Since I'm mid-review I'm not going to indulge in a pretentious introduction, that'd be like booting up Skyrim mid-coitus. So here's the final part of the review.
Day Three - Sunday 8th April
Featuring: Silent Jack, Shine Over Babylon, Bulletproof, Righteous Indignation, Nitronein , Pants Nest and The Council
Genre wise Sunday was probably the most varied of the full weekend; hosting a mixture of sleaze, speed metal, hardcore thrash, experimental and classic rock bands. The audience levels were fairly good until after Righteous Indignation’s set when only a select few remained for the rest of the evening.
Energetic Birmingham sleaze quartet Silent Jack opened proceedings on the Sunday, and I have one very vital thing to say – I did not care for their cover of Velvet Revolver’s Slither. The mechanics of the cover such as the drums, bass and guitar were good and accurate, but the sleaze approach just did not work for me as it give it an off-kilter vibe. Nevertheless they were a highly entertaining band, in particular – Rich Mason; a phenomenal front-man with phenomenal vocals. And they went down well with the crowd, who appeared to enjoy their infectious choruses, and typical sleaze attitude.
Last time I saw Shine Over Babylon was at their debut gig in March; and though I absolutely loved their soulful blend of rock, they were clearly rough around the edges. And now moving forward a little over a month, have they improved? I would certainly say so – they haven’t really changed their style, but rather simply refined it. Neil Chatterton remained a revelation was his raw yet melodic vocals and the driving force of their set was their light catchy sound and cutting riffs –complemented perfectly by an excellent turn on bass by Mat Howlett. The three piece stuck by their guns with an engaging set which ranged from the faster foot-tappers to the more thoughtful sombre numbers, with a few iconic covers added into the equation for good measure; including one epic, crowd pleasing number when local personality Chunk joined them to bellow out Rockin’ in the Freeworld.
A large crowd had gathered to patiently await one of Hull’s finest - Righteous Indignation, who wasted no time getting into their fast paced, furious set. Vocalist Joe is an intimidating sight to behold, the roaring man mountain paced the stage with his intense performance. Righteous put on a typically tight performance with their unique blend of thrash and hardcore. Highlights included a member of the audience being dragged on stage by Joe and the two having a ‘hardcore vocalist’ stand-off so to speak. The ‘new song’ – The Ballad of Jim Marshal was a hilarious yet poignant moment, as the band wanted to pay their respects to the late pioneer of guitar amplification – and did so with a three note song. The song ended as abruptly as it began, and induced laughter from the surprised crowd. My favourite song remains Righteous Boogie as not only does it have a damn addictive beat but it also gives bassist Craig some fun riffs to play with.
Despite the youthful appearance of the members, Bulletproof have the sound of sages of metal. Listening to them from the bar which afforded little visibility of the stage amongst the hordes I formed an image of them in my mind, which was far different from reality. It may seem a strange thing to focus on, but I view it is a compliment on their overwhelmingly awesome capabilities. Surprisingly this was my first time seeing Bulletproof in action, and I was hooked in by the riffs and technical solos of two great guitarists who clearly eat nothing but traditional metal CDs for breakfast, a drummer who appeared to be attempting to destroy his drum kit with his fast beats and a vocalist with a booming vocal style, whom I’m confident is the same softer voiced vocalist of local pop-punk band Young N Hopeless. Bulletproof more than proved themselves a highly energetic young band, with brutal riffs and fret-raping, yet not too pretentious, solos.
Onto Nitronein. Now I have to be careful of how I word this following section, as I don’t want to portray DnL as having a vested interest in bigging up the band of its head writer; but I think we can all safely say Nitronein are the next Testament. Joking aside, I have long enjoyed Nitronein; ever since I first saw them at Sunkfest 2011 and this performance was no exception. Though the crowd had since waned, vocalist Adam put on a fantastic performance with his strong vocal style, navigating the stage somewhat menacingly whilst beside him guitarist Sam handled the very Megadeth inspired riffage. Their standout song had to be My Abuser which featured fantastic 80’s speed metal guitarwork from Sam (including a lengthy shred solo), simple but effective beats from drummer Chris and a great vocal range from Adam. Not a suspicious review at all.
To say next band, Pants Nest, were an interesting band would be as much of an understatement as saying Machiavelli was the most successful troll of his time. Minimal crowd interaction, no real song structure, heavy distortion and some far out playing techniques were all present throughout their set. Pants Nest were certainly unique in the sense that I and many others in the building had adorned an expression that can only be described as being told you’re inflicted by a variety of Chlamydia that can only be caught by having sex with Velociraptors.
Pants Nest shared a drummer Willie Nash with Sunday headliners The Council, who are quite possibly the coolest band on the planet. The three piece played an intimate laidback set which harked back to British Rock’s glory days of bands such as Cream and Blue Cheer. Their sound is best described as ‘swaying’, as you can’t help but sway along to their twelve-bar blues chord progressions and the raspy yet silky tones of Derin and Marcus. For one of the first times in my life I had to fight back the urge to dance, even though when I dance I look like Mr Bean having a seizure in zero gravity.
Day Four – Monday 9th April
Unfortunately I could only stay for an hour as I was due to toll in the salt mines, so I am unable to review anything about this day; other than the fact the weather that day was very wet. And cold.
All in all, Skullfucker II was another runaway success in the eyes of the DnL team and many who attended the event. There was a comforting consistence in the attendance level, which is almost enough to dismiss claims of apathy in the local scene. Whilst the variety of band genres didn’t live up the standard set by last year’s event, which ranged from horror themed black metal to operatic gothic metal to thrash and 80’s glam; there was not one band that felt out of place.
My only real criticism of the event is the fact it is over four days, and seeing every band felt like such an arduous task. In fact I was only briefly able to attend the Monday as I was due in work, but from what I saw it was the least attended of the entire event. Spending twenty plus hours at the venue over four days is a big ask even for the most devoted metal fan, and I feel Skullfucker would benefit from being a three dayer. One thing I mentioned in last year’s review was the possibility of running updates constantly throughout the event, as this year there was a lot of rejigging of the band roster and quite often I would turn up early, only to find myself with nothing to do for a few hours; other than drink excessively and go for a cheeky one in the toilets of course. If the Hollywood and Vine sold any kind of nourishing food than the event would have been great, for the only sources of sustenance around the venue are take-aways and petrol stations; and if you can survive on the food one would obtain in either of those places for three whole fucking days then you are clearly Bear Grylls.