The night began with a performance from Lancashire-based Nitronein, a four-piece traditional metal band who we had crossed paths with at Sunk Fest 2011. Having impressed us with their set in August, we were looking forward to another fantastic performance, and they did not fail to meet our high expectations. After their customary, and very enjoyable, instrumental opening, Nitronein proceeded with The Martyred, which, with its slowish intro leading to a much faster riff, was a good choice to get the crowd into the music. They followed this with My Abuser, a strong and catchy number which consisted of some aggressive and rhythmic vocals from Hendy, fast-paced and furious drumming from Chris, as well as some thrashtastic guitar and bass from Sam and Phil (respectively). The next song played was completely different in style; entitled The Hunted, it started with several slow, long notes from Sam with heavy use of vibrato, which created a spine-chilling and morose atmosphere before the pace quickened to breakneck speed – a feat which Nitronein executed with the surgical precision of Jack the Ripper and the boundless energy of Spring-heeled Jack. Nitronein continued their performance with Embrace the Storm (before which a member of the crowd shouted “Sam you sexy beast” to which Hendy retorted “Don’t say that – he’ll take his clothes off!”), then Nothing Left (in which Sam played his guitar so ferociously, I wouldn’t have been surprised if his fingers had contorted into a Gordian Knot), and finally Burn the Witch (a personal favourite of mine which had some crowd members singing along, including myself, of course). Lastly, we have been requested by Chunk to include in our review that bassist Phil looks like a really thin version of Justin Lee Collins.
Lincoln’s Tripswitch took to the stage next, boasting their unique style I can best describe as melodic hardcore with techno elements. After a techno-based sound effect intro called RIP, Tripswitch began their set with Wormhole, which began with distortion before bursting into the main body of the song. Laden with heavily effected and distorted guitar and bass from Shaun and Steve, as well as drummer Pete’s instalment of various futuristic sound effects/samples, I found the music fascinating to behold, having never heard anything like it. Vocalist Jamie provided a spectacle for the crowd as he moved and danced erratically, like an alien having a seizure, whilst belting out some growling vocals as which were occasionally melodic. The vocalist continued to showcase his surprisingly good voice (and impressive biceps) in Trojan, which contained some extended melodic sections which in turn spiralled back into pure aggression. After another strange and psychedelic-sounding intro, which we later discovered was entitled Sleepy Hippo, the band played Pubstep, a song which demanded to be moved to and contained some skilfully deployed rhythmic off-beats from Pete. After continuing their set with Non-Unit and Green Eyes, Tripswitch cut their performance short (due to almost everyone in the crowd leaving) and ended with 1 Hit Infliction, which encompassed a different style from what had come before. The track sounded more like traditional metal/hardcore with the tune of the vocals as well as regular beats and traditional (effect-less) sounding guitar and bass. I felt it was a shame for the band to receive such a cold reception from the crowd as they did, as I felt they took a unique take on an increasingly popular genre, however their style was drastically different from the other bands’, and I can understand that they may not be to everyone’s liking. I was impressed by the fact that they soldiered on despite the audience’s dwindling numbers, and still put 100% effort into their performance.
Next to perform, Evening Meal & The After Party brought another interesting style of music to the evening. Hailing from Sheffield, the four-piece band are difficult to label – playing rock music with elements of metal, jazz, electropop which combine to make a surprisingly cohesive genre that appeals to a wide range of fans. They kicked off their set with Try Harder, an upbeat and rather strange sounding track in which drummer Danny makes good, and very fast, use of his cymbals to set the engaging pace of the song. James’ melodic vocals (complete with a rough edge) and jazzy guitar riffs complement the smooth piano melody, played by Janine. Evening Meal’s set continued with Riding the Tachyon, a lighter song with more prominent, choppy piano parts with some contrasting darker guitar riffs providing background texture. In this song, we also witnessed bassist Ben’s backing vocals which blended pleasantly with James’. The band went on to perform How Do You Feel, a darker and more rhythmic number, the lively Bored and Beautiful and Know My Name, an enjoyable song with some catchy riffs. Evening Meal ended their set withOne or Another Way, a song about serial killers which starts with an exquisitely haunting piano melody and low, slow vocals before the piano dramatically livens up and the drums kick in. Overall, Evening Meal provided a great set, and I found their genre interesting to behold. I would say they are a band whose piano sections hark back to the glory days of rock and roll, with the twist of modern features an force of hard rock.
Last, but not least, were dynamic trio Speedshot from Bedford who treated the crowd to a fantastic set chock-full of energetic rock. And, whilst not wishing to appear boorish, I did initially think they would be a horrible Jonas Brothers style band, with their legions of admiring female fans and their youthful appearance as my case and point. But thankful I was proven wrong by their repertoire which included some mind-blowing covers that kept the crowd singing and dancing along. They played a lengthy set which included covers such as Electric 6’s Gay Bar, Velvet Revolver’s Slither and Buckcherry’s Crazy Bitch, all of which the band made their own and showcased their impressive confidence and versatility. Speedshot also played some of their own material, proving that whilst excelling at covers, they are also able to produce some great tracks themselves. One of these tracks, Get It, supremely embodies the word ‘catchy’ with its infectious riffs, rock-steady beats, engaging vocals and solid bass. The end result is one hell of an incredible track. Another of their originals, Snakebite , featured some awesome hard rock riffs, and Danny’s vocals were sung with a similar speed and pattern to James Hetfield’s during Hit The Lights.
You know the evolution of man picture, which features a gradual transformation of the lineage from the mighty Nakalipithecus into the primitive Homo habilis? Well Speedshot’s set could be described as the evolution of rock – the early songs are quite light, foot tappy numbers but as the set progresses the riffs get harder and solos become increasingly technical as Danny shreds his way through. Towards the end of the set drummer Michele swapped roles with Danny. Michele gave the vox a rougher edge, but it was otherwise business as usual. Throughout the performance Danny and bassist ‘Hobit’ (?) engaged in camaraderie – pulling silly expressions and even attaching a pink balloon to the bass.
Overall, Speedshot impressed me with not only their great musicianship, but also their ability to give a top-notch performance. They were genuinely talented musicians hidden under the shroud of youth (in a Dorian Gray kind of way) and had enough stage presence and raw energy that they could easily occupy even the most Brobdingnagian stages. And yes, I’ve waited a very long time to comfortably slot that word into a sentence.