Saturday, 8 March 2014

Live Review : Mastiff, Dripback, Crowbar, The Corporation, Sheffield, UK, 1st March 2014

Saturday, 1 March 2014, Crowbar bring the HEAvy to Sheffield., Corporation

With the news that Iron Witch were playing as support the previous night in Manchester, admittedly there was some disappointment from this Sludgelord, that they are not on the bill tonight, however Mastiff were more than a worthy replacement.  Hailing from Hull, East Yorkshire, UK this crazy bunch of miscreants imbued hate from the outset.  A sound in the key of malevolence, Mastiff were devastating, with their blend of sludgey hardcore metal. Hell, I’m a dog lover myself, but this four piece were more rabid that a rampaging packs of Rottweilers, an intimidating proposition indeed.  Is there a genre called sludge aggro-core? If indeed there was, this band of merry bastards would be the antithesis of that.  Their short set was just low end filth, the pace of hardcore, the crush of Crowbar and venom of Converge.  A nice mix and given that I was on a diet of crush tonight, this is just the start to the evening I needed.  These guys were a worthy replacement for Iron Witch, their power and performance was vicious and given the bassist was punching himself in the head, just a little bit unhinged too.  As their bio suggest they sound like, Crowbar, Battalions, Hatebreed, Terror, 100 Demons.  A heavy mix indeed and once this Mastiff embedded its teeth, there was no mercy shown. To paraphrase Jello Biafra, ‘A dog should not bite, it’s supposed to beg’, however the only people begging was the audience, for this particular onslaught to be over, and so they could nurse their wounds, before the next band took to the stage. 

As the venue starts to fill up and the alcohol begins to flow, I can only make reference to myself here (I was enjoying myself, J).  Dripback take to the stage.  With their sophomore release but a few weeks old, Dripback’s opening gambit is one comparable to early NY Hardcore and is perhaps my immediate reference point, but more nihilistic, punctuated by grindings guitars.  The tone and refrain is angst, think Ray Winstone in a Borstal with an iron bar twatting you in the face.  Where’s your tool, now eh?  The pace is one of intensity, kinda Shane Embury doing hardcore, seriously these guys are unrelenting.  Pinched harmonic and the odd galloped riff and beat down are the only source of respite throughout the duration of this avalanche of discordant dirt.  This set is the sound of grinding noise and as the band state, “Keep your mouth shut and your head down”.  Hell, I feel like kicking my own arse, so these bastards will go easy on me.  30 mins of assault and battery, these guys are a knuckle duster to the face.  Dripback were arguably an incongruent choice for the bill, however what they delivered was blistering, and who can argue with that?  

Having kicked off this heavy metal day, watching The Lego Movie with my 2 ½ yr old son.  Frankly, you don’t get more metal than that, do you?  It was time to dust myself down and prepare for a night with ‘The Riff Lord’ himself, Mr Windstein.  That can only mean one thing, Crowbar are in town.  With the refrain of ‘Everything is awesome’ from the aforementioned movie, playing repeatedly in my head, it is quite fitting given that my face is due to be melted under the weight of sludge this evening.  Who doesn’t think that’s awesome??  Raise your hands. 

Owing somewhat of a favour to Phil Anselmo and two misunderstood TV metal heads, I have followed this band for 20 years.  The simple common denominator for this dedication is ‘riffs’, sheer unadulterated weight.  For me their first 5 records are solid gold, with Odd Fellows Rest perhaps just edging Broken Glass in terms of their definitive record.  But let’s not kid ourselves, nothing is average about these guys, Equilibrium, Sonic Excess, Lifesblood and more recently Sever the Wicked Hand are still class records.  The lasting appeal of Crowbar is Lord Windstein, his tenacity and dedication to his art of producing crushing riffs is unparallel, coining the phrase ‘None Heavier’.  Indeed, Windstein himself said in a recent interview, the biggest compliment you give, is that of ‘Riff Lord’. 

Recently stating that your current line up is the strongest in 25 years is a measure of their confidence, new album in the bank, no side projects, new bass payer.  This renewed vigour within the band is clear to see tonight.  The altar for this ‘Lord’ is the stage and tonight Crowbar destroys.  ‘Conquering’ is just the best start you could ask for, Windstein’s white explorer brings massive power, the crowd bellowing ‘Conquering, In time I’m Conquering’.  In the live arena, the song is heavier than I remember on record.  ‘High Rate Extinction’ was the first Crowbar I ever heard and is next up, chugging riffs, you known the one, with that trademark low end bend every 3 or four notes.  The Lasting Dose is stunningly crushing, audibly this is seismic.  Windstein sporting his Michael Schenker t shirt is clearly enjoying himself and reminding us that it was 10 years since he graced this very stage.  Words like weight, crush and crunch are the perfect adjectives to sum up this evening.  This band bring the kind of dense power that asphyxiates, causing your eyes to glace over, I’m talking petechial haemorrhaging.  The sheer volume tonight stifles your every breathe and ability to take in oxygen.  We are treated to ‘Burn Your World’, ‘Self Inflicted’ ‘Sever The Wicked Hand’ ‘New Dawn’ , saving ‘All I had (I Gave)’ to the latter part of the set.  For me, ‘Planets Collide’ is always a highlight and is easily one of the best songs Windstein has written.  Tonight is no exception and overall their performance was a balanced diet of bludgeoning riffs.  My 5 a day was slow low end heaviness and I went home overwhelming satisfied that Crowbar are more powerful than ever and undeniably there is indeed ‘None Heavier’.  Now watch the ‘Planets Collide.’    

Words by : Aaron Pickford