While the metal scene in the Channel Islands might be slightly quieter now than maybe it was a few years ago there’s still a lot of it about and it was celebrated in fine fashion at The Fermain Tavern on Saturday 8th March as Jersey’s Stan Smith joined Guernsey bands Brutus Stonefist and The Crazy Babies for a varied night of heavy metal.
First on stage were The Crazy Babies or, as frontman Stace Blondel would have it, Micro Machines, as they treated us to their set of Guernsey music scene inspired originals – taking us on a sordid journey from the Vazon Bay balcony to the Golden Lion via who knows who, what and where.
With Stace on bass and bedecked in a beige cardigan this first part of the set was undeniably fun and entertaining, though maybe some of the references would be lost on those less familiar with venues over here 5 to 10 years ago. That sad, if Stan Smith’s reaction was anything to go by these tales transcended knowledge with some surprisingly deft metal licks.
Once Stace handed the bass over to Wookie and ditched the cardigan in favour of an Ozzy t-shirt things kicked up a gear as The Crazy Babies blasted through a set of Ozzy Osbourne covers which, while loose and fun, showed off more of the band’s musical talent, particularly in Stace as frontman and Scorch on lead guitar who evoked Randy Rhodes, Zakk Wylde et al excellently (or should that be egg-celently?).
With more than six years under their belts as a band the last couple of years have seen Brutus Stonefist scale back the number of appearances they make, so this always makes a show from them something of an event. Following their storming show last Halloween this one started in somewhat inauspicious style as the band sounded sloppy and unfocused for their first few songs before technical issues with the drums stopped Stand Up And Fight rather abruptly in its tracks.
Once the technical problems were overcome it seemed to fire the band off in a more focused fashion as they finished up Stand Up And Fight before blasting through the rest of their set and, while it may still not have been their tightest, it was still a solid outing with more groove in the thrash at times than they’ve previously exhibited.
One thing that did strike me about Brutus Stonefist tonight was that there was an odd sense of nostalgia to seeing them back on stage. Maybe this is simply down to the fact of their few appearances and that they come from a period where Guernsey’s music scene had a very different feeling to it, but hopefully nostalgia won’t become one of their defining factors as they move forward with new material and, who knows, maybe even releasing their long-awaited (and much discussed) debut album.
As ever the Jersey foursome played with real conviction and passion with vocalist Angelo Vidigal really standing out as one of the most honest and genuine metal performers the Channel Islands has ever seen. While their set here had glimpses of the power they’ve displayed at past shows, with hints of Max Cavalera-era Sepultura and White Zombie peeking through, for the most part it had something of a slower, almost plodding, feel at times.
Despite that the band’s sense of why they do what they do carried them through and encouraged the audience into a hugely appreciative mosh and, as ever, Lloyd Downie proved himself to be a masterful metal technician on his instrument and they still left me looking forward to hearing the EP they were recording with Lifejacket Studios during their visit to Guernsey.
Even if metal, arguably, may be not be quite as prevalent in the Channel Islands now as it might have been a few years ago, gigs like tonight and Dazfest a few weeks ago, show that there is certainly still a lot of talent in heavy metal in the islands and, having slightly fewer events focusing on it, has meant that each event has a more special feeling.