmas bash and, this year, it's held in a makeshift venue at Nottingham's Doghouse Studios. PA speakers and lighting are rigged in the far corner of a rehearsal room where the four bands perform, and an adjoining room has been transformed into the bar area which serves free drinks the entire night for those listed as VIP (thanks Earache!), and reasonably priced beverages for everyone else. Suffice to say, by the early hours of the morning, some party goers look like they've taken full advantage of the free/cheap bar, particularly the guy who starts babbling pure random nonsense at me around 1am while trying not to fall flat on his face. With festivities commencing around 8pm, Cerebral Bore are first band to perform tonight an hour or so into the party...
Saturday 11th December 2010
Doghouse Studios in Nottingham, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
Playing grind-infused death, Glaswegians Cerebral Bore impress with the incisively tight delivery of their up tempo metal offensive. A small group of people prance around in a sparse pit just in front of the band, hurling themselves and the cans of beer they hold into the air, while others opt to watch from a few steps back, as the four musicians provide a dynamic and gutsy start to the evening. Bassist Kyle Rutherford has true command of his instrument with a virtuoso display of playing that brings to mind the genre's greats such as Alex Webster or Blood Red Throne's Erlend Caspersen, while Dutch vocalist Simone "Som" Pluijmers also makes an impression with some effective guttural growls. Based on tonight's performance I was going to say that it'll surely not be too long before this unsigned act are snapped up by a label but, at the time of writing, Cerebral Bore have secured a deal with Earache which makes their appearance tonight both apt and explicable.
The party continues with recent Earache signings Savage Messiah. Or, at least, that was the plan, as one song into their set and the London thrashers are clearly struggling with their equipment so cease playing for 5-10 minutes while they rectify some unfortunate sound issues. And when they resume their thrash onslaught, the PA sounds terrible. However, that doesn't deter the band from giving it their all performance-wise as they work their way through an array of material lifted from both debut album 'Spitting Venom' and last year's Candlelight release 'Insurrection Rising'. Their set is very raw sounding due to said sound problems, but Savage Messiah are well received by those who watch with a few punters engaging in some serious headbanging throughout.
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The Sirens performing at Doghouse Studios, Nottingham, 11th December 2010
Photograph copyright © 2010 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
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A break from the evening's music arrives in the form of two comedians. Or that should perhaps be 'comedians' in a generous use of the term. First up is Bob Slayer whose act seems to be devoid of any humour or jokes in favour of handing out cans of beer and dressing one guy in a wig and fake moustache while encouraging him to sing a little of Queen's 'We Will Rock You'. Next up is Canadian comic Jason Rouse, a man who is no stranger to metal crowds with appearances at both Sonisphere and Download. While he's both confident and animated in his delivery, the material uttered has a misogynistic edge and generally seems misplaced and ill-timed within the context of the night's jovial atmosphere. A few people chuckle quietly and politely to some of the man's ramblings but it seems to be a case of wrong time, wrong place, and most certainly wrong material. When I hear a guy behind me say "poor man's Bill Hicks", that's a pretty accurate critique of Jason Rouse tonight.
It's kind of ironic at a metal label's party with four bands performing that the largest crowd of the night materialises when three semi-naked ladies take to the small platform by the side of the stage area to strut their stuff to the accompaniment of rock/metal tracks. That's to be expected though, I guess, and The Sirens provide a jovial break in the evening's proceedings. Each of the women take it in turn to perform a solo semi-strip routine which generally involves pouring a range of alcohol (and milk) over their own bodies and the crowd, and it's as much fun observing expressions on spectators' faces as well as The Sirens themselves. Their fifteen minute stint climaxes with the three girls engaged in a pillow fight as feathers fill the air in what is a rather aesthetically enchanting scene. And it's astonishing how many feathers a couple of pillows shed as both floor and punters are covered in the damn things for the remainder of the night - a telling sign as to who had a prime viewing position for the ladies' performance! Seemingly making a name for themselves within the metal scene, they've also been booked for 2011's Bloodstock Open Air. Vivacious, fun and irresistably seductive - make sure you check 'em out!
Fresh off a European tour supporting Airbourne which ended only last night in Birmingham, Swedish trad-metallers Enforcer treat party goers to a set of their old school, retro sounding tunes. Showing no signs of fatigue from trekking around Europe with a bunch of Aussies, the Swedes are, by far, the liveliest band of the night as they strike every clichéd pose in the book of heavy metal. While I would find this to be somewhat cheesy in the context of an average gig, Enforcer's effervescent display of all-out fun is apposite for tonight's festivities and lapped up by a copiously inebriated crowd. Frontman, and founding member, Olof Wikstrand amuses as he smashes unopened beer cans into the side of his head until they explode, a trait he's undoubtedly picked up from hanging out with Airbourne's Joel O'Keeffe the past few weeks, while bassist Tobias Lindqvist looks hyper-excited with an exhibition of demented facial expressions as he throws himself around, and occasionally onto the feather-carpeted floor. Sound-wise, Enforcer fare better than Savage Messiah, although they have a fairly muddy mix through the PA so nothing can be heard with any great clarity. Still, it's party-time so no-one seems overly concerned about a substandard sound, and Enforcer fully embrace the moment.
Seemingly ubiquitous throughout the UK gigging scene, it's no surprise to find Annotations of an Autopsy on the bill tonight. However, they suffer similar sound problems to Savage Messiah and Enforcer with a 'dirty' PA mix providing an unfortunate grungy slant to their death sounds. This strips their music of all the precision and incisiveness you'd usually associate with the Norwich based extreme metallers, although their set is still a hard-hitting onslaught of pure heaviness topped off with the ferocity of frontman Steve Regan's growls. Playing until around 1am, a large crowd stay to witness their entire performance, although when they finish many promptly leave Doghouse Studios, leaving only the hardcore few to see out the evening until 3am. All in all, an amazingly fun xmas party, and one with a great, convivial atmosphere. Metal festive celebrations don't get much better than this!