I had already decided this was destined to be an interesting night, just with the mix of bands in the line-up. I had sneaked in the back door but had already noticed a sizable crowd gathering around the front a whole hour before doors were due to open.
In the next hour this crowd pretty much doubled in size so when opening act, Denver Thrash Metallers Havok hit the stage they were met with a very respectable sized audience. Greeting everyone with "What's up Plymouth? It's time to party!", was the only encouragement needed and by the second song, 'Fatal Intervention', there was even a bit of a pit starting to form.
For a first visit to Plymouth they were certainly making a big impression and having no difficulty warming up the crowd. There were a noticeable number of Havok fans at the front who knew the songs and were more than delighted as they announced: "This is a song about driving wasted and smashing your face through the windshield. This is D.O.A.!" This track reactivated the pit and they quickly followed it with 'Covering Fire', another crowd pleaser. Ending with 'Afterburner', Havok went out on a high note with the crowd wanting more.
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Staying with thrash but changing continents, next up and maintaining the party atmosphere were Angelus Apatrida from Spain. Opening with 'You Are Next' from their new album 'The Call' and following in rapid succession with two more new tracks, 'At The Gates Of Hell' and the excellent 'Blood On The Snow', both very popular with the crowd.
This they followed with the title track from their previous album 'Clockwork' before returning to the new material with 'Killer Instinct'. At this point guitarist/vocalist Guillermo takes a momentary pause, asking: "Are you enjoying the night so far?" and causing the crowd to erupt further by also asking if they liked beer!
Next, another new track, 'Fresh Pleasure', before ending their set with two more from the 'Clockwork' album. 'Blast Off' and 'Legally Brainwashed'. It was good to see such a technically excellent and talented band being well received and to see a couple of people wearing Angelus shirts in the crowd.
The final support act of the night was the band I was most looking forward to seeing, New Orleans' blackened death Metallers Goatwhore and I for one was not disappointed.
The change of genre brought a change of atmosphere, more serious and intense but still equally enjoyable. There were a noticeably large number of Goatwhore fans. And vocalist Ben was constantly in contact with the audience, knuckle bumping with the enthusiastic crowd throughout the set.
Opening with 'Collapse In Eternal Worth' from the new album 'Blood For The Master' and maintaining the frenzy with older material 'Black Art Of Deception', 'Carving Out The Eyes Of God' and 'Alchemy Of The Black Sun Cult' before returning to the new album again for 'When Bone And Steel Meet' and 'Judgement Of The Bleeding Crown', finally ending their set with another older song 'Apocalyptic Havoc' with the crowd yelling for more.
I start to wonder at this point how headliners 3 Inches of Blood could compete with what hit the stage before them but the reception they were met with answered that question for me.
They also choose to open their set with a new track from their new album, 'Leather Lord' and alternate throughout their set between old and new. It was clear from the reactions that the audience had made themselves well acquainted with the new material.
'Deadly Sinners' was followed by 'Metal Woman' and at this point a healthy looking mosh pit had developed. Continuing on with '4,000 Torches' from the new album and 'Battles And Brotherhood', an older favourite, crowd participation continued at a good level.
Ending with 'The Goatrider's Horde', '3 Inches Of Blood' left an ecstatic crowd begging for more.