A trio of bands prove that underground metal is thriving in the X Factor age
Black Tongue Messiah bring groove. And lots of it. Appreciably the heaviest band on tonight, as always they tread the line between NOLA era Down, thrash and just about every other metal absolutely superbly. Their rumble benefits from the always crystal-clear Scruffy Murphy’s sound and “Fist In The Face Of God” in particular sounds absolutely enormous. “Propaganda Bomb” – apparently set to be the title track of their soon-to-be-recorded new material – outdoes it for sheer menace. Those two songs have been part of BTM’s set for a while, “Into The Pit” is new and revved up, while “Hard Rain” is another recent addition and features a strident riff, as well as perhaps a little more melody than before. “War of Blood” ends things in the way of the apocalypse.
Signs Of Fire announce themselves with the title track of their new EP “Bottom Of The Well.” This track, like just about everything else they play, showcases a band with enormous potential. Heavy rock with huge choruses is never a bad thing and SoF have that in abundance. They also have the confidence to throw Sabbath’s “N.I.B” in so early in their set. It could go wrong, to their credit it doesn’t. They are even better when they stick to their own material, and new track “The Preacher Rains” makes good on SoF’s claim to have Mastodon as an influence. MVM first saw Signs Of Fire in April when they were impressive, six months later and even from there, they’ve matured beyond belief. Who knows where they’ll be in a year? It’ll be worth keeping an eye on.
Likewise Torous have proved over the last few months just how good they are. It scarcely seems possible that a band who formed less than a year ago and has just two singles to their name should be quite this good
Their sound is hard to pin down, they call it Celtic heavy rock, which is good as any reference point. Heavy gigging throughout the last year means that old (if that term fits here) songs like “Crow Road” are delivered with polish, while next release “Tolerate X” is oscillating, dynamic and brilliant – anyone who thought mathematical equations weren’t the subject of great rock songs is wrong. The other of their singles so far “Feed The Fire” is a real highlight, with frontman Marc Malone weaving an intricate riff over drummer Tom and bass man George.
The three piece are pretty good at chucking in a strange cover here and there and tonight their usual thumping take on “Another Brick In The Wall” is replaced by a million miles an hour run through The Misfits’ “Die, Die My Darling,” which is all very well, but it takes something special to make “Heard Through The Grapevine” sound like a heavy metal song. Torous do.
They do something else before closing track “Roll The Tide.” The track builds to a fine crescendo, but it was prefaced with words from Malone which spoke of the importance of nights like this in the X Factor era.
These three bands – and make no mistake all were strong enough to headline – are the absolute antithesis of that horrible, superficial, fake bullshit. The groups here don’t make music to be famous (although maybe one day they will be). They do it because they love it and live it. And it showed.