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Re-Armed at Shades, Bridlington

Review: Shades Nightclub: Re-Armed, Wretched Soul, Bharghest, Teras, Mørktår and Deformation Of Man.

Photos by Nico Davidson

Sometimes you just get thrown in at the deep end. Other times you plunge in willingly. Such a thing occurred to me when I agreed to review a six-band metal gig at Shades in Bridlington. Despite worrying if my writing skills might be a little rusty, and my knowledge of Metal being limited to the range I've experienced via various Metal-loving friends, I decided to take that willing plunge.  Arriving and finding the venue tucked into an unassuming corner with a sea view, I am welcomed and led down into the long-yet-compact nightclub that is about to witness a whole lot of metal. 

First up on the bill is Deformation of Man, a band hailing from Sheffield and bringing with them gravelly vocals, sometimes with an audible Yorkshire accent, which personally I find to be a nice touch. This band grab attention right from the start, bringing to the stage a tight line up and buckets of energy. This is teamed with aggressive riffs and punching drumbeats, rolling alongside a bass part that at times can almost hint at a tiny edge of funk. With a sound not dissimilar to Chimera, this band would fare well in a more prominent support slot, and the best of Yorkshire luck is wished to them! Their self-titled album is available for free on their band page. 

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Next to take the stage are Mørktår, a misanthropic black metal band from London that take to the stage complete with more black leather, spikes and black and white face paint than you could even wish to shake a stick at. The set is thunderingly paced, and to me conveys the feeling that yes, the apocalypse is coming, you're in the middle of it, and it may well be your job to save everyone, so good luck!  The doom-laden tracks have plenty of weight to carry themselves, and the stage presence held by the band, and the vocalist in particular, is certainly a treat to experience. The last song sports a dramatic pause in proceedings towards the end, which thoroughly communicates the band's will to not just play, but perform, and not mess around in doing so.

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Round three brings us Teras, who describe themselves as "heavy metal.... a bit meaty doomy". Their deeper description also cites them as "an explosive combination of metal" and I have to say that is bang on the mark. Hull-based and full of energy, Teras put real drive into their performance. Headed by Dom Mooney on lead vocals and a five string bass, they smash their way through a set that literally sends the drum kit rocking, and features such antics as the guitarists coming together to play each other's guitars during one song, a little barging on stage, and a guitar strap working its way loose (perhaps the metal was too heavy?).  Incorporating some engaging backing vocals and one entirely instrumental track, Teras instilled energy into the audience, and brought about the start of the night's movement on the dance floor with their thrash-esque shredding and boundless intensity. 

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The fourth offering of the night comes in the form of Bharghest, who sport a few differences to the other bands on the bill. Firstly they've had to travel the least distance, having only come from Scarborough. Secondly, they currently feature no vocals, which in this case can't really be called a bad thing, as this way the effect of the complex instrumental composition hits you full in the face. Like getting slapped with a prog metal fish. In a good way. The third anomaly is that Bharghest have no drummer, instead running a programmed drum track using the programs cubase and superior drummer. Again, this can in no way be called a flaw, as the pace of their tracks have the potential to turn even the hardiest drummer into a panting pile on the floor, and the drum parts blend cleanly into the music. The on-stage rapport between the three musicians (Simon Scott, Paul Maddison and Dave Worth) is highly enjoyable, as they are not shy in showing their passion and joy for what they are playing, and time is filled well despite both guitarists' needs to switch between guitars (some custom) for some of the songs. The tracks themselves are well composed and intensely fast, melodic whirlwinds that kept the dance floor busy, a situation only in part due to the small crowd of fans who had followed Bharghest from Scarborough. Needless to say, the powerful and atmospheric tracks went down a storm with the audience, and many an aching neck was due the next day for both band and crowd. Bharghest laid a fantastic groundwork of energy in the club for the final support and headliners, and are most certainly a local band to keep your eye on. 

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The main support slot of the night was taken by Wretched Soul, who have been supporting Re-Armed on their current tour. This thrash/death metal group, hailing from Canterbury, take to the stage with bags of drive to spare. With none of the band sporting less than shoulder length hair, the head spinning that accompanies their buffeting tracks must have been enough to provide the band with their own air conditioning. The lead vocals took a different route to the previous bands, a mix of singing and screaming that blend together impressively. The lead vocalist Chris Simmons takes an active role in the performance, leaving the stage area to stride around the front of the dance floor with the audience, creating a strong and memorable presence for the band. Wretched Soul's tracks instil plenty of movement and energy into the crowd, with their album's title track "Veronica" creating some crowd involvement that the audience were more than happy to get roped into.

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 It is easy to see why Wretched Soul have been touring with Re-Armed, as the two fit together very well.  The headline act bring a stupendous and raging end to the gig. Modern death metal all the way from Finland, Re-Armed's new album is due for release in January 2014, and if the rest of the tour was anything like this gig, I imagine it should sell very well. The enthusiasm of the crowd having been driven to full boil by this point, the lead vocalist Jouni Matilainen makes full use of the room, and his wireless microphone's capabilities. Not content with merely making his way in and out of the crowd numerous times during songs, he also makes a small venture to the bar top. Couple this with the bassist wandering into the crowd and spending some time playing on the floor, as well as an audience member being lifted to the ceiling for a brief Spiderman impression, and you end up with an electric set and a thoroughly enthused crowd. Re-Armed's screaming solos and pounding basslines teamed with their pure unfiltered energy makes them a headline act well worth seeing, and I'm sure I speak for a fair few people attending when I say we hope to see them again.

All in all, my first experience of a metal gig certainly didn't disappoint.  And the moral of the story? If you don't want people on your ceiling, don't invite crowds from Scarborough!

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