18 April 2017

REVIEW: BLOOD RED THRONE, Sublime Eyes, Wretched Soul, Wolvencrown and Beyond Grace; The Angel Microbrewery, Nottingham – 16 April 2017

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Usually I avoid Nottingham like the plague (which incidentally didn’t avoid Nottingham in the year 1667 – a completely irrelevant piece of trivia for you)… it’s only an hour’s drive from home for me but it always seems some calamity or other befalls me and I end up stranded in the town. For a variety of reasons I’ve ended up here tonight for Norwegian death metal force BLOOD RED THRONE. The venue, The Angel Microbrewery, is pleasantly unusual and Nottingham has an extreme metal scene which should be the envy of everywhere in the UK. It’s nicely busy and the decent ales are flowing; it’s going to be a good night.

Opening the show tonight is Nottingham’s ‘omni-dimensional’ death metal BEYOND GRACE (7). I happened to see them four days previously on the first date of their current tour with Spires. They impressed me then with their jazzy grooves and gruff powerful vocals and I’ve got to say the three shows they’ve played since has done nothing to dampen their energy.

Nottingham’s WOLVENCROWN (8) treat us to their epic atmospheric black metal. The deep growls emitting from vocalist Plaga’s balaclava are complemented nicely by guitarist Nick’s haunting howls. Although I know I’m standing in The Angels’ upstairs chapel, it is so easy to drift away listening to WOLVENCROWN and imagine I’m lost in a dense and endless forest. If, like me, this kind of thing floats your boat you should check out their self-titled EP on bandcamp.

It’s around this point in proceedings that a rather fraught-looking promoter started cutting set times short as time seems to have slipped away. I enjoyed Canterbury’s WRETCHED SOUL (7) more tonight than I have when I’ve seen them previously. I’m not a massive fan of Chris Simmons’ soaring power metal style vocals. I am however, a big fan of long hair and beards, of which the band has in abundance. I realise that I am in the minority in not particularly loving WRETCHED SOUL – the crowd respond very well to tracks “Necromancer”, “The Silent God” and “War Wolf”; all from their 2016 album “The Ghost Road”.

I really wanted to love SUBLIME EYES (8). The vocalist Arvid Tjelta seems like the jolliest man in metal. The beaming Norwegian giant insisted on warmly introducing himself to those of us stood around before the set and thanked us for coming to the show. Fortunately the groove thrashers had a great show and proved to be as charming onstage as they were offstage. Some great moments from the set included “We Are Chaos” and “Ten Stones”; both from 2015’s “Sermons & Blindfolds”. An energetic and furious warm up band to get the crowd moving and pumped up before the headliners took to the stage.

Norway’s death metallers BLOOD RED THRONE (10) are clearly too big for The Angel’s little stage. Their banner barely fits in the room, the five stocky blokes that make up the band perform a delicate dance throughout the set to avoid bumping into one another, not to mention the countless pints of water that litter the stage. Their set is relentlessly crushing from start to finish. The crowd is afforded no relief, no mercy, from the onslaught of blasts, grooves and guttural roars. The whole pub seemed to shake throughout. Even sat now reminiscing about their intense show – I am overcome with exhaustion.

Like a burning Norwegian church, the venue is on fire. Vocalist Yngve “Bolt” Christiansen is dowsing himself in water and windmilling his mop-like hair around – the spray hits me in the face – he resembles a wet helicopter. It’s hard to pick some stand out moments from what was quite a spectacular show from BLOOD RED THRONE but “The Light, The Hate” from 2009’s “Soul Damnation”, “Primitive Killing Machine” and “Soulseller” both from their self titled album of 2013 all stand out.

I left The Angel for the drive home – hot, sweaty, exhausted but ultimately very satisfied with this incredible show. If you get a chance to catch the rest of the tour, don’t hesitate! Just brace yourselves.

18 April – Mama Roux’s: Birmingham

19 April – EBGBS: Liverpool

20 April – Eradication Festival: Cardiff

21 April – The Anvil: Bournemouth