I must admit that I was a little underwhelmed with the choice of supports tonight, not that I hasten to add I have a problem with either band it’s just that promoters do tend to overbook local groups who are good and reliable a bit too much at times. After all we had only seen Ancient Ascendant here recently supporting Enslaved and I had caught them a few times already this year. I did feel a bit guilty though and realised when I went in and saw Hate merchandise for sale that they would have been here with the headliners if it were not for the tragic death of their bassist Mortifer earlier on the tour.
Ancient Ascendant were well into the swing of things when I got in and as ever were a reliable force to warm up the audience with their hefty deathly tumult. Those in for the start seemed to be enjoying themselves too and there was no doubt that the Reading mob were a good match for the headliners. Again the fact that they are not all about brutality but have a nice technical edge to their sound shone through and they pummelled away admirably getting load yells of encouragement between songs. Blood Calls from their latest EP had those with and without hair both on and off stage banging their heads and last song Under Ancient Stone had a bit of a rot n roll feel mixed up with a splash of blackened thrashing death and pretty much delivered on all fronts. Despite the feeling of deja-vu there were no complaints really to be made here just take flight and spread your wings a bit further afield.
Bloodshot Dawn were ‘Beckoning Oblivion’ from the off and it seemed like the Portsmouth based band had brought a fair few fans down with them for the ride. Battering away and firing out the chops surprisingly had many pitting on demand and it’s not that often that happens when you basically have an unsigned support act in town. Of course others were not so happy and clung to the walls rather than ending up wearing their expensive drinks but the young uns in the middle had their brief boisterous fun. Apparently they had a stand in bassist as their normal one was in hospital having something done to their dick, ah boyish humour but Dan the man who took his place did a sterling job and the bands assault did not seem dampened at all. They were a bit workmanlike and a bit meat and potatoes for my liking really to be honest but good at what they do but by the end of the set their chug laden bravado had the pit back in action, so even if many chose to spend time at the bar they went down well enough.
It really was a case of one band that most were here for tonight though and we were well aware that Hypocrisy were going to do everything that bit bigger and better. One look at their speaker set up on the stage had you well aware of just how big and expansive their sound was going to be and a couple of pre-gig listens to great new album ‘End Of Disclosure’ had me really looking forward to this. We had been talking about when Hypocrisy had last played here and looking through many years worth of live review files it would seem that as far as headlining is concerned Peter Tagtgren and his men had last laid waste to this venue it was January 2006 with Nocitferia and Abgott, back even before that it was even further back at the Astoria supporting Dimmu Borgir. I think it is fair to say they don’t play here that often and the swelled audience with many packed at the front and defending their positions steadfastly proved this. It did not make it very easy for taking pictures unfortunately nor did the bands over-reliance of dry ice which was a constant throughout the set.
Musically though they were as expected on top form even if we could not get a view of Horgh battering away at the back. If you had not yet heard the new album you were going to be hearing a lot of it tonight and to set the mood we were taken into things with the first two tracks. The brutally honed ‘Tale Of Thy Spineless’ being particularly vicious getting the pit seething in the process. The old guard were going to be rewarded too though and the shimmering austere intro of ‘Fractured Millennium’ was no doubt what many including myself were waiting for. Always a glorious song it was unleashed with grating roars and fantastic crushingly dramatic sound and really got the place kicking. I seem to have scrawled the words “well-oiled machine” down and that is precisely what we had. One solitary stage diver could not resist the urge (it’s always you isn’t it Jair!) and ended up hitting the audience who promptly dispatched back there much to the displeasure of the stage crew. Taking us way back to 1992 and the first album, ‘Left To Rot was as old school as it gets. Listening to it again now it sounded a lot more polished and cleaner on stage but was still a big meaty bombast of chunk laden metal
From the very old to the very new, not that anyone seemed to be complaining as there is a huge power behind the likes of ‘The Eye’. It is kind of like being caught in the eye of a storm even and was enough to get crowd surfers buoyed up in its grip. It seemed like many knew the words already and if not singing people were keen enough to bounce around in the pit. There was no real time for in between banter but that does not seem to be Tagtgren’s style it was all about getting as many songs delivered in the allotted time and they came thick and fast from the book of the old Necronomicon being opened and allowing hell to spill out to the fantastic new favourite track of the moment ‘44 Double Zero’ cracking necks and powering away with a huge catchy chorus. By now I had found myself at the mixing desk at the back with much needed pint chilling to the slow burn of ‘Elastic Inverted Vision’ before the full steam ahead of ‘Warpath’ took no prisoners at all.
What’s left to say, Hypocrisy were excellent and wore us out and sent us home with a smile on our faces with the likes of ‘Roswell 47’ having us cautiously watching the skies on the way. It might be a few years till the next visit but again I cannot help thinking they would be a very good addition to the somewhat boring and safe Bloodstock line up that we have at the moment.