Review and Photo Credit – Reg Richardson
It’s a Wednesday night, Easter is on its way and Bilston was about to be torn a new one as Thrash and Death Metal enthusiasts descended on the The Robin to hear the Swiss Misses [sort of] of the Burning Witches perform a double-header with Brazil’s Nervosa all supported by local Midlands band Recall the Remains.
The evening gets underway with local Metalcore 5-piece, Recall the Remains. On stage I have to admit they look like they’ve been assembled from a disparate collection of other bands; the fairly clean lines of guitarist Zach Bowden contrasting sharply with the somewhat androgynous appearance of bass player Jordan Barnes contrasting further with the Americanised looks of vocalist, Jacob Collins. Guitarist Elliot Rowe and drummer Anthony Morris make up the numbers. It makes for an intriguing mix.The screeches and gutterals came straight away with ‘Lifetaker’ which started so sweetly – well for at least 6 seconds, before the headbanging really got underway. Jacob led the way with the vocals supported admirably by both Zach and Jordan. There was no let up as the band moved onto ‘First Inversion‘ a high energy track from the Dead Dreams EP. ‘Darker Path‘ from the same EP followed. The growls of Jacob were met by the very refined voice of Jordan as the song moved to and fro between the two. ‘Fever Dream‘ came next and was followed by ‘Fairfield‘, probably the heaviest track of the set and another opportunity for Jacob and Jordan to work together again; it also provided a soundboard for a nice bass solo from Jordan. The set finished with ‘Our Hell‘, for me the most musical track of the night. Overall a very good set, lots of energy and while the vocals of Jacob are the centrepiece, those of Jordan could fit in with just about any rock music genre.
Although thought of by many as a Brazilian band, Nervosa can truly be considered an INTERNATIONAL band with current band members coming from Brazil, Italy, Greece and Spain. These mistresses of thrash metal are fronted by vocalist Rocío Vázquez, aka Diva Satanica, with Prika Amaral (guitar), Mia Wallace (bass) and Eleni Nota (drums) alongside. Following a short intro the band open up with ‘Kings of Domination‘ from Perpetual Chaos, the band’s 2021 album released by Napalm Records. This proved to be a heavy metal anthemic soundtrack with added growls and gutterals provided by Diva Satanica who, by her own admission, is not a melodic vocalist in any sense of the word. Tonight’s set, as a whole, was focused on that most recent album, Perpetual Chaos with just a handful of songs coming from two of the band’s previous three albums. ‘People of the Abyss‘, a more ‘traditional’ death metal offering came next followed by the absolutely manic ‘Genocidal Command‘ a thrash metal track played at 100mph!. Next on the menu was ‘Death!’, not literally you understand, but one of the songs from the band’s first album, Victim of Yourself . The last time I saw this played was around seven or eight years ago when the band was a 3-piece. We’re back to the present with ‘Time to Fight‘, which I found more repetitive than some of the other songs, but it did have a very nice guitar solo from Prika in the mix. Staying in the now ‘Venomous’ was next which started with a nice heavy metal riff that lasted probably less than 10 seconds before Diva Satanica screamed her lungs out! The invitation to start a mosh pit was received by a somewhat mixed reaction as only three or four people took up the offer for ‘Into Mosh Pit’, again from 2014’s Victim of Yourself. ‘Kill the Silence‘, the single offering from Downfall of Mankind  was followed by the most recent album’s title track quickly followed by ‘Blood Eagle‘ from the same album. The set finished with another oldie, ‘Masked Betrayer‘ a bit of old school thrash from Victim of Yourself.
The band retire for a few moments to gather their thoughts, catch a breath and let the fans yell for more before they return with a triple header of ‘Rebel Soul‘, ‘Guided by Evil‘ and ‘Under Ruins‘ all from Perpetual Chaos to round off their evening and set the scene for co-headliners, Burning Witches. The ‘hair game’ from Prika and Mia of Nervosa was a strong one but I’ve a feeling that from the Burning Witches is likely to outplay it.
Tonight’s Witches comprise Laura Guldemond, Romana Kalkuhl, Larissa Ernst, Lala Frischknecht & Jay Grob – hair game on! The setlist is a little more balanced than Nervosa‘s with the 2021 release, Witch of the North supplying four songs, Dance with the Devil from 2020 adding a further three songs and 2018’s Hexenhammer a further two. The final two songs, which included a single encore, come from the band’s first album, Burning Witches/Burning Alive from 2015. A short intro is followed by ‘Executed’ from Hexenhammer, a heavy rock kick to the crotch that Laura and the band deliver to the cheers of the crowd. Already the hair game strong it is as the riffs flow, the vocals emanate, the bass drills down. Dance with the Devil provides the next two songs; ‘Wings of Steel‘ and ‘Sea of Lies‘ before ‘Flight of the Valkyries‘ from the current album takes over. A restrained, and rather melodic, start belies what is to follow as melody transforms into thunderous thrash metal. Fans at the front risk being whipped to death by Laura‘s dreadlocks as she shakes, shimmers and flicks her hair in a frenzy. Somewhere between songs Laura found the time to say hello but no time was wasted in moving from song to song. The claim that ‘We Stand as One‘ was enough to encourage the audience to chant along to the opening bars of what seemed another melodic opening but which lasted just a few seconds before the heavier riffs take over for an anthemic rock experience. The ‘Lucid Nightmare‘ that followed was anything but lucid; the smoke, strobed lighting and hair-covered faces made sure of that. Laura screams the lyrics to a song that started at 100mph and stayed there. The title track from The Witch of the North album came next, not as energetic as other songs tonight, lyrics a little strained perhaps, but it still had the fans chanting along. This all changed as the band flew into the popular ‘Hexenhammer‘; nothing too melodic about this one, it’s a hard-hitting lump of skull-crushing metal. We’re at the end of the show and the band take the fans right back to their origins and the first album as ‘Black Widow‘, all thrash and screams, and ‘Burning Witches‘, almost classic heavy metal, finish the set, the songs split by Laura‘s goodbyes and a very short intermission which only lasted long enough to catch your breath again.
The girls of Nervosa and Burning Witches both delivered what each is best at; death metal on the one hand with thrash & heavy, HEAVY metal on the other. A hot and sweaty venue was allowed to clear and give the staff the chance to look for any cracks in the structure from what was a VERY loud show. Nonetheless, it was excellent all round, and that includes the lads of Recall the Remains, well outnumbered by the heavy metal hellraisers of Nervosa and Burning Witches.
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