Forbidden / After All
1 June 2009
Camden Underworld, London

My previous encounter with After All, whilst supporting King Diamond in 2006, wasn’t exactly a memorable one. The Belgium band have been putting out thrash albums since 1995 which have hardly set the world a light. However, this year’s Cult Of Sin turned out to be quite an enjoyable listen and tonight’s performance echoed that.

Polite applause greeted tracks such as My Own Sacrifice and Land Of Sin, but interested piqued when frontman Piet Focroul mentioned Betrayed By The Gods featured contributions from members of Agent Steel and King Diamond’s band on the cd. The song itself was a standout in the set and received a good reaction. By Blackest Moon the band’s hard work was beginning to pay off but was undone somewhat by a cover of Holy Diver. Stylistically different to the thrashing of After All, the main problem was that although Focroul isn’t a bad singer, he certainly is no Dio.

In summary it wasn’t a bad set by After All but I can’t see their profile rising much higher than support slots such as these.

After All set list:
My Own Sacrifice / Frozen Skin / Land Of Sin / Devastation Done / Drawn To The Devil / Betrayed By The Gods / Release / Blackest Moon / Holy Diver / Forgotten

I’d seen Forbidden twice previously, once 20 years ago last month and once 19 years ago this month. So it’s fair to say I’d been waiting some time for their return! As it happened that wait was extended by a lengthy sound check, but what’s a few more minutes after 19 years. A section of the crowd chanting “Stick your sound check up your arse” was a bit short-sighted. Good idea guys, let’s do away with sound checks completely and endure crap sound. Mind you we often do!

Forbidden had chosen to air their 1990 album Twisted Into Form in it’s entirety on this European tour and that’s exactly what we got in the correct order for the first part of the set. The instrumental introduction Parting Of The Ways saw the band taking to the stage before launching into Infinite. Frontman Russ Anderson was always a huge presence and, let’s say his presence has grown somewhat over the last 19 years. Mid song he span around on the spot imploring the crowd, “Come on London!” As Out Of Body (Out Of Mind) followed it was apparent Anderson wouldn’t be hitting all the high notes he used to, but his power had not diminished.

Step By Step was the song from the Twisted Into Form album that had the promo video treatment and its familiarity moved the pit action up a few notches. At its conclusion, Anderson noted it had been 19 years and asked who was there. Two people on the stage weren’t. Guitarist Steve Smyth is well travelled having, amongst others, Testament and Nevermore on his CV. Unsurprisingly he fits into the Forbidden line-up seamlessly. The other new guy is Mark Hernandez who appears as a mass of hair due to the fan positioned by his kit. With stints in Vio-Lence, Heathen and Defiance, Hernandez is well versed in Bay Area thrash and is another wise addition.

Following the albums title track and R.I.P., the band get to take a breather as the acoustic piece Spiral Depression is played over the P.A. Tossed Away, like its name, is a song I’d considered more of filler but it was good to hear it given the live treatment. By the time of One Foot In Hell there was a feeling of having nearly made it and it has to be said that on this occasion playing an album track by track constricted the set somewhat and what followed was akin to a cork coming out of a champagne bottle.

Internet forums may question which was the best Forbidden album, but the response to the remainder of the set, which was solely drawn from the band’s debut Forbidden Evil, would suggest that was the preferred disc. March Into Fire was greeted by a huge roar and a frantic pit. Guitarist Craig Locicero, who certainly didn’t look 20 years older, leaned out over the pit mouthing all the words to the song whilst dodging the occasional diver.

Forbidden Evil itself was dedicated to Arcane, tonight’s promoters and having warmed through the set, Anderson’s vocals scaled to reach the high notes of “Your soul will burn!” The twisting bass line of Matt Camacho opened Off The Edge with some very tight twin guitar work from Smyth and Locicero at its conclusion. With the crowd warmed up Anderson indulged in getting them to sing back to him, fittingly before Follow Me. Locicero’s guitar melted into sounding like a revving engine, alerting us that Through Eyes Of Glass was next. Concluding the set we were taking all the way back to the first track from Forbidden Evil, Chalice Of Blood.

This was a very enjoyable nostalgic evening, though I did feel the whole album concept made the early part of the set quite rigid. I was also a little disappointed that nothing from Distortion or Green was played. Although they may not be as revered as the band’s first two albums, Distortion in particular contains some good songs. Forbidden are in the process of writing new material and this Euro trek provided a reminder of the past. We shall wait and see what the future holds.

Forbidden set list:
Parting Of The Ways (Intro) / Infinite / Out Of Body (Out Of Mind) / Step By Step / Twisted Into Form / R.I.P. / Spiral Depression (Instrumental on tape) / Tossed Away / One Foot In Hell / March Into Fire / Forbidden Evil / Off The Edge / Follow Me / Through Eyes Of Glass / Chalice Of Blood

After All