DevilDriver, Behemoth, Suicide Silence, Trigger The Bloodshed, Malefice
16 October 2009
Relentless Garage, London

The renovated and newly sponsored Garage re-opened earlier this year, however this was my first visit since seeing After Forever here in January 2006. Whilst there are no major changes to the venue’s layout, it has certainly been spruced up and the few changes there have been appear to be positive.

An early exit from work had to be negotiated due to the 5pm early door time, however on entering the venue I discovered Malefice were not due to take the stage until 6pm. Just prior to then, the five piece ambled out on the stage and stood around for a while looking confused with a lack of sound through the PA. Eventually, frontman Dale Butler asked if we could hear him through the monitors before announcing, “We’re on time but the sound guy isn’t so make some noise for him.” That appeared to be the necessary kick in the arse, as the PA suddenly sprung to life and Malefice tore into As I Bleed.

Permitted very little stage space the band weren’t able to move around much and there was a great deal of foot on monitor action. Continuing with tracks from their latest album Dawn Of Reprisal, The Midas Effect was next, complete with stomping riffs. By this point the energetic Butler was already soaked with sweat as he barked out the songs lyrics. Musically Malefice make a lot more sense to me after this performance. I’d found their latest album a hard nut to crack, but taking in the tight guitar work of Alex Vuskans and Ben Symons, subtle melodies worked there way from the aggressive sound. Much like fellow Brits Sylosis, Malefice showed that the UK has band’s to match up to the Americans in the modern thrash stakes.

Malefice set list:
As I Bleed / The Midas Effect / An Architect Of Your Demise / ? / Dreams Without Courage

Trigger The Bloodshed have been popping up on bills aplenty of late, though surprisingly this was my first encounter with the young Bristolians. Sudden rises in stature in the metal scene are typically met with a backlash and that’s what the band have been contending with. Personally, I chose to listen to the band’s latest album The Great Depression without prejudice and whilst I can hear why it is garnering attention, for my own tastes I find it a bit too impenetrable. Live it’s a similar scenario, though not helped by the fact that the sound is incredibly muddy for half of their 20 minute set.

An answered request for a circle pit during The Dead World lasts for all of about 30 seconds with the majority choosing to listen rather than react to the hyper fast death metal flying our way. What I did take from this performance was the undeniable raw talent the band possesses. Trigger The Bloodshed are a very young band who have seemingly come along way quickly, but they certainly demonstrated that there is bags of potential for the future.

Trigger The Bloodshed set list:
? / ? / The Dead World / Desiccate Earth / The Great Depression

Suicide Silence are one of the few bands from the so called “deathcore” scene that have caught my attention and impressed when I saw them at the beginning of last year coincidentally with Behemoth. With the scene flooded with imitators, the Californians attempted something slightly different with their sophomore release No Time To Bleed. Three quarters of tonight’s set was drawn from that album and included many of the uncomfortable nuances from the record. In fact queuing 50 minutes for the Saw ride at Thorpe Park the other week, the scraping and squealing incidental music piped at the queue reminded me of those little additions to Suicide Silence’s sound.

The heavily tattooed Mitch Lucker bounced up and down on a box centre stage during second song Lifted, flapping his arms oddly like a bird trying to take flight. His inhuman squeeks and bellows may not be to everyone’s taste but they do fit with the tight backing of the band. Unanswered from the band’s debut album got a strong reaction from the crowd who holler the “Where if your fucking God” refrain. In truth, thirty minutes was enough for me but the keen reaction from the crowd was deserved.

Suicide Silence set list:
Wake Up / Lifted / Smoke / Unanswered / Wasted / Disengage / No Time To Bleed / No Pity For A Coward

Behemoth was the main reason for my attendance tonight. It did feel a little strange to have last seen them headline the larger ULU to be seeing them support at a smaller venue. Even allowing for the fact that this gig had a two night residency here, it seemed the willingness to step down to main support was most likely driven to pick up some new fans and surely that was accomplished tonight.

As ever, smeared with corpsepaint that extended to all visible flesh, the Polish quartet looked ready for business and there were some intrigued looks from many watching wearing DevilDriver shirts. Ov Fire & The Void opened the set with a crushing sound before heavy weights Demigod and Conquer All intensified the crowd reaction. It was apparent there was a contingent here solely for Behemoth and much headbanging was occurring at the front of the stage.

This was a very slick performance with the band generally leaving the stage after each song with taped atmospherics. Nergal asked if it was OK for the band to play one or two new songs, but deemed the response far too polite with an observation “You sound fucking gay, let’s hear you!”. Alas, Lord Is Upon Me from new album Evangelion followed before the more surprising inclusion of LAM from 1999’s Satanica.

“Anyone into peace and love will love this next one”, observed Nergal as Slaves Shall Serve flew by with synchronised windmilling of hair from the mainman, guitarist Seth and the moody looking Orion on the bass. Nergal’s appearance on stage wearing a mask meant sadly the set was coming to an end all too soon as Chant For Eschaton 2000 wrapped up the set. Behemoth’s set alone was worthy of attendance tonight but I look forward to some headline shows where the band can stretch out further.

Behemoth set list:
Ov Fire & The Void / Demigod / Conquer All / Alas, Lord Is Upon Me / LAM / At The Left Hand Ov God / Slaves Shall Serve / Chant For Eschaton 2000

Whatever you think about DevilDriver you have to respect them for challenging themselves with the supporting acts tonight. This is however their headline show and the reaction as they took to the stage with End Of The Line emphasised that. Not All Who Wander Are Lost quickly dispelled any thoughts that the Americans were going to be “out-heavied” tonight. With one eye on future shows here I’m hoping the new house PA had a lot to do with the excellent sound.

Having visited each of their first three albums at the start of the set, it was time for the title track of their latest release Pray For Villains. This is one of quite few on that disc that have slowly crept under my skin and it has to be said that over the course of their four albums DevilDriver have assembled a solid collection of songs for a live set. Dez Fafara gets a healthy answer on checking out how many here have followed the band from their beginning, before taking us back to their debut with I Could Care Less.

Aside from that enquiry, the songs seem to fly by with barely a word from the usually talkative Fafara. Towards the tail end of the set, he gives a shout out to each member of the band before conceding, “I’m not into talking tonight, I’m into playing”. Before The Hangman’s Noose then had the crowd bouncing around to the “Good day to die” refrain. Fafara noted London had been good to DevilDriver since day one and as a treat Another Night In London from the new album was played, which the frontman promised would only ever be played in this city.

As a band, DevilDriver seemed very tight and on the ball, especially impressive considering this was the first night of the tour. On this evidence they should hold their own for the rest of the dates and who knows, perhaps sway a few of those who were mainly here for Behemoth.

DevilDriver set list:
End Of The Line / Not All Who Wander Are Lost / Nothing’s Wrong? / Pray For Villains / Clouds Over California / Fate Stepped In / I Could Care Less / Hold Back The Day / I’ve Been Sober / Back With A Vengeance / Before The Hangman’s Noose / These Fighting Words / Another Night In London / Meet The Wretched / I Dreamed I Died

Suicide Silence
Trigger The Bloodshed