PAIN, The Vision Bleak, Dynazty, Billion Dollar Babies @Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton, 25/10/16


A wonderfully eclectic Euro bill. Take that Brexit. 

If you call your band Billion Dollar Babies then you’d best like Alice Cooper. These BDBs probably do too. What’s more Alice would no doubt approve of their sound. There’s a modern, slightly industrial tinge to their brand of hard rock, and they are an interesting proposition. Closing tune “Chemical God” is a mighty slab of noise and not even the early start time and sparse crowd can disguise the fact they are destined for bigger things.

Also from Sweden, Dynazty are unashamedly big. In hair, in sound, in chorus, the five piece don’t do anything by half measures. They’ve two default settings. Fists in the air thumping – helpfully they’ve got a song for this, called “Raise Your Hands” – and soaring. Then sometimes they meld the two, as on the title track to their most recent album “Titanic Mass”, and its hook of “fire, flames, fury” is one which does the business. A band who clearly enjoys what they do, and in Nils Molin one with a frontman who exudes a natural charm, Dynazty are great fun, and you suspect this was their aim all along.

Germany’s self-styled horror metallers The Vision Bleak are a different proposition altogether. In fact you’d never knowingly call them fun. Which is just fine when you take the doom of mid-period Paradise Lost as a starting point, add a touch of Hell, and call it “Night Of The Living Dead”. They are even better still when they add a driving insistence, like on “The Kindred Of The Sunset”. Capable of moments of genuine heaviness, as on “Descend Into Maelstrom” but also moments of rock n roll posturing like “Kutulu!” TVB are superb here. And frankly by the time the gloriously OTT “Wolfmoon” has bid us adieu, anyone who thinks otherwise is just plain wrong and should be made to listen to the mighty “By Our Brotherhood With Seth” until they see sense.

First things first, just to get it out of the way. Yes, Pain main man Peter Tägtgren is wearing a straightjacket, and yes in “It’s Only Them” a kind of alien like thing – in a straightjacket and a Gas Mask – does wander about the stage before being captured.

This, to be fair, is easily explained, given that both are motif’s on the bands recently released “Coming Home” record, but there’s a rather more important point to be made here. Just because there’s about 200 in the crowd on an autumn Tuesday in Wolverhampton, doesn’t mean that you can’t put on a show.

Which is why Pain are so good. Often labelled as an “industrial” metal band – and yes there is a kind of White Zombie feel to the likes of “The Great Pretender” and “Zombie Slam” but in them there beats the heart of a Power Metal band, and all the bombast that goes along with that.

They are also – and this has been the case on each time MV has witnessed them live – far heavier when they are out of the studio, which in turn means that even the more throwaway stuff from the new record like “Designed To Piss You Off” and “Call Me” takes on an urgency in the raw here.

Happy to take some dark turns “End Of The Line”, about a man with HIV trying to infect women, apparently, is suitably creepy, but the set is also capable of some anthemic moments like the new album’s title song.

Even though things are way past the scheduled curfew,  a couple of encores are proffered, and “Dirty Women” slams with all the sleaze you could want, “Same Old Song” gets fists pumping and “Shut Your Mouth” is downright riotous.

It’s not often you see a man in a straightjacket play guitar, but its even less frequent that you see Pain on these shores. That both things happened tonight can only be applauded.

Photo with thanks to Phil Archer

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