Review by Pete Finn for MPM
It’s with a strong cocktail mix of excitement, inquisitiveness and apprehension myself and MPM photographer Manny hit the road and head into the heart of the Black Country, our destination is KK’s Steel Mill in Wolverhampton.
A venue we’ve been to a few times, Manny is always complementing the stage lighting as some of the best on the circuit, and for me they always seem to have the sound spot on, a ‘Win, Win’ combination, and to complete the ‘Hat-Trick’ the beer is pretty good as well.
On arrival we receive a warm and friendly welcome at the door from Rich ‘Tice’ Taylor, who teasingly says Manny isn’t on the list so can’t shoot tonight.
I mentioned apprehension earlier, personally I find the Thrash Metal scene has a ‘Marmite’ mix of bands, some I love and some not so much, albeit a category that has an abundance of fantastically talented musicians who have developed amazing technical skills. I’ve heard Evile before, although I never seen them perform, whereas Divine Chaos and Tortured Demon are new to me on both counts.
The commercially well-known “Big 4”, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax made the genre popular during the mid to late 80’s and early 90’s, this popularity started to drift away until the resurgence of the genre in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s brought on by bands such as tonight’s Evile.
Tonight, we’re in the second hall, and opening the proceedings are Manchester’s Tortured Demon, formed relatively recently in 2018, in this young (they are all born after 2000) three piece, we have brothers Jacob Parkinson (vocals/guitar), Joe Parkinson (drums) and Freddie Meaden (bass/backing vocals). 2021 saw their self-release debut album ‘In Desperation’s Grip’.
The band calmly walk out to the piano introduction of the title track of their album ‘In Desperation’s Grip’, it’s the first track of their set. Jacob punches you in the face with a huge riff and jaw breaking vocal. The crowd are already nodding along in appreciation, Jacob acknowledges with a show of horns.
Without pausing for breath, that’s both the band and the crowd, we’re into ‘The Invasion’ with Joe smashing every inch of his kit, Jacob sneering like Billy Idol plays his solo with the guitar pointing at the ceiling, drums and bass working together for a pounding beat has the crowd chanting ‘Kill, Kill, Kill’ back, they are lapping this up.
After a guitar change for Jacob, it’s ‘Cold Blood’ the stage lighting turns red, Freddie encourages the clapping with a flick of the hand, the fists are raised, the hair is spinning. The track slows momentarily mid-way and we are exposed to a shuddering beat.
Jacob thanks the crowd for coming out early to see them. The machine gun drum beat from Joe starts ‘Oppressed’, Freddie supports with artillery cannon bass notes. Jacob tells us the next track ‘Cut The Budget…Cut Your Throat’ is about the last two years of frustrations. High Voltage and high energy, there’s a girl at the crush barrier jumping, shaking and head-banging looking like she’s being electrocuted, the gathered audience are loving this performance.
The final track is ‘A Knee to the Face of Corruption’, a bass wash intro and then hypnotic riffs power this track, Joe’s feet are a blur on the pedals, as the set finishes a good cheer shows the crowd have enjoyed the show. The band show their gratitude back.
The future of Thrash Metal will be safe in these young hands. After all, age is only a number.
Setlist: In Desperation’s Grip, The Invasion, Cold Blood, Oppressed, Cut The Budget…Cut Your Throat, A Knee to the Face of Corruption.
Coming from Slough and formed in 2006, Divine Chaos line up with Mariusz Marecki (drums), Craig Daws (bass), Jut Tabor (vocals), Matt Gilmour (guitar) and Chris O’Toole (guitar). They have recorded two studio albums, the last one ‘The Way To Oblivion’ in 2020, and according to their bio “Divine Chaos are here for War”. So let battle commence…
The band get a great reception as they walk out to an Electro/Industrial backing track, a few moments later vocalist Jut Tabor joins them on stage. A few fist pumps and we’re into battle with ‘Suicide Salvation’ the opening track from ‘The Way To Oblivion’, Tabor is prowling the stage, giving those on the crush barriers and the Togs in the pit a ‘Death Stare’.
The power and energy from the band is phenomenal. Matt Gilmour’s guitar is shaking the stage lights, Chris O’Toole’s solo stripping the flesh from your bones.
What an awesome start to a set. Tabor, front and center foot on the monitor, he’s commanding the room as ‘Upon the Shrine’ erupts, the heads are nodding, mic clenched in his fist Tabor call for ‘hands’, a sea of fists are raised, ‘Fuck Yeah!” the response.
The control and power are very impressive, this band are tight. Marecki on the drums, swan like, calm and composed on top, legs going crazy underneath, a brilliant display of skill.
Tabor thanks Tortured Demon for their set, the crowd show their thanks too. Next, we have ‘Murder for Sale’, Craig Daws hammering bassline carrying the clever guitars of O’Toole and Gilmour. Looking around the crowd most are either head-banging or singing along, they are obviously familiar with the band. Tabor has climbed down onto the crush barrier, pouring water over his head.
Tabor asks if anyone has seen Divine Chaos before, a good shout goes up. “Who’s seeing Divine Chaos for the first time?”, smaller cheers, “Ah great, fresh meat” and we’re into the title track ‘The Way To Oblivion’, the track containing an amazing solo from Gilmour, one of the show highlights.
‘Serpents Words’, quick drums from Marecki start the penultimate track. Tabor’s vocal is light-speed fast, the guitarists form a line (no easy feat on the tight stage) as Tabor gets the crowd clapping.
A fast-marching beat. We arrive at the final track from Divine Chaos, ‘Nations Damnation’ a real banger of a track, massive riffs and beats, there’s hair flying in all directions, heads nodding, punching the air in time to the thunderous beats the crowd are enjoying this. KK’s has just taken off.
The set closes to a great cheer, the band punching their hearts in respect of the crowd. A great set, Manny grinning leans over and shouts “They’ve made my skin bleed”, I think he’s enjoyed the experience of Divine Chaos too.
Setlist (Big thanks to Matt for providing this): Suicide Salvation, Upon the Shrine, Murder for Sale, The Way To Oblivion, Serpents Words, Nations Damnation.
Evile were formed in Huddersfield during 2004, these days the line-up consists of original founding member Ben Carter (drums), with Ol Drake (vocals/lead guitar), Joel Graham (bass) and Adam Smith (rhythm guitar). Looking through old posters, I reckon they have appeared at the Bloodstock Festival five times. They have recorded five studio albums, the most recent and eight years in the making ‘Hell Unleashed’ in 2021, and is being promoted on this eight date UK tour.
Smoke is filling the room; the lights go out and squealing feedback announce the arrival of Evile. They open with ‘Paralysed’ from their recent ‘Hell Unleashed’ album, distortion wash into hard drums, power riffs aplenty, Joel Graham’s bass is thumping, it grabs your breath. Ol Drake’s vocal the focal point of the track. He’s dueling with Adam Smith, both grinning at the crowd.
The song finishes and the audience cheer, we get a thumbs-up from Drake, then it’s ‘Killer from the Deep’ from the 2007 debut album ‘Enter The Grave’, the vocal is clear and prominent a more traditional Heavy Metal style, the screeching guitar solo has Drake’s fingers a blur.
Smith is pulling faces, toying with the crowd before leaning forward as he fires out the notes, hair flowing over the front row. As it finishes the crowd start chanting “Evile! Evile!”
‘Head of The Demon’ is taken from the 2013 release ‘Skull’, it starts at a slower, dark and moody tempo with Drake narrating the vocal in time with Carter’s controlling beat. Dare I say it, it has a gentle mid-section, chanting and steady solo.
We have Smith singing some of the lead vocals in places. After a brief mix up, Ol had introduced ‘Gore’ next, he hasn’t got a setlist in front of him, laughing, both Graham and Smith hand him theirs. Actually, next it’s ‘The Thing (1982)’ which sees Evile revisiting their newest album, written about the John Carpenter film of the same name.
A circular steady riff brings the track in, before Smith and Carter launch us into orbit. Heads are nodding as the band cross back and forth like a Battle of Britain Dog-Fight.
We go back in time to the original album for ‘We Who Are About To Die’, this is a near 8-minute epic on the album. I believe it’s about the Gladiators fighting in Ancient Rome’s Colosseum. A haunting Sabbath style intro, Drake’s vocal is steady and almost talking, the riffs and drums are turning and weighing each other up, before the solo initiates the charge together and the start of the full-on battle.
Drake stands in front of his mic, “All we ask is that you join us”, “Cult” is the single cry back from the crowd. “Bang your fucking heads” screams Drake. ‘Cult’ is off of the 2011 album ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth’ a dirty riff starts us going the rhythm section pushes us through at pace. Carter’s drums clean, crisp and ear splitting, the pace and power is ferocious.
The crowd loved it. Some of the band take a few big swigs of Kronenbourg 1664. Sticking with the same album, next we have the title track ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth’, and orchestral sounding intro, similar to a Hammer House Horror film soundtrack, this is quickly dispensed as the machine gun beat of Carter’s drums kick in. A lot faster than the previous track, the beat gets the crowd punching the air. I’m amazed Carter doesn’t need to re-skin his drums between tracks.
‘In Memoriam’, a tribute to former bassist Mike Alexander who died in 2009, completes the trilogy from the album. Graham’s bass is rumbling as the track starts, it’s passed over to a calm guitar and vocal sound, it’s hard to believe that these vocals are coming from the same singer, a real demonstration of a brilliant range and versatility.
Graham’s eyes are closed as he sings along, there is a lot of respect shown in this song. ‘Hell Unleashed’ the title track from the new album, the guttural growling vocal is coming from way down in Hell itself. The pace is frantic. My eyes cannot keep up with the pace of Carter’s feet as they pound the pedals. What a fabulous example of the variation in sounds Evile can produce.
Next, we have the prematurely announced ‘Gore’, again from ‘Hell Unleased’, stage lighting glows crimson, high speed Thrash Metal at its finest. Smith is on the crush barriers captivating the crowd. Without pausing it’s ‘Thrasher’ taken from the ‘Enter The Grave’ album, this track has a very impressive 3.1M plays on Spotify.
A mega-tempo riff and ultra-quick drums from Carter propel this track forward. The angry sounding vocal adds atmosphere. We have the first Mosh Pit, always a real ‘Stamp of Approval’ from the fans for the band performing.
Drake tells us they like to add a song to the set that usually only a few recognize, tonight it’s ‘Decent Into Madness’, we’re back to the 2011 release of ‘Five Serpent’s Teeth’, the pace and ferocity continues, the speed of Carter’s arms is incredible, Ol Drake’s vocal is relentless in its delivery. We slow slightly for a deep brooding riff, before exploding with a solo.
‘Infected Nation’ is the title track from the 2010 album, I guess it’s quite an appropriate addition to the set list in these times. A stop/start track with elaborate tempo changes. Drake’s vocal is up front and in your face. A chanting backing vocal, and well-paced solo add character to the track. They thank the bands that have played tonight and the crowd for the atmosphere they have created.
The ‘Not leaving the stage Encore’ and the final track from Evile is the title and opening track from ‘Enter The Grave’, more quick riffs and drums, squealing solo and powerful vocals. The Moshing starts again, Drake and Smith share the solo as the band form a Quo line, they’re laughing, I think they’ve enjoyed it. A great way to close the show.
Setlist: Paralysed, Killer from the Deep, Head Of The Demon, The Thing (1982), We Who Are About to Die, Cult, Five Serpent’s Teeth, In Memoriam, Hell Unleashed, Gore, Thrasher, Decent Into Madness, Infected Nation, Enter The Grave.
Tonight, has been a brutal assault on the senses, and I have experienced a wide range of styles and songs that sit within the Trash Metal genre, some admittedly I’ve enjoyed more than others, but isn’t that the case with all types of music, or even your own particular favourite band. But what I’ve seen across the board tonight is some very talented musicians execute some very difficult technical skills brilliantly.
It was a great night. You won’t know until you try it, give it a go and you could end up feeling like me and my ears…Buzzing.
Photography by Manny Manson for MPM