Swedish metal band Wolf were tonight's support band and for someone like me who hadn't seen them before, they put on a great show. From the very outset, guitarist Simon Johansson was giving it his all along with bass player, Anders Modd who seemed to having the time of his life on the small stage.
By the time the house lights down half way through first number, there was an appreciative crowd already forming at the front of the stage, with their fists pointing skywards. Modd did his fair share of encouraging crowd to get involved on the intro to 'Hail Caesar', and the audience did their level best to participate with some seasoned headbangers down the front enjoying the fact that with no bouncers there, they could get within touching distance of the band.
One of their heaviest songs of the night, 'Voodoo', featured some great twin guitar work from Niklas Stålvind and Johansson, although occasionally during their set, the solos would get lost in the mix. 'Steelwinged Savage Reaper' and 'Venom' both get the dandruff flying whilst Johansson and Modd running from side to side entertaining not only themselves but the burgeoning crowd.
After the intro to 'K-141 Kursk' it takes little encouragement for assembled crowd to shout 'Die!', much to the delight of Stålvind, before the band close their set with 'Speed On' – which was simply a final thrash to the finish. The band certainly made some new fans (myself included) and I'll certainly make the point of checking out their back catalogue.
By the time Evile stepped onto the stage at 8:45pm, the venue was considerably fuller than it was barely an hour before. From the offset, this was shaping up to be a great night for the band and the fans, and it didn't disappoint one bit from either side of the crowd barrier.
Opening up with the short instrumental 'Hundred Wrathful Deities', vocalist Matt Drake had a commanding presence as he invited everyone to join their 'Cult' (the first single from their 2011 album 'Five Serpent's Teeth'), much to the delight of the assembled mass. The band stormed through it, with some great twin guitar work on display from Matt and his brother Ol Drake whilst bass player Joel Graham was simply a headbanging mass of hair. This is one of the numbers that will surely stay in the band's set list for some time to come as it's become something of a classic track for the band already.
Matt relishes the fact that this tour celebrates nine years since Evile were first formed (by himself and drummer Ben Carter), and that a celebration of sorts is being discussed for the tenth anniversary in 2013, however, as a prelude to this milestone, the band decided to break from the normal set list protocol and play songs that they haven't played for a while, or in some cases, have never played live before. This shows not only the confidence of the band as a unit in a live situation, but that they also have utmost confidence in their back catalogue.
True to his word, the tracks come thick and fast from this point on. 'Man Vs. Machine' (not played since 2008), 'Metamorphosis' (again, not played for sometime), and the live debut of 'Origin Of Oblivion' makes you wonder why these tracks have been left out in the past, and the audience are just as appreciative of these tracks being aired as they are with more familiar songs like (the ubiquitous) 'Thrasher', 'Eternal Empire' and 'Centurion', the latter of which features a blistering solo from Ol Drake and all of which keep the circle pits going.
The band close the gig with a triple sucker-punch of 'Five Serpents Teeth', 'Infected Nations' and 'Schizophrenia' (which Matt dedicated to all the "crazy bastards", of which there seemed to be a lot present). In fact, you have to feel sorry for the lone security guard trying to keep some kind of control at the front of the stage whilst mayhem ensues all around him in the shape of circle pits and stage-divers.
With the promise of a new album next year, it's safe to say that British thrash is safe in the hands of Evile.
You can catch Evile here:
Thursday 25th October – Academy 3, Birmingham (with support from Wolf)
Friday 26th October – O2 Academy 2, Oxford (with support from Wolf)
Saturday 27th October – Norwich Open, Norwich (with support from Wolf)
Sunday 28th October – Garage, London (with support from Wolf)
Monday 29th October – Cellar, Southampton (with support from Wolf)
Saturday 3rd November – Picturedrome, Holmfirth ('All Hallows Evile' – special Halloween Show)
Saturday 24th November – Leicester Square, Leicester – Amnesty All Day Metal Fest also featuring Foul Body Autopsy, Entity plus many more (All proceeds go to Amnesty International Leicester and the Sophie Lancaster Foundation)
Wolf's Set List:
Make Friends with Your Nightmares
Full Moon Possession
Steelwinged Savage Reaper
Evile's Set List:
Hundred Wrathful Deities
Man Vs. Machine
In Dreams of Terror
Origin of Oblivion
Five Serpent's Teeth
Niklas Stålvind – Vocals, Guitar
Anders G Modd – Bass
Richard A Holmgren – Drums
Simon Johansson – Guitar
Matt Drake – Vocals/Guitar
Ol Drake – Guitar
Joel Graham – Bass
Ben Carter – Drums