Heat-Ray with Asomvel, Avenge Thee + Naime and Oracles. 23rd June 2011

By Shane Douthwaite

In order to capture the sheer randomness that made up this night I am not going to give some wordy intro, so as the starving olympic divers might have said regarding a swimming pool full of jelly, “let us just dive in”.

Kick-starting the night were Oracles, mixing the increasingly popular metalcore sound with obvious hints of prog. The complicated beats and timings blending with the huge, heavy riffs and growl vocals really is an interesting sound. Their set was filled with tonnes of musical skill and they showed a strong stage persona, but for me it was lacking a very important feature… A drummer. Playing alongside a drum machine has obvious benefits; constantly accurate timing and insanely complicated beats. But it removes the personal feel that you get with an actual live drummer, and it removes some skill factor. Several of their songs such as Mechanical Thunder and Road of Bones helped the audience reach the levels of adrenaline and energy that would be needed to survive the night. I also felt this was an ambitious gig for them, and once I talk about the other bands you’ll see why; but overall Oracles played a strong set and I’m sure that with the inclusion of a drummer that these guys will take the scene by storm.

Next up were the special guests of the evening, ever since seeing their astounding set at Metieval I have longed to see them play again. Asomvel have a phrase: “Make it louder, make it heavier, then make it louder again!” and they live by it. Tonight’s set was jam packed with more Motorhead-esque rock and roll than you can shake a whiskey bottle at. They show so much swagger and laid back grace, and then they swiftly knock your ass to the ground. Meanwhile at the back of the stage smashing hell out of his kit sits Ian Wright (No, not that one.) this guy knows a thing or two about playing the drums. From beginning to end their set drags you in deeper to their world with anecdotes a-plenty from Lenny and Swifto, and after only a few songs they had the entire crowd in their hand. My highlight of the night was (quite ironically) Internet Commando; the song which condemns online reviewers.

“We are Heat-Ray, and we play heavy metal!” Chunk’s opening gambit really tells you what to expect from the local legends. When Heat-Ray took to the stage Hollywood and Vine was about half full, which was as good as it got tonight. With a short set filled with Heat-Ray standards and a few classic rock covers they did what they do best; play their god damn hearts out and have a laugh while doing so. The highlight of their set had to be Adam’s relentless energy throughout the entire set, and as always they each gave it their all. There was a slight issue with their cover of Running Free, as Jimmy (on drums) clearly needs educating in the ways of Iron Maiden. But all in all they pulled through and played well and will always remain a Denim and Leather favourite. They also earned points for fair play by cutting their set short to allow the massively delayed Avenge Thee + Naime on, as they had travelled all the way from Kent.

So then the final act of the night, Avenge Thee + Naime. Watching these guys set up was as much entertaining as it was bewildering; as they placed two drum kits face to face on the floor in front of the stage… After a few moments of confused gazes from the audience they finally confirmed our delightful suspicions when not one, but TWO drummers stepped up to play, they were topless and wearing half a pair of pyjama bottoms each. Once set up they began their set; whilst the two drummers (Chainy Rabbit and Chester Boyd) slammed out a synched drum beat and guitarist Marc tortured his guitar’s frets within an inch of their lives, the frontman (Adam) walked through the audience shaking hands and forcing smiles from everyone. Their songs were long and structured in a very strange way, which only added to the spectacle, as the singer contorted himself in seizure like dances to the music. From handing out cymbals to the audience to having a staring contest with Adam from Heat-Ray mid song, this band are sheer entertainment and have to be seen to be believed. Their sound is impossible to categorise, as it is purely unique, I would like to call it Experimental Expressionism Through Organised Chaos. Once they had finished their set Avenge’s Adam was hugging everyone in the audience to thank them, and he even threw himself to my feet.

Overall I’d say this was the ultimate gig, it had it all. From simple tried and tested formulae to absolute insane randomness. Avenge Thee + Naime will be playing Hull again soon, so if you missed the chance to see them on Thursday this will provide the opportunity to see why they‘ve been invited to play Bloodstock on the Jagermeister Stage. It was a crazy night and best of all… It was free.