Toledo Steel and Blizzen were due to play down the road in Camden, but were added to this package. Desolation Angels pulled out for reasons unknown a week or so prior to the event and Salem UK (of which this was a different incarnation that previously witnessed at Brofest #1) completed the support line-up (although I missed their set).  Grim Reaper were releasing their fifth album ‘At the Gates’ at the Boston Music Room, this is a popular venue for this band fronted by legendary vocalist Steve Grimmett.

Blizzen from Germany start things off and the usual circle of emptiness appears at the front of the stage, no matter how hard and fast these traditional metallers play. But hey, easier for me to see. The sound is pretty good and they are clearly very pleased to be in the UK (having played Southampton the night before). Their music I do so enjoy, I have reviewed both their releases to date on these pages. The live versions of ‘The Beast Is on Your Back’ and their almost signature early tune ‘Time Machine’ pretty much prove mission accomplished as they played in complete association to their image and music, truly metal.

Next up of the bands I witnessed were Toledo Steel, it’s only been a few weeks since I last reviewed them so I won’t be delving too deeply. However, the larger stage at the Boston Arms really suits the band much more than the venue I saw them at last time around, and the sound is much clearer. By now, the crowd were quite vocal and the venue was getting pretty busy. Of course I am going to write that I like this band, I am a fan, especially with those now classic cuts coming out such as their classic ‘Speed Killer’. Toledo Steel once again put on their well-crafted and precise live show. With more material coming soon, well, these are one of the major success stories for this sub-genre in more recent times, long may they reign.

Now, Grim Reaper are true gents and legends of metal music. Coming off the back of a pretty extensive US tour, they are here to introduce their new release ‘At the Gates’ in person. There’s a real earthy feel about this show tonight, a darker presence, the energy as depicted on the said new album comes from within and is burst out of the speakers, feeling much more vibrant that the studio versions. Tracks like ‘Break Neck Speed’ and ‘At the Gates’ go hand in hand with the crowd pleasing classics ‘Fear No Evil’ and ‘Rock You to Hell’. Drums and bass are totally focussed on their job and mission, then you have Ian Nash wielding those sharp British metal riffs and leads, he’s totally calm and making it look really effortless. Steve’s vocals are so powerful, there’s not many like him in the scene. So when their Dio cover ‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’ is aired, well, that hits all the receptors and the vocal delivery is immense. No Grim Reaper show would be the same without the closing anthem and signature ‘See You In Hell’, this really got the crowd pumping, more so for one stage invading punter (who was quickly dealt with by Steve). The jewel of the night was the sing along with the crowd to the song title…the appreciation worked both ways and this was clearly visible.

Quite an early finish for once, but a great show for those who attended. Go and check out Grim Reaper’s new album ‘At the Gates’ which is out now on Dissonance Records.

Paul Maddison