With the awful, unseasonable weather robbing Hawk Eyes of the chance to open this show (and as an aside it struck me as odd that the different opening acts for this Jagermeister sponsored jaunt weren’t local anyway – its not as if we don’t have plenty of decent acts) it is left to The Defiled to kick the evening off.
The band are ones RTM has seen on a numerous occasions as they criss-cross the UK opening for anybody and it doesn’t matter how many times we see them, it always takes a while to get over the fact they look like some dirty version of the Black Veil Brides.
Strip away the image, though, and what there actually is a very good metal band. And one that, evidently, is going places. Their new album has been produced in Florida by Jason Suecof (Trivium, Job For A Cowboy) and is coming out on renowned metal label Nuclear Blast. They premier a track from it this evening in “Sleeper” and it sounds huge. It sits alongside older material like “The Ressurectionists” and the still catchy as hell “Call To Arms” and as always, The Defiled leave with some new fans.
It is something of a shock to RTM that Gojira aren’t headlining this shindig. The French titans have been to this country enough over the last 12 months (this is the third time we’ve seen them) to build up a pretty big fanbase. They played the venue next door last June and sold it out, before a rammed show in Wolverhampton in November. A proper international metal act, they have no problems in a 50 minute support slot tonight.
Of course, it helps that Gojira are, to be frank, brilliant. The act is well-honed. The band all racing around the stage during in second number “Flying Whales”, just as they have twice before, they give an airing to the aptly named “Heaviest Matter In The Universe” and play a magnificent version of the title track of their most recent record “L’Enfant Sauvage.” Quite fantastic.
It is however Ghost (or Ghost BC) if we were in America) that are the closing band tonight. They have a stage set that befits the occasion – and their ludicrous nature – as they mock up a church and the crowd to be far adores them over the course of the next 75 minutes.
For us, though, it is a joke that is wearing a trifle thin. We saw them back in December 2011 way down a Metal Hammer bill at the Wolves Civic Hall and for half an hour they were spellbinding. After this we got the album and (whisper this quietly because everyone seems to love them) we thought it was a little bit dull.
And that is exactly how we feel about them tonight. The eight songs they play from that debut album “Opus Eponymous” are good, but - “Ritual” aside – RTM genuinely can’t see what the fuss is about. Bands like Merciful Fate were doing this type of thing better 20 odd years ago and, this is our first listen to the five new tracks and honestly, none of them grabbed too hard.
That is not to say that Ghost aren’t enjoyable, they are big dumb fun, but if we ever hanker for a band that doesn’t reveal either its face or its name, then we will reach for the first four Kiss album and the first two Slipknot records, which are genuinely exciting.