Bullet & A Badge


Another week and another Long Island band rolls through the Potteries. Metalcore quartet Stray From The Path arrive in town on Tuesday evening to play the Underground after performing as part of the humongous Slam Dunk Festival over the three days prior to hitting Stoke. 

Last week had been pretty weird overall. I went to bed on Monday with news circulating around social media about a speaker exploding at a concert in Manchester earlier in the evening. I awoke on Tuesday to the news that 19 people had died – later to rise to 22. Rather than a speaker failing it turned out to be a suicide bomber. 

Work has been unusually hectic for this time of year and for the weather that encompassed the UK over the tail end of last week. I just couldn’t be bothered to make the effort to catch gigs on Thursday and Friday and I missed a matinee show in Stoke Town on Saturday.  

The sole show of the weekend has been the Sheer Attack show in a pizza shop up in Liverpool. Four bands for a fiver in a tiny room. DIY shows still have an element of charm even after all these years. 

Today is a bank holiday here which means a bonus day off work, but it’s back to the grind stone at 5am tomorrow, but it’s half term over locallt, which in a nutshell means the kids are off school and traffic is non existent until noon when they all seem to head towards the shopping centres and I can, in theory, get my job done in less time and stress. 

If the theory goes to plan I can get home earlier than usual and partake in a power nap before I head out to the metal show. I’m not a dyed in the wool metalcore diehard and I’ve not heard a great deal by Stray From The Path and I’ve heard even less than that by the other three bands on the bill (Black Coast, Empires and Cale Lane). 

It’s a local show and I like to do my bit as much as I can for local shows, so in my eyes handing over whatever the entrance fee is on the night keeps a steady flow of bands coming to the city. At 43 years young though I’ll be very surprised if there are many more people in the Underground older than I. 

Considering metalcore is a relatively new offshoot of the hardcore scene that I’ve been “involved” with since the early 90’s I’m was sorely tempted to buy a shirt I saw online a while back. The back print bore the legend “hardcore was better when I was your age” and as a bitter and twisted pensioner, I’d have to agree whole heartedly with it. There was a time when it felt a so much more inclusive and welcoming scene. Twenty years on it seems like a massive clique. 

Thomas Williams has fronted the band since 2001, and is the only original member left. The album that Badge & a Bullet is from (Anonymous) is their sixth album and their last album surfaced in 2015. 

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The Sadist Nation

Gig wise this weekend has all gone to pot. I couldn’t get a power nap on Friday and I was in bed before 8pm, pretty much the same time that I should’ve been in Manchester viewing Black Spiders or locally at the Freebird watching Iron Maiden tribute band Iron Ed. 

Yesterday went pretty much along the same lines. A late finish at work then unable to get some sleep before I departed for Leeds. Another stumbling block was the fee for a hardcore show where I was only going to be see four or five bands. It was £35 in advance so I reckon closer to £40 on the door. 

The weekend in Norwich for Thrashersarus, in hindsight, was the better option – £15 for the weekend. I spent a while weighing up taking to the road, or rails, for today’s instalment. Yet again costs have made the decision for me. Train was going to cost me the best part of a hundred quid but on top of either option a hotel close to the venue was in excess of £100. Something cheaper by half was the other side of the city and the taxis I’ve had over the last two years there haven’t been cheap. 

So onto this evening. The only gig I’ve actually paid out money for is the Darkest Hour doss in Birmingham this evening. 

This Washington DC melodic death metal band have been going for over twenty years and released nine albums to date. I first heard the band when they were on a Victory Records sampler CD in 2003 with Freya. I only got that disc was due to Freya having Earth Crisis members within their ranks. The only two albums I’ve heard have been Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation – also from 2003 – and this years offering (and the award for strangest album title of 2017 goes to…) Godless Prophet and the Migrant Flora. 

They’ve played an absolute slew of British shows with the likes of Machine Head and Bleeding Through going right back to 2004, but this will be my first time seeing them. Five of those nine albums were released via Victory Records but it was at a time where the label seemed to be experimenting a bit too much in my eyes and distancing themselves from the hardcore sound that ultimately put them on the map.  

The biggest draw for tonight has to be one of Britain’s brightest lights in the death metal scene Venom Prison from South Wales. I think I’ll be on the train later with the last one home just before 11pm, but hopefully I’ll get a decent slice of Darkest Hour before I have to bid auf wiedersehen. 

The video for The Sadist Nation was originally on their 2003 album and at a time when they were a melting pot of all their influences. Pick it apart and you’ll hear some death metal, thrash and hardcore thrown together. 

Devoid

  

Now that I’ve lowered the tone a bit and reminisced about days of old it’s time to get a bit more up to date and have a look at some of the upcoming gigs that I may, or may not, be attending over the next couple of weeks. 

First up it’s possible that I could be inside Mama Roux’s in Birmingham for the Trap Them show. Until last night I’d not heard anything by the band and I’m still trying to figure out if the music I know to travel time ratio is worth the effort. My main reason for going was to catch South Wales heavyweights Venom Prison for the third time this year. 

I stumbled upon the band during the Rituals Festival in Leeds earlier this year. They just finished their sound check and launched into a blistering death metal and hardcore hybrid. Besides Grave who were my main reason for going over the Pennines, I didn’t know many of the other bands on the line up and thanks to a hold up on the motorway, a bit of car trouble, some blustery snow on the high ground and the obligatory getting lost in Leeds I managed to miss those bands. 

They supported Renounced in the Star & Garter a month or so ago and it was another no nonsense blitzkrieg on the Manchester crowd. They played their set with zero interaction with the audience then promptly walked off the rickety stage. Job done. 

Debut album Animus hit the shelves last Friday via the Prosthetic label and I’m yet to snag a copy. But if the two live performances are any indication of what to expect then there with be plenty of death metal with some hardcore style slow bits  with growls and screeches supplied by Larissa Stupar in abundance. Imagine a much more unforgiving and brutal Arch Enemy mixed with Walls of Jericho – but better on both counts – and you wouldn’t be too far off. 

It’s so weird seeing bands like this that transverse genres and scenes effortlessly. The hardcore kids love them as much as the death metal brethren do. Unlike some of the more hardcore sounding metal core bands, Venom Prison sit in the death metal camp much more easily. Pummelling death metal punctuated with hardcore breakdowns – and it works. 

It’s 50/50 at the moment if I’m in Birmingham on Wednesday evening, but if I am I’m witnessing a shining light of the future within the UK musical scene. They’ve only been together for a few years and already getting rave reviews in the major metal magazines. 
  
  

Genesis 

  

As you might have gathered I have a bit of an obsession with attending gigs, not as bad as some people I am aware of, but bad compared to a regular joe. 

As I’m in Amsterdam for a few days either side of my day trip to Eindhoven I had to have a look at who else was playing while I was in the city. Our trip fall between the two stools of Between The Buried And Me who play when I’m in Eindhoven and Bad Religion who play two days after I get home. Both are playing the Melkweg and according to the venues website Japanese band Nocturnal Bloodlust are playing on Sunday evening. 

I’ve never heard the band but with a title like that it has to be some brutal death metal band. On closer investigation with the ever faithful Spotify they are a melodic death core band. From the limited songs I’ve heard they probably owe their sound more to Trivium or Bring Me The Horizon rather than Cannibal Corpse or Obituary. The few songs I heard sound alright, nothing exactly ground breaking, but it might give me a reason to cross the Melkweg off my imaginary venue bucket list. A bit steep at nearly €30, so I’ll see how the mood takes me. 

Genesis is one of the top hits on YouTube and is here for no other reason than that. Apparently it’s taken from their 2014 release The Omnigod.