Sat 1 May – Bolt Thrower, Rotting Christ, Benediction, The Rotted, Ancient Ascendant
5pm outside the ULU and a bedraggled line of motley fans are weathering the torrential rain. Some are even sheltering under a khaki tarpaulin found on site and held at arms length above their heads. When the doors finally open, there is a mad rush to the merch stand where piles BoltThrower paraphernalia is snapped up by rabid fans and enthusiastic ebayers (Bolt Thrower merch can only be found at gigs which are rare and usually sold out so it is not unknown for shirts to exceed the £50 mark on certain auction sites).
The first band to begin a night consisting of five live acts is London based progressive death metal band Ancient Ascendant who impress as a support act and prove that it is not just their locality, but talent that has resulted in them being added to the bill. A band to watch for those with interest in local death metal.
Previously known as Gorerotted, Rotted changed their name in 2008 and released album 'Get Dead or Die Trying' to mark their progression in sound. Now their subject matter has changed from deathgore to a more diverse sound drawing from punk, death and black metal as well as including lyrically relevant songs such as 'Angel of Meth' which stemmed from the singers experience of climbing on top of the tour bus stark naked as it was speeding down a motorway and falling on his head when jumping back in, resulting in an irreparably damaged spine. They provide one of the night's highlights by orchestrating a death-metal conga line in place of the usual cliche'd wall of death. A good performance but sound problems lent the band no favours.
Hailing from Athens, Rotting Christ immediately set the standard incredibly high and from the first chord numerous punters are sucked from the bar into the venue. The uninitiated are wowed by the incredibly heavy and yet melodic sound Rotting Christ produce. With a style that encompasses Star Wars-like marches, technical solos and a bass line that hits you right between the eyes, Rotting Christ are highly deserving of their status as a fine Black Metal band.
Benediction need no introduction, the death metal titans formed in 1989 and are still as popular today as they were in the 90s. Known for being fantastic live, they certainly deliver in spite of technical problems (which were riddled throughout the entire night) resulting in them playing most of the set with only one guitarist. The crowd delivered a terrifyingly brutal moshpit peppered with crusty punks and punches being thrown at full force.
Tonight, Bolt Thrower have drawn an audience from Ecuador, Hungary and Norway among several other rather distant countries. This twenty-fouryear old death metal assualt are literally worshipped by their fans, this was duly illustrated by one of the countless stage invaders of the night renacting the "I am not worthy" scene of Waynes World. The crowd writhed with crowd surfers and people greiviously injuring themselves in a mosh that surpassed any I have seen. Stage invaders almost inundated the band yet lead singer Karl Willetts merely laughed, shrugged off the windmilling fans and not always successful stage diving. 'Cenotaph' and 'No Guts, No Glory' go down a strom in a balanced set which leaves the audience with much more than they paid for and a neat collection of bruises.
Overall, a show that results in little discontent, a man reportedly losing control of his sphincter during Benediction and a Mary Poppins style stage diver with an open umbrella during Bolt Thrower. Ten out of ten for an evening well spent!Gigjunkie review in full