Bit odd that there was just the one support tonight and they were not on for well over an hour after the doors opened. Anyone would think there was a lack of bands up for playing, especially as the one that was is Ancient Ascendant again. I’m not blaming the band or anything and do quite like them but they are on FAR too many bills at the moment and have totally overplayed themselves of late to the point that seeing them is unfortunately getting boring. Nothing wrong with what they do, they delivered a good album earlier this year in the form of ‘Echoes And Cinder’ and tonight merge elements of melodic death with thrash and some classic metal nuances. There’s a powerful chunky sound about it and Alex Butler’s vocal rasps hit the spot but the audience is on the whole unmoved apart from one guy at the front who is acting like he has just mainlined PCP. Perhaps everyone’s waiting for something with a bit more grit, hell a crust punk band would have been just what we needed here. Applause is quite respectful and the band continue to snarl and whiplash away, injecting a bit of Carcass at their grooviest into things. Songs like Patterns Of Bane are summarily trotted out but there’s a spark missing, it’s a bit too workmanlike and even the speed head is standing still now. Sorry but no other way to say it, Ancient Ascendant really NEED to stand away and not open a London show again for at least 6 months whilst they explore new crowds and territories, it will do them and us no end of good and I’m sure after a break we will be happy to see them return.
Vallenfyre are completely the opposite and hardly ever play and it’s been just over a year since I last caught them wreck Damnation Festival in Leeds. Fuck me this is absolutely battering were my first thoughts as they launched into things with ‘Scabs.’ It might not have been the big Swede behind the drum kit but Waltteri Väyrynen who apparently was could certainly hit things hard. Oof it was like having the wind knocked out of us and at the front it was a case of feeling like you were literally being slapped in the face which we were by Gregor Mackintosh’s formidable dreadlocks. After being flattened by the first couple of numbers the singer pauses to introduce ‘Odious Bliss’ a song about his drinking problem and thanks to the fuzzing bass sound and hammering drums I realise that what’s left of my pint has reverberated off the shelf it was on and fallen on the floor, thanks chaps!
The band are pretty much a blur of motion at times especially Gregor and Scoot. The guitarists Hamish Glencross and Sam Wallace are dug in at either side of them but they pack the stage and keep things constantly moving; it’s just a bit of a surprise that the audience were not causing damage too; this should have had people launching themselves off the stage like lemmings. There’s some good in between song rants, one aimed at God before ‘Cathedrals Of Dread’ is particularly caustic and biting, as its spat out with disgust and vitriol. The twisting turning riffs on songs like ‘A Thousand Martyrs’ really sound excellent and although I don’t want to knock a band like At The Gates comeback as far as I’m concerned this blew the piss out of their new album. ‘Bereft’ slows it down to a doom laden craggy morass crawling and stalking forward with foul and fetid intent. By complete contrast ‘Instinct Slaughter’ is short and savage giving us a full on battering savage death thrash of a number. With just the two albums behind them the band were giving us pretty much most of the tracks in quick succession. ‘Humanity Wept’ hits like an old bruising Broken Bones number and ‘Seeds’ a song that’s a tribute to the singers departed father is a fitting funeral dirge with a rabid howl of angst.
I should perhaps mention the self-described “grim Northern monkeys who could hardly string a sentence together” were playing in near dark with just backlights. Photo wise it was like trying to pick off badgers in a Yorkshire culling exercise; point and shoot when you see the whites of their eyes. Maybe ‘Cattle’ with a stun gun even as that lethal song is furrowed out with full on Doom punk crust excellence. Racing towards the finished line they gave their all and finished it in style with ‘Splinters,’ no gods, no masters and no encore necessary in the slightest. Annihilation achieved with a belting set!
(Review and photos © Pete Woods)