First up we had Revenant Dead. This local Birmingham band were certainly a lot different from the other thrash bands of the night. They went through all manner of songs, from The Dead Is Here to Perfekt Hate. The Dead Is Here was a wonderful mixture of melodic- and industrial-style metal, but from then on, the music sort of descended into mediocrity. It wasn't particularly bad - just rather monotonous and repetitive. West, the vocalist (who seemed drunk), was more sociable with the crowd than the rest of the band, who spent most of the set with their heads down, concentrating on their instruments (not that that's a bad thing). The audience's reaction wasn't too bleak, but nothing compared to their reaction to the other bands. Leniancy will be given to Revenant Dead's set, however, as the sound wasn't particularly good. Let's face it - the Academy isn't exactly world-renowned for its acoustics...
...Angelus Apatrida. Ever heard of them? The impression at the beginning of their set was that quite a few people in the audience hadn't heard of them. The impression by the end of their set was that they had won over an awful lot of fans that evening... Playing such awesome songs as Corruption, Give 'Em War and Thrash Attack, this band ploughed through an unholy avalanche of fast-paced thrash with skill, precision and enthusiasm. Guillermo Izquierdo is, by far, one of the most brilliant and confident frontmen of any thrash metal act, beautifully handling his guitar and voice, whilst maintaining a good interaction with the audience at the same time. Actually, this entire band was faultless. IS faultless. They are just as good live as they are recorded, and not many bands can boast that. After witnessing this band's performance, it is safe to say that they are one of the most underrated bands on the current thrash scene. Sure - their lyrics aren't particularly ground-breaking and they are typically thrash, but the band's whole...'aura', shall we say...is just phenomenally better than so many other bands'. If you have yet to listen to any of their stuff, pick up an album or go to a gig - you shan't regret it.
WARBRINGER! 'Nuff said...jokes. Don't worry - this review is going to be a bit more in-depth than that. The set list included warsome (excuse the pun) songs such as Living In A Whirlwind, Severed Reality and Combat Shock. As expected, the band were consistently energetic and lively throughout their entire set, never giving up, never backing down and never yawning. Veraciously, it would be total sacrilege to yawn during Warbringer's set - this is a band that has supported Testament in the past, and has now supported Skeletonwitch. John Kevill is an incredibly friendly and powerful frontman, and leads the band perfectly. The guitar skills of John Laux and Adam Carroll are to be neither questioned nor doubted, and with Andy Laux and Nic Ritter providing the harmony and rhythm, the unstoppable force known as Warbringer is complete, and ready to thrash your city. As the Academy 3 is a fairly small venue, the concert was extremely close and intimate, creating an absolutely unforgettable atmosphere and ambience. The musicians were right in your face (literally), giving the audience some wonderful high-five opportunities, and these musicians don't exactly follow the 'we're way too awesome for you' attitude - high fives and handshakes were plentiful! Indeed, words could never fully describe how delightfully relaxed Warbringer were, whilst maintaining concentration on the task at hand. Sadly, these guys only got about a half-hour set, which REALLY wasn't enough for a band this good. Despite initial disappointment at the end of the set, the audience were ready for Skeletonwitch...
...Skeletonwitch - what delightful sprites! They played a nice collection of songs this evening too - Submit To The Suffering, Despoiler Of Human Life, Sacrifice For The Slaughtergod, Stand Fight And Die, Beyond The Permafrost, Repulsive Salvation, Crushed Beyond Dust, Within My Blood... Funnily enough, the crowd for Skeletonwitch seemed smaller than that for Warbringer. Plus, according to many a Facebook comment, quite a few of the audience members seemed to have enjoyed Warbringer more than Skeletonwitch... Why though? There was nothing wrong with the set. The band are brilliant. They didn't exactly mess up in any way this evening. Nevertheless, the audience were still fantastic, and the band more so. Chance Garnette's vocals were harsh, but in a good way, obviously. The guitar work of Nate and Scott was more rigid and rigorous than a calculator with OCD, and Nau and Linger embraced their duties as the musical foundations and built a hard and heavy base. This reviewer pretty much head banged for their entire set. No jokes. Actually, looking around, quite a few people did - they were just so headbang-worthy! Chance took the chance (get that?) to bring up pot whenever possible - this is Skeletonwitch afterall! Talking about weed is the law...plus he was wearing a High On Fire T-shirt. Says a lot. The topic of marijuana is pretty much inescapable at any thrash metal gig. Weed aside for a moment, the band were so incredibly amiable and welcoming! If there is one thing that one can learn at a thrash concert, it is never to judge a book by its cover. We get told it often enough, but until people's personalities can genuinely defy their visual stereotypes, people will still judge based on appearance. So many people who dress / look a certain way act exactly like stereotypes say they should... Although some thrashers are alcoholic pot-heads, most are far from the obnoxious, violence-loving image that the mass media feeds the general population.
Go to a thrash gig some time. It could change your life.