Post-gig hangover and a sore neck from the previous night's show in Leeds were never going to be enough to keep me from seeing Bolt Thrower for the second time in two days! Doors opened at 7 PM, but we decided to have a drink elsewhere before going in. As it turns out we didn't miss anything as we arrived about 7:30 and the first band were still setting up!
Merciless Terror were the winners of a competition run by Terrorizer! Magazine. A young death metal band from Nottingham, they were full of energy and did their best to get the sparse crowd moving but to little avail. I'm afraid these guys fell victim to the opening band curse that usually befalls bands you've never heard of. Even I was feeling that this was just something to get through before we got to Bolt Thrower! However, musically Merciless Terror were pretty good. They played pretty straight up death metal with some great riffs. Vocalist Dale Linsdell had a rasping growl and, despite what you may have thought from the non-reaction of the crowd, displayed good stage presence. This band has only been around for a year and they're already this good so, based on this performance, definitely one to watch out for.
Rotting Christ, legends of the Greek black metal scene, were up next. They were once again astounding as they played a good mix of songs, old and new. Having already seen them in Leeds the night before I was a little disappointed that they missed out Threnody, but you can't always have everything you want!
Unlike the previous gig Rotting Christ were plagued by sound problems and a broken guitar string. It didn't affect their performance at all, but did signal the start of problems for the rest of the lineup. A few members of the small crowd in Central Station went forward for Rotting Christ, but you really got the impression that this crowd wanted Bolt Thrower and only Bolt Thrower. A shame as Rotting Christ gave an exemplary performance that was greeted with enthusiasm by the few people who made the effort to move their arses down to the front.
Next up was Benediction and this time I wasn't going to miss them due to chatting crap to my mates! I'm very glad I saw them this time as they are superb! I'm not too familiar with Benediction's material, only having heard two albums, but the two kids down at the front were well into them! This was noticed by vocalist Dave Hunt who seemed overjoyed that such young fans, no more than twelve years old, were so into Benediction's music. They certainly put me to shame! Benediction played a good variety of songs covering most of their discography. I really need to hear more of their albums before they play at Bloodstock in August!
The one thing that marred this set and Bolt Thrower's was the appalling sound quality. It seemed that every band that came on was louder than the last and, believe me, I don't mind that at all! However, when the sound is so loud that it actually makes your ears hurt then I think its time to turn it down. This is something that Central Station really needs to address as I'm fairly certain they were close to, if not over the legal sound limit.
Benediction's set ended and the crowd seemed to be a little more relaxed (beer taking effect?). Everyone seemed to enjoy the Birmingham quintet's set and it had put them in the mood for more classic British death metal. Enter the mighty Bolt Thrower!
Finally the crowd moved forward and, as the intro music came to a close and Bolt Thrower stood ready to pummel our ears with a barrage of sound, the place actually started to look a bit fuller.
The setlist for Bolt Thrower was the same as the previous night in Leeds and, once again, the crowd lapped it up. Without doubt the highlight was once again World Eater. They even managed to get a pit going! By now the crowd was very buoyant and a few people even tried to crowd surf, despite their not being much of a crowd to surf on, much to the delight of a smiling Karl Willets.
Bolt Thrower seemed to be in great spirits tonight, possibly even more than at Leeds. The small crowd didn't bother them and they gave as good a performance as they would have if the hall had been packed.
Once again I should mention that the sound was deafening. At one point the metal roof seemed to reverberate sending waves of distortion back into the crowd. This is the only downside to what was otherwise a great set by a veteran band who seem to be completely overjoyed that people still love their music after 24 years. There's a reason for that guys... you're fucking great!
My only hope now is that its not another nine years before I see Bolt Thrower again! Actually, I also hope my rather muted hearing resumes normal service soon!
Bolt Thrower setlist:
Rebirth of Humanity
At First Light
Anti-Tank (Dead Armour)
No Guts, No Glory