Metal Hammer Halloween Party
Black Spiders / Huntress / The Defiled / Heaven’s Basement
29 October 2012
Islington Academy, London
Once again Metal Hammer, with the help of Hobgoblin and Kraken Rum, put together an evening of Halloween themed fun for the bargain price of £3.50. With Hobgoblin at £2 a pint and a Kraken mixer £1.50 this had the potential to be a very messy event. The evening also included a fancy dress competition and some in between band horror themed magic.
Kicking things off, Heaven’s Basement had raided a fancy dress store and took the stage to the Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in the appropriate costumes. Frontman Aaron Buchanan joked that they were going to come as famous dictators but decided that might not be politically correct.
The soundman appeared to be on a mission to deafen us this evening and opener Unbreakable suffered somewhat as a result, with things starting to find a balance during Can’t Let Go. Buchanan, with microphone in one hand and cable in the other, skated around the stage like a dalek whilst belting out an impressive Fire, Fire, which fortunately didn’t cue the fire alarms going off as they did when the band supported Halestorm here recently.
The band’s set is packed with massive hooks and whet the appetite for their full length album due early next year. Livewire, drummer Chris Rivers was first to dispense with his costume, stripping down to his bare chest to the delight of the ladies. Though when Buchanan removed his jacket, his comedy shirt made him look like Timmy Mallet. The singer then dispensed with his yellow trouser, finishing up singing powerful closer Executioner’s Day in his boxer shorts!
Heaven’s Basement setlist:
Unbreakable / Can’t Let Go / Fire, Fire / I Am Electric / Reign On My Parade / Executioner’s Day
Huntress were the only band tonight not to take the fancy dress route, though when you have a frontwoman who joined a coven at the age of fifteen it’s not really needed. Jill Janus was indeed bewitching, absolutely commanding the crowd’s attention. Dressed in “leave nothing to the imagination” skin tight clothing she prowled the stage unleashing unholy screams, absolutely zoned in on her performance.
Seeing the band live, Huntress make far more sense with a level of intensity that’s not fully captured on their Spell Eater album. The band are somewhat overshadowed by Janus’ presence, so it’s a clever move when the frontwoman pulls the hood of her cape over her head in some of the instrumental sections. Not only did that create a ghostly presence but allowed your attention to shift to an incredibly tight band. Later she employed a similar tactic, disappearing behind her cape like a bat wings.
For Snow Witch, Janus emerges in a horned head dress with a crescent moon centre piece, announcing “I want to take you all with me to the Arctic Sea”. A mournful guitar refrain ushered in the song over a mid-paced doomy riff before the pace picked up and Janus’ used a variety of vocal styles like a female King Diamond. Eight Of Swords, complete with unholy opening scream, brought an impressive set to a close.
Senecide / Spell Eater / Children / Snow Witch / Night Rape / Eight Of Swords
Any confusion why Jimi Hendrix’s Foxy Lady was heralding the arrival of The Defiled was quickly resolved when the band arrived on stage in drag. “We’re The Defiled and we’re very f**king sexy” shouted frontman Stitch D as they launched into Call To Arms. The description chaos works on a number of levels with the usual onstage anarchy mirrored by the band’s relentless attack. The AvD had already thrown his keyboard over his head before the first chorus whilst the PA struggled to cope and ears were left ringing.
I must confess at this point a quick convenience break took longer than I expected when on my way back I discovered Huntress members Jill Janus, Blake Meahl and Ian Alden were conducting a meet and greet at the merchandise stand. The three were more than pleased to chat and whilst Janus may seem possessed and scary on stage, she is anything but off stage. By the time I returned The Defiled were wrapping up their set to an enthusiastic crowd response, with friends assuring me they had been very good.
The Defiled setlist included:
Call To Arms / The Resurrectionists
Remarkably tonight was my tenth sighting of the Black Spiders. With the previous nine mainly based around their excellent Sons Of The North album, it’s quite refreshing that some of the fruit of their work towards album number two was aired this evening.
Greeted by a noisy Hobgoblin and Kraken fuelled crowd, the whole band were made up in voodoo inspired black and white face paint. The set kicked off with the familiar stomp of Si, El Diablo with bassist Adam Irwin swinging his low slung bass close to the heads of the gathered photographers. A new song, whose name I was unable to catch indicated that there’s been no massive shift in the band’s musical style before we were back to the familiar Stay Down. As ever, the song was paused for frontman Pete Spiby to garner a “F**k You Black Spiders” shout from the crowd.
Continuing to mix up the set with new and old, there was a real air that the Black Spiders could be on the verge of moving up a level when their new album lands and they easily took on the role of headliners at this event.
Black Spiders setlist:
Si, El Diablo / New Song (Wolves?) / Stay Down / Cock Fight / Dead Sleep / St. Peter / Just Like A Woman / Kiss Tried To Kill Me / Kill Your Friends