Review of Achren / Zombie Militia plus support @ Beat Generator Live, Dundee, Sunday October 16th 2011
In a surprise twist of events, I found myself in Dundee to finally check out Glasgow-based, Achren, on the last night of their Scottish tour, after they were unable to perform at their Inverness show on Friday night. Also on the bill were 3 bands from the Dundee area and, main tour support, our own Zombie Militia.
To start off the night, we had Laceration, who some people will know that I have a history with, as their previous drummer, so it was going to be really interesting to see how the band has progressed since my departure. Joined on stage by temporary bassist Chris Ryan (PaRtY-CaNnOn/Psychoanalysis), and a drum machine, which I’ve lovingly nicknamed “Mark Jr.”, vocalist/guitarist, Hamish Maguire treats us to a healthy dose of brutal death metal, full of hilariously sick song titles such as ‘Traumatic Insemination’, ‘Gorging on Putrid Orifices’ and ‘Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation’.
Understandingly, this sub-genre is not everyone’s cup of tea, and it can be seen in the reaction of the, albeit very small, Dundee audience. Nevertheless, the guys clearly look like they were having fun on stage, proven by the banter in between the low detuned chugging guitars, rapid drumming and deep incoherent vocals. The icing on the cake was the surprise use of a “90s Gangsta’ Rap” sample after the rather tasty ‘Human Tikka Masala’.
Staying on the subject of brutal metal, we next have Kobayashi Maru, a 4 piece local southern death groove-type band with a “tongue-in-cheek attitude”! When these guys walked on stage, my attention was immediately drawn to the unorthodox, and very misleading, attire of vocalist, Jamie Oates, who decided that jogging bottoms were the best thing to wear at a metal show. However, he proves that fashion is not important in metal music as he unleashes a terrifying growl upon the audience and makes the stage his own little playground, running about like a lunatic.
The rest of the band play with a sort of swaggering groove the likes of Down and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster would be proud of, and also sneak in the occasional section of brutality, filled with technical guitar riffs and ferocious drum work. However, I felt that their stagecraft was a lot left to be desired, as there seemed to be very minimal movement, although there were moments where Steve, on guitar, was really getting into the groove and thrashing about.
Next on the bill was Man Made Origin. Also from Dundee, this 4-piece band, clearly, love their progressive rock, blending it with various elements of black metal, death metal, thrash metal and even post-metal (bands such as Isis, Deftones and Godflesh all fall under this sub genre) to create a very unique, and seriously catchy, sound. These guys really know how to play their instruments, performing a tight and energetic set, filled with harmonizing guitar parts, dual vocals, impressive precision drumming and, overall, displaying a level of technical proficiency that Rush would be proud of! Vocalist/guitarist, Max Taylor’s stagecraft and guitar playing were absolutely spot on for anyone that plays in a prog metal band and his vocals were just superb, effortlessly switching from a wide range of screaming and growling to a haunting clean vocal style, which sent shivers down my spine.
Man Made Origin are due to release their debut album, ‘False Consciousness’ on November 25th this year, and are holding an album launch party in the University of Dundee’s Student Union the same night. After the performance I’ve seen tonight, I can safely say that I will definitely be in attendance, and will be one of the first to purchase a copy!
The word on the street was that Zombie Militia had managed to cause a punter to vomit from excessive headbanging at their show in Glasgow the previous night, so already I was looking forward to comparing tonight’s performance with that of their Inverness appearance with Threshold Sicks. For starters, there seemed be a higher degree of aggression coming from the band, looking to be going completely flat out tonight! Guitarist, Garr had informed me that most of the guys were up until the early hours of the morning, drinking Dalwhinnie whiskey, however, there was no signs of any sort of aftermath as the guys look rather fresh faced, thrashing their way through a familiar set, with the likes of ‘Bottleneck’, ’Destructive Rituals’ and ‘Right Hand of Doom’.
Despite the size, it was fairly obvious that the crowd thoroughly enjoyed the efforts of the Highland thrashers and, knowing this was Zombie Militia’s third consecutive gig this weekend, made watching the band even more impressive! The combined instrumentation of Hando, Garr, Huggy and Soapy assaulted the eardrums of all those present; their blend of groove and thrash constantly keeping the crowd alive! However, it was vocalist, Burns, who led the flying of the flag for us in the North tonight, with a rougher brutal vocal style in comparison to what I remember from their Inverness show, thus, proving further that the guys gave it 110% in their last show of Achren’s Scottish tour.
Speaking of Achren, it was finally time for the “blood metallers” from Glasgow to unleash their unique and commandeering sound upon the Dundee “masses”, starting off with the track, ‘Pestilence’. Featuring shredding guitar riffs and a slamming drum groove, this was the perfect opener to Achren’s set, very quickly followed by a brand new song, not on any of Achren’s releases. I got to admit, I was absolutely blown away! This song, as well as another new one that was played later, felt a lot more atmospheric than anything on ‘The Forgotten King’. It was almost as though Achren were trying to redefine their sound, evolving the very sub genre they created.
Overall, the band’s performance was extremely diverse, with their crushingly hard heavy metal riffs, death metal and black metal sentiments and thrash mentality intertwining with one another. John Clark Paterson and Gordon Johnston both delivered a solid rhythm section, full of tasty bass lines and storming drum work, respectively, and Callum Kirk’s guitar work grants him the title of “Rifflord of the Night”! Scott Anderson, on vocals and guitar, also surprised me with one of the widest metal vocal ranges of the night; from a black metal type screech all the way to a low death metal guttural roar. Even between songs, he keeps up his death growl when engaging with the crowd, reminding me, fondly, of Nathan Explosion from the animated series, Metalocalypse. Seriously, someone get that man a Strepsil! Scott even manages to fit in the odd cackle during songs, most notably in the brutal ‘Manuel’s Mile’, almost scaring the living daylights out of me!
Unfortunately, Achren’s set ended after only 7 songs, having also played the likes of the hard rocking ‘Fuck It Hard’, their 2008 single, ‘Blood Soaked Banner’, and ending on the very brutal, ‘Impaled’. However, I can honestly say that the 4 hours worth of travelling from Inverness was still worth it! In fact, after bearing witness to all of the amazing talent tonight, my opinion is that Scotland has, arguably, one of the fastest growing metal scenes in Europe!
Written by Mark Dubanowski
Photos by Mark Dubanowski and edited by Frances Haworth