It was about 8.30pm on Friday 22 July, at the Ringside, and Violent Deception were preparing to take to the stage. There was a somewhat disappointing “crowd” of approximately five metalheads gathered to hear the band play, one of whom was a photographer and two more were ourselves, attending so we could provide your good selves with our usual dose of literary delight. Such a low attendance, I imagine, was a little disheartening, especially since the gig was free to all, so really, if you weren’t there, you had no excuse! But despite the poor turnout, I couldn’t fault VD’s attitude as they faced the attendees brandishing their instruments.
Vocalist Jon introduced the band with steely confidence, attempting to draw the audience into his world. They opened with their signature song ‘This is Who We Are’, a song which evolved from their intro into a different beast entirely. Evolving is something which I think Violent Deception does exceptionally well. For example if you watch videos of their old performances of songs such as ‘Warriors of Metal’ and compare it to their more recent performances then you’ll surely notice how much more tightly and faster they play, even Phil’s drumming is a bit more furious. They’ve even added sections to make the songs more technical, such as playing a brief segment before ‘Warriors of Metal’ in order to build anticipation.
They played a healthy dose of their iconic songs; ‘I am Fear’, ‘We are Immortal’, etc, as well as their new(er) tracks such as ‘Hearts of Steel’ and ‘The Price of Peace’. The former is reminiscing of the typical Hammerfall track amalgamated with Violent Deception’s trademark style; whereas the latter is the band’s most thrash orientated song, think of it as Megadeth with the anger of Slayer. They ended their set with a cover of Judas Priest’s ‘Breaking the Law’, something which Jon’s vocal style was perfectly suited to.
For such a young band (and yes I do realise that sounds like such an elitist comment) they play with the passion and experience of the legends of metal combined. They incorporate the best elements of NWOBHM, thrash, power and speed metal. None of the members can be faulted; both Jon and Hector (on lead and rhythm respectively) are extremely talented and technical musicians with the added fact Jon is also the vocalist which must put strain on his guitar work, Phil is incredible on the drums playing some very difficult beats with such finesse (my personal favourite is the military style beat on the pre-solo of ‘The Price of Peace’) and Reece carves his own little niche on bass – ten times the musician he was before joining Violent Deception, now galloping like a mad horse. My only real qualm is how Jon is putting more emphasis on his high-pitched soaring screams, which whilst he definitely has the vocal range for it I felt it sounded unnecessary and forced in places as though he was trying to recapture the audience’s interest. Which is a shame, because his screams at the end of ‘The Ripper’ or the beginning of ‘We Are Immortal’ are so perfect they send a shiver down the spine.
When the time came for Firewall to launch their five-man metal assault on the establishment, the attendance had picked up to a more satisfactory level, though the crowd wasn’t particularly lively. Included in the crowd was a cameraman who, we were jokingly informed by vocalist Mark, was there to film them for an anti-bulimia campaign. Alongside the professional cameraman, there were several photographers, including Andy Silverback, and it was more like a photoshoot than a gig. Especially since for the majority of their set the audience stuck to their half of the room as though there was something as nefarious as the dentist scene from Marathon Man happening on stage.
Things kicked off to a flying start with their cover of Cult’s ‘Wild Flower’ which, while not a new song for Firewall, is one I hadn’t heard from them before. The pace didn’t slow even as guitarist James’ E string broke mid-song. Firewall’s arsenal of metal covers included an eclectic mix of well-known tracks including Thin Lizzy’s ‘Whiskey In The Jar’, Metallica’s ‘King Nothing’, Drowning Pool’s ‘Bodies’, Pearl Jam’s ‘Even Flow’ and more, providing a great set which had the crowd moving to the beats even if they didn’t actually edge nearer until the set had almost finished.
Queens of the Stone Age’s ‘The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret’, was another song that Firewall have played live in the past but I had yet to see them perform it. Personally I thought this was the best song out of all that they played; Mark’s vocals were absolutely spot on and it matches the band’s style perfectly because I’ve found they are at their best when performing alternative rock.
The band’s performance was only slightly hindered by minor technical faults such as feedback and some guitar tuning issues, and these were neatly swept under the rug with the charismatic vocalist interacting with the crowd and distracting them from any waiting. The gig ended with a classic Firewall end with their ‘Metallica Medley’, which is always a pleasure to hear.
So with two excellent bands, at no cost to the crowd and on a Friday night, I was hoping for a bigger audience; though the amount of people there wasn’t offensively bad like it was for Merciless Terror a week later (something we’ll get into in that review). Despite this is was another enjoyable gig that formed the perfect start to the weekend.