Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Live Review #011: "EdinbURGH", w/ Bonesaw, Ninkharsag, et al.

Of the live-reviews I've written, this one probably involves the most obscure bands thus far. Obscurity is not, of course, synonymous with low-quality, and of all of the shows which illustrate this fact, this may well have been one of the best. Indeed, this review highlights some of what are, and were, my favourite metal bands from around the UK. Initially, owing to it's relative obscurity, perhaps limiting its interest to the metal community at large, I hadn't planned to review this, but as the dust settled after Bonesaw's set - Bonesaw's last ever set - as I thought about it, I realised that yes, writing a review seemed the thing to do. Not only because it demonstrates that the depths of the underground can put on some of the best shows in metal, but also because many of the bands involved, obscure as they are, should be of interest to the metal community at large.

Black thrash band Nolti Nan Gana Nan Nolta were the first on. They were the promoter's band, and, as it happens, are also the band that I'm in. Consequently, it's not really my place to attempt much of a public analysis of how their - our - set went; that was for the crowd to decide. I quite simply did my best to deliver a good show from behind the drum-kit, and pleasantly, things went quite well. Our performance ended with a feeling of general positivity, an anticipation of the evening yet to come, and a thirst for beer. The most positive sign of things to come was the sheer number of people who were already arriving in the crowd so early; more than the total-attendance of some shows I've seen in the same venue, and definitely a substantial number of people. The Banshee Labyrinth where "EdinbURGH" was held is the epitome of an underground venue; hidden, tiny, at times cramped, but likewise home to some of the best shows I've ever seen, and a true physical cornerstone of the local metal scene. Tonight, it would later emerge, was to be no different, and the numbers present foreshadowed the crowding to come. 

Second up were Newcastle old-school death-metal outfit Live Burial, who deliver some of the meatiest, filthiest old-school goodness out there. Undulating, powerful riffs with a thick and unique tone, accompanied by cavernous vocals. The sound front-out-house isn't quite perfect, but the essence of the bands work comes through clearly, with lengthy, substantial death-metal tracks energising the crowd and appealing to the sensibilities of anyone with a love of everything from crushing Swedish death metal to the from-the-gutter nastiness of Autopsy or the hammer-blow of Asphyx, all delivered tightly and comfortably. Live Burial can claim ownership to some of the best riffs in the business.

Evil Blood have been more-or-less going since 1982, and they show no signs of slowing down. Indeed, I certainly consider them among the underground's true hidden gems, and with each performance they demonstrate why. Their set revisits plenty of their classics; "Malevolent Warrior", "Kill With Napalm", "Midnight in Sodom" and the like, but also delivers new material which manages to stay true to the spirit of the band, something which many of the far larger bands with similarly long careers cannot do. The band's evil, Venom-inspired thrash enthuses the crowd well, and while the guitar cuts-out at one point, it somehow manages to sound like it was meant to - heck, as far as I know it might actually have been intentional - which very much limits any impact the mishap might have had. In short, Evil Blood once again re-affirm why they're superb.

While Evil Blood tidied up their equipment, and Tommy Concrete and the Werewolves set up theirs, I attempted to run up the hill to buy something for supper. Unfortunately, I didn't consider the fact that I would also have to eat said supper before returning to the venue. The price - missing the first few songs that Tommy Concrete's lycanthropic gang unleashed. Fortunately, I did catch the majority of their set, and as ever, they bring a ferocious, sublimely dirty d-beat metalpunk oldschool-thrash inspired attack upon us all, motoring along like a punk lawnmower. As someone who appreciates d-beats and leering old-schoolery, their set was consumed with every bit as much relish as the kebab which kept me outside had done moments earlier.

Ninkharsag are, I gather, the head-liners officially, and while I suspect more people were drawn here to witness Bonesaw's last ever show, there is no doubt whatsoever that Ninkharsag earned the right to sit at the top of a bill like this. Their atmosphere and execution is flawless; wreathed in dry ice and commencing a true-to-the-second-wave black metal onslaught with all of the regal magnificence, malevolence and majesty offered by the best their peers in the genre. The serious, dark, brooding style with which the band conduct themselves grants the set a presence and aura which many bands strive to achieve, and many, indeed, fail to. Their forty-minute journey into the pits of hell feels earnest and legitimate - this is a band to whom black-metal is serious business, but they manage to keep it such without falling to the dime-a-dozen clich├ęs which infest the thousands of bands who are simply playing at being Mayhem. Ultimately, Ninkharsag's live show backs up their studio work in suggesting that they are one of the great forces to be reckoned with in the UK scene.

And so onto Bonesaw. Bonesaw are, truly, what an underground band is all-about; soldiering on for fourteen years not for money, not for prestige, but for the love of metal, and there is no calling more earnest than that. They are integrity incarnate. I've seen the band countless times; in Aberdeen from whence they came, in Glasgow, in Edinburgh, and every single time they delivered a fantastic show. No sound-check, no fucking-around, they go up on stage, and they do what they do best. This night is no exception, and they blast through a set of grimy, nasty, down-right-filthy old-school death-metal inspired by Autopsy. Every track sends the crowd into greater fits of chaos and abandon; pits happen in a room not-much bigger than the one I'm sitting in right now - there's even crowd-surfing, as best the low roof will allow; the behaviour of a crowd giving their all to a band who are giving it their all, for one last time... and what a time it was. 

A relatively long set and several encores later, business is concluded; the background music comes back on, and as the equipment is packed-away and disassembled, so too is Bonesaw itself. It has truly been an honour to play on the same shows as the band on so many occasions, and their music has truly been a gift - a gift which will last forever - to the local scene, and the wider world of death-metal. The sorrow of seeing such a fantastic band play for the final time is blended with the joy of seeing a fantastic performance, the capstone on an already extremely enjoyable gig. It was fantastic to see so many people, and I very much hope that Bonesaw received the send-off they deserved.

Fantastic to the end. A band that will be greatly missed by the metal community.

Bonesaw on Facebook
Bonesaw on Metal Archives

Ninkharsag on Facebook
Ninkharsag on Metal Archives

Tommy Concrete and the Werewolves on Facebook

Evil Blood on Facebook
Evil Blood on Metal Archives

Live Burial on Facebook
Live Burial on Metal Archives

Nolti Nan Gana Nan Nolta on Facebook
Nolti Nan Gana Nan Nolta on Metal Archives