One of the more hidden gems of the Manchester metal scene played host to a night of vibrantly brutal music on Armistice Day, and despite unfortunate circumstances preventing original main support act Hang the Bastard from performing, this was to nevertheless be one of the more entertaining evenings yet seen this winter.
Just a couple of weeks removed from opening the proceedings at the crushing Bloodshot Dawn Sound Control gig, Bury metallers Foetal Juice were back with their frenetic blend of aggression and coarse subject matter. Despite going on stage early in the night and therefore only having a fraction of the eventual audience they proved energetic and popular enough that a small pit broke out almost instantly. Blasting through numbers like the drum heavy ‘Service Station Masturbation’ and ‘Big Trouble in Little Vagina’, Foetal Juice set the tone in terms of energy for what the crowd could expect later on. The set ended with ‘Albert Grindstein’, already a signature track whose hilarious music video was released just a few days ago.
Well regarded Merseyside moshers SSS took to the stage next and though their thrash crossover sound proved enjoyable, the experience was somewhat dulled by how muted things seemed to be. Compared to Foetal Juice this was a fairly quiet set, but having said that there was some great musicianship on display. Focusing on their latest release Limp, Gasp, Collapse, this was very much a no nonsense performance with little in the way of banter other than half-hearted album hype and appeals to purchase at the merch stand. ‘Beige’ and ‘Dismantle a Dream’ were highlights here, but everything could have used turning up a notch.
Taking things in a completely different direction, Swedish rockers the Graviators exploded into a set that reeked of Sabbath odes. Every facet of the band’s sound seemed specifically tailored to evoke a Master of Reality vibe from the fuzzy guitar and bass tone to the vocal effects utilized by front man Niklas Sjöberg. Right from the start of ‘Narrow Minded Bastard’ it was clear that these guys know how to create a real atmosphere, and like the iconic quartet whose sound they emulated this ambience was rooted in consistently solid riffs and outstanding energy. You can find hints of Sabbath in every metal performance but such a specific reworking of the old sound was ironically quite unique to observe, at least outside of a stoner metal gig. This was a truly brilliant performance to watch.
As soon as the headliners began their set the room went crazy. The new incarnation of the legendary Gothenburg act benefited from a much fuller sound than all of their supports and the thunderously thudding nature of the music proved delightful. Crowd members came up onto the monitors to stage dive throughout the night, all the while encouraged by a grinning Lars. Moshpits broke out at every turn and in between the crushing music the humble front man was engaging in tremendously humorous banter with the fans and chugging a seemingly endless supply of beers.
First album classics ‘Revel in Flesh’ and ‘Left Hand Path’ were received vociferously by an enthusiastic audience, while ‘Second to None’ had the place in near frenzy. Despite being one guitarist short the sound never seemed to suffer, and throughout the set Lars took it upon himself to move off to the side of the stage so that solo shredder Nico Elgstrand could feature more prominently. After leaving the stage briefly the band came back out for a couple of encore numbers and the rebellious guitarist came equipped with a lit cigarette, taking drags in flagrant disregard of the indoor smoking prohibitions in a display of good old rocking non-conformity.
This venue certainly seems to produce consistently energetic shows and tonight was no exception. The latest chapter in one of extreme metal’s greatest stories put on a hell of a show that had every head in the place banging furiously. We would all feel the affect of this one the following morning, and we won’t soon forget the fun we had at Roadhouse on a cold November night.
Review: Michael Dodd