The Star & Garter, Manchester 29/11/07
Well, it’s been a good ten months since I last had the pleasure of seeing Volition play live, so this was a concert that I had been looking forward to for some time. So much so that I passed up the chance of seeing Marduk playing live the very same night. Having been listening to Blood Island Raiders’ amazing new album, too, my expectations were raised even higher for the evening ahead. A lengthy sound check (leaving the gig starting at around half-eight-ish, if memory serves correct) had me literally sat on the edge of my seat, while listening to the bands throw out short renditions of their songs that pounded through the ceiling above me; giving every fan below a taste of what was to come. As soon as the gig came underway, I was up those stairs like a flash. Well, a stumbling flash, I suppose. The sound check gave me plenty of opportunity to sample the alcohol available at the Star and Garter.
First up were local band (and the only one playing this night, I believe) Limbic Riot. Slow, crushing riffs and drum pounding got the night off to an eventful start. The lead singer dishing out some agonisingly powerful screams, ranging from deep growls and all the way up, sending waves of distortion bouncing off the crowd. The rest of the band stayed fairly motionless, which would’ve garnered a negative response from me had it came from most other bands, but this seemed to match the band’s pessimistic noise really well. Not that the band had much room to move about had they decided to pick the physical energy up a notch. Limbic Riot’s room shaking music definitely made for a great opening act. Unfortunately, I found the songs tended to be somewhat similar, but I put this down to a lack of knowledge of the band’s material before the gig. They’re definitely an act that I intend to look further in to, and played their part well as opening act.
After Limbic Riot had kicked off the beginning of premature deafness for the majority of the crowd, Liverpool’s Zangief took the stage to deliver, in comparison, a more upbeat sound. The band seemed shy and slightly uneasy to begin with; especially the lead singer, who showed more of his shirt label to the audience than his face to begin with. As they progressed, their confidence became more apparent, and the music definitely benefited due to it. The vocalist’s energy perked up, sending his body into spasms of stationary movement. The guitarist threw out some distortion coated blues-esque riffs that offset the singer perfectly. The bass and drums worked well in unison to create an overpowering sense of gloom to counteract the sanguine melody that cropped up during the course of their set. Again, as with the previous band, not knowing much about the band’s material before seeing them live, meant their impact was a short-lived. That could be contributed to my partially inebriated state, though.
Finally, the moment I was most looking forward to had arrived. Volition took the stage opening up with loudest noise of the night by far. Songs like Cheyne Stoking filled the room with eardrum destroying distortion. This, to me, is what can be defined as “heavy”. It was almost as if Limbic Riot and Zangief were intentionally playing at a lower volume until these guys flicked it up to eleven (forgive the cheesy paraphrase). The vocalist roared deep, menacing growls occasionally switching to a more black metal-esque screech that sounded like pure torture manifest into music; going into full swing projecting his voice into the microphone held a foot away from his mouth, and still managing to match the rest of the band in terms of sheer ferocity. The guitars and bass created a wall of noise that increased every member of the crowd’s chances of developing hearing problems, but this was well worth any damage done, though. They played through favourites like Halls of Degredation and Tempestuous Seas, leaving everyone salivating at the prospect of their imminent debut album release.
Up last were Blood Island Raiders, whom despite having the unfortunate slot of having to follow Volition, still managed to blow me away. The singer, Warren, mentioned that the band was the odd one out in terms of heaviness, but they had a whole different sound to offer us. They broke into instant classics like Demon and I am the King with ease; even letting the audience pick a song for them to play. Their participation with the crowd made for a good few laughs, which made for a refreshing change of pace to the proceedings. Warren was on top form as he sang through the set list with what can only be described as “gusto” (I know… who even says that anymore?). The guitarist, Al, was a whole different kettle of fish compared to the previous three bands, playing catchy riffs and intricate guitar solos that still retained the heaviness of the night’s atmosphere. The band as a whole played perfectly, and finished off the night on a definite high as Jas from Volition and the vocalist donned their guitars and played through the final song ‘Night of the Frost’. With enough motivation instilled in us to brave the cold Manchester weather, the gig finished. The band’s sound is far too big for such a small venue and lack of attendance. It’s the type of music that should have people crammed into the front head banging to their behest. I’ve got high hopes for them, and I can see their music finding a solid place in doom circles.
All in all, the night was a great success. Volition and Blood Island Raiders were the high points of the night, but that was expected long before I crossed the doorway of the Star and Garter. I refrain from choosing a favourite due to how incomparable both bands’ music is. Needless to say, I’ll definitely be attending any gig that either of these bands play in the area during the near future. Limbic Riot and Zangief played a big part in setting the tone for the night, too, but should concentrate on building a more individual identity for themselves. I suppose that comes with more gigging and exposure, though, so next time you see them (or any of the four bands for that matter) on a line-up, get down and show your support. I guarantee that it’ll be time well spent.
Scribed by: Lewis Hunter
Photos by: Lee Edwards