Opening the evening’s proceedings with a big dirty throb, Portland’s Lord Dying dominate the stage with the aplomb of a band that have been touring for years despite being relatively new on the scene. I must confess to not having listened to them before tonight and was kicking myself after only two songs for not having bought their much lauded album “Summon the Faithless” when it created ripples upon its release last year. Like a well-oiled and rather sweaty machine, they bludgeon the nicely packed hall with all the bottom end, sweat and grind you could possibly ask for.
With the obnoxious sludge comes a barrage of nasty thrashing and an air of wanton mayhem reminiscent of Tad and Melvins, but always buoyed up with the sort of Orange Goblin/ASG groove that helps bury a riff deep into your brain like a graveyard worm. The gut punch of ‘What is Not… is’ seals the deal and has me reaching for my wallet to nab a copy of their CD from the merch stall before the night is out. These boys are sure to be headlining tours like this before long and you would do well to get yourself acquainted with them here.
The Shrine follow hot on their heels and keep the pace nifty and the sweat dripping with a torrent of wah-wah, whiskey-soaked howling and psychedelic jams. A beautiful blend of Sabbath‘s trippier escapades and Thin Lizzy‘s pounding anthemic presence permeates their set as they saunter through a glorious and vibrant collection of songs. The closing duo of ‘Primitive Blast’ and ‘Nothing Forever’ wallow shamelessly in repeated riffs that ebb and flow with an irresistible bassline underpinning the guitar attack. Beautiful warm Rickenbacker rumbling carries their performance all the way through to the headbanging, windmilling finale and leaves the audience chanting for more.
Red Fang take to the stage looking calm, collected and unassuming – not the monstrous presence you expect from the band that rips out of the speakers when you press play on their latest masterpiece ‘Whales and Leeches’. A crowning glory in their trio of long players and testament to the years they spent honing their craft before their debut ever saw the light of day.
Despite a blistering opening and a comfortable pound through ‘Voices Of The Dead’, the sound is iffy and the bass is lacking presence which throws the band off a little… until ‘DOEN’ kicks in, the sound settles into place and the band really come alive. The room is now packed with devotees eager to watch the new stuff unfold in the live arena just as much as they want to hear the more familiar tracks from their debut and the much-lauded ‘Murder The Mountains’.
A moshpit erupts, dies and erupts again and there is a constant energy from the headbangers, the singers and the swiggers in the crowd. ‘Throw Up’ reassures us the sound has bedded in perfectly and remains thunderous throughout. Bryan‘s vocals here are purposeful and exuberant and the scything guitar builds the momentum as the crowd becomes even more frantic.
The biggest cheer of the night is reserved for the band’s correct pronunciation of “Burr-ming-um” – a rare treat to hear from an American band tipping their hat to the home of heavy metal. ‘No Hope’ is unremitting, vicious and nicely kicks all those Mastodon comparisons in the balls. Admittedly, there are similarities in style here and there but Red Fang are very much their own band and have the swagger and punch of the Ramones with the ferocity of C.O.C. whilst always remaining technically flawless, musically flamboyant and lyrically eclectic.
It is a genuine delight to watch John Sherman matter-of-factly creating havoc and wonder with his neat and compact kit. Four drums including the kick and four cymbals including the high hat would be way too basic for the ego of many a skinsman, but like so many of the best drummers out there, he sounds monstrous and creates more musicality than the stick-twirling Portnoy wannabes on their huge rigs. Molesting the kit with veracity, he is the member of the band that never fails to hold me spellbound as they eat their way through one filthy barrage of riffs after another.
Although whales are pleasing, ‘Sharks’ gets the rapturous reception it deserves and as Aaron Beam takes a tumble the show must go on; he remains horizontal but riffing like a madman. ‘1516’ and ‘Into The Eye’ pulsate and there is barely a pause for breath before ‘Malverde’ has every single head in the room bobbing and a sea of fists pumping away.
The utter frenzy that greets yet another new song (‘Blood Like Cream’) is a welcome sight and triggers broad grins from a band who really seem to be enjoying the gig as much as we are. ‘Wires’ closes the set with the moshpit enveloping most of the room. A brief encore is welcome because these guys cannot leave us without pulling out the ‘Prehistoric Dog’, but thank God it’s only those few minutes because there isn’t a man or woman left in the room that isn’t exhausted and sated. Still one of the best live acts on the circuit, you owe to yourself to get hold of their latest album but more importantly to get in the same room as them when they plug into their amps and let rip.
Photos provided courtesy of Kellie Lock Photography.