@ Newcastle Riverside, March 6 2011

This is just the beginning for the new Riverside. Trying to push its way into the same bracket as the top dogs of live venues in Newcastle, we needed to see something to test the temperature.

What better way to do so than to have an all day metalfest?

Eight bands would surely test the steel of this up and coming venue. 


If your idea of a jolly good time involves coughing blood while splitting your sides with painful spasms of laughter, then Rat Faced Bastard are for you. Filling a very rare niche in North East music, the grindcore act approached their set in typical grind humour, with song titles fashioned bizarrely and vocals ridiculously incomprehensible.

Despite the garbled, sonic assault their set had a remarkable level of twisted charm that had people won over, especially after a cover of Napalm Death’s You Suffer (the shortest song in the Guinness World Book Of Records) and a somewhat different version of Manowar’s Black, Wind Fire and Steel.

For those who couldn’t hack the intensity, Our Innocence Lost followed up with a much more mellow performance.

Raring to prove themselves with their love-sick, emo-soaked pop metal, the Manchester five-piece did nothing wrong but couldn’t quite muster a storm of interest from the crowd.

They’re easily accessible and tight, but conservative at the same time. An average cover of Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana marked the end of their visit up north.

With touches of electrified, sleazy blues and a rock n’ roll attitude seeping with charisma, Fyreon are a pleasantly deceiving local act picking up pace. If one was to have a stereotypical mentality, you would expect another Within Temptation or Nightwish seeing this female fronted four-piece at first glance, but they’re far from it.

Debi’s vocals have a unique and gruff, raspy quality that drives the raunchy, hard rocking riffs forward with a purpose.

Before the break Convolution raised the bar and returned the metalfest to its heavier side.  The local four-piece smashed an eager crowd into the evening with their convivial pleasantries and progressively maturing sound. Blood Out Of A Stone was brilliantly executed but it was Coils that reaffirmed that excavation is in progress in this mine of talent. Their brutal grooves, occasional rap interludes, tight shredding and hair-raising clean vocal sections are really coming together to give plenty to be excited about in future.

Insylum also resonated a groove metal based sound, but there’s rare thrashy/hardcore moments. With enough energy from frontman Craig Relf alone, they blazed through a successful set. Although there was nothing to diversify their slightly monotonous sound, they swiftly received a good reception.

For the sixth time in the day, another act had the opportunity to bend crowd perception.  A fuzz of grunge-tinged guitar and scratchy, abrasive vocals epitomised the performance of Ashes Of Iron. They may have started strongly and ended twice as well, but there were some dull areas in between. Luckily Rivals provided the perfect pick-me-up mid-way.

A lot can happen in five years, and that is exactly evident with Beyond The Grave’s sound.  Even looking back to performances supporting Blitzkrieg and their appearance warming up for Marionette, there’s little doubt that they haven’t been working on tightening up their balance of melody and mayhem.  The Human Tide particularly stuck out for it’s innately head-banging nature in verses and a big but slick, catchy chorus chock with melodic harmonies.

Finally finishing an eclectic and essentially successful day of metal, Fallen Fate headlined with a bout of hard-as-concrete thrash metal. It’s no-nonsense, full throttle stuff with the same regular structures apart from the scarce breakdown of barbarous constitution.  Pendulum showcased their machine-like precision before Descendency allowed Lee Skinner to lyrically articulate himself through a channel of raw, rugged bellows.

Consistency isn’t a problem here, everything is done with clockwork proficiency. But if you’re not a huge thrash fan, you might not only find malignantly developing monotony, but you’ll find yourself wondering where their own personal identity is.  They obviously have intentions in hallmarking their own stamp of thrash, but a lack of ambition to vary their live set leads one to believe that the big break may never come.

Put eight acts on in a day and there’s going to be something for every metalhead.  Whether it’s the nostalgia involved in your traditional metal, the sheer intensity of head-slinging thrash or even the stark insanity of grind, there’s something for everyone to be enthusiastic about.

Calum Robson