Nine years in I think its safe to say nights of heavy metal marking Halloween at The Fermain Tavern have become something of a tradition and 2014 was no different as three Channel Islands metal bands took to the stage and the Tav was duly decorated with skeletons, tombstones, zombies and a projector screen showing the gory ‘highlights’ of various films that came under the gaze of the 1980s Video Nasties happening.
Bedecked for their annual “girls’ night out” Brutus Stonefist made their first appearance since last year’s Halloween gig and did what they do best; bludgeoning metalcore delivered with a surprising sense of a fun.
Going on first meant they had to work had to get the crowd involved but as the set went on some did head down to the front, though most were happy hanging back, though they seemed to enjoy the show.
While this wasn’t Brutus’ best show ever, was surprisingly tight considering they’d not played a gig in a year and the sloppier moments were still dealt with confidently and they had the audience on their side, which is always going to help.
For me the set of songs that have been heard many times before had something of a sense of nostalgia for shows going back to the L’Ancresse Lodge where Brutus Stonefist played their early shows so.
As the Tavern reached the busiest it would get tonight, with demons, zombies, witches and more rubbing shoulders with each other a Gremlin took to the stage fronting on-again-off-again metallers Choke.
Running through a set that has become their standard combining the ‘hits’ of Slayer, Pantera, Sepultura and Machine Head they should have been the perfect band for tonight, and for part of their set at least they were.
The likes of Davidian, Walk, Attitude and Angel Of Death are sure-fire classics that everyone in attendance was going to love hands down, unfortunately, between these and other classics, some less well-known (at least to the less die-hard) numbers combined with a murky sound mix that lost a lot of the technicality of the guitar work. This meant the set became over long and repetitive and many who had started down on the floor began to drift back as the set went on.
That said, the band played a tight set, again for a band who aren’t gigging regularly, and Stace Blondel remains a charismatic and engaging frontman, despite the Gremlin onesie – and fitting the words “Benest’s of Millbrook, and Fineprice” into a thrash song deserves some kind of prize from those of us who remember the classic Channel TV adverts of old.
Following Choke a large number of the crowd seemed to disappear so, when Masticated were ready to go, their audience had dwindled massively. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this happen when a visiting band headlines and maybe Buffalo Huddleston had the right idea last week putting their visiting act on in the middle of the night.
Anyway that didn’t seem to bother the Jersey boys as they fired into a set of one note technical death metal that they played very well. Again they suffered from some sound issues, particularly feedback, but didn’t seem to let that slow them down.
For me though I found it very hard to become engaged with the band as all seemed so focused on their instruments that nothing in the performance even seemed to suggest they wanted to draw anyone in who wasn’t already familiar with what they do – at points I even ended up watching the Gorgoroth videos and the like running on the projector at this point.
That said, the few who were down the front seemed to be very much enjoying things leading to a number of extra songs after the band announced their final track, but unfortunately for me Masticated failed to set the world alight in the way recommendations and word of mouth suggested they might.
So, nine years in, Halloween Metal Mayhem continued to do exactly what it said on the tin, but, for the most part, left me more with the feeling of a nostalgia show than anything new and exciting.