Shredd, with support from Liam Ross and Monsters In The Ballroom, at Tooth & Claw, Inverness.

So out of curiosity, did you grow up in the late 90s? Did you play too much Tony Hawk as a kid while potentially wrecking your kidneys with energy drinks before the think 25 policy kicked in on them? Well on the 15thof February, The Tooth and Claw had you covered for the night. Two thrash/punk bands were playing on the night, with a Scottish acoustic solo artist opening for the night. Liam Ross seemingly was a curve ball of an introductory artist for the night, with Monsters in the Ballroom playing and Shredd as the main act.

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Right off the bat, it should be said that Liam Ross lost the feeling in three of his fingers and must play with them off of pure memory, so he was an inspiration to the local crowd regardless. He warmed up with an eclectic mix of stuff, from ABBA to Dire Straits, before performing his own acoustic tracks. Losing the feeling in his fingers forced Liam to focus back on the fundamentals of guitar playing and it shows in his music. The songs were very well performed and there were no noticeable misses of any notes, but if you are not really into acoustic, or just get burned out on it very quickly, you may start to find that it all sounds too similar for its own good.

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Monsters In The Ballroom took over during the midway point of the night. In interview, the band said that the most important component of their style was the groove, and it really showed. They had a weird knack of taking the sound of late 90s nu metal scene such as Fu Manchu and then blurring it with the rhythm of blues and classic rock. One of their songs had an intro that sounded almost exactly like the beginning of “Higher Ground” by Red Hot Chili Peppers of all things. Again, by a certain point they started to get a bit repetitive they leaned into a more modern sound, taking points from Slipknot and Killswitch Engage resulting in music that makes the listener want to curb check the ground beneath them. Really impressive band all in all.

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The three-piece band, Shredd finished off the night with a sound that takes the listener through the decades of the punk and thrash scene seemingly from its’ origins to now. Some of what they played had the feel of early 2000s pop punk like Rise Against and vocal styles of the Ramones, with other songs being reminiscent of The Dishwasher series’ James Silva’s music and the stylistically surreal guitar screeches within. The band said to have a somewhat realistic view of where they’re going in the future, and that they aren’t expecting to be selling out the O2 and playing mostly for fun.

On one hand, it means they come across as genuine and grounded guys, but that might also be what sets them back a bit. Punk in general is a genre where the audience is meant to accept that the music itself is not all that technical and kind of samey sounding, in the hopes that there is enough raw passion and anger flowing through the instruments for it to not matter too much, and it did not really feel like that on this night. They were perfectly competent, and maybe this can be attributed to personal taste, but without that passion they got a little tiring, and when most of the music is purely instrumental, there are not even any inspired lyrics to love. It should be said again, not a bad band by any stretch but nothing to write home about.

Overall, it was another strong night for The Tooth And Claw. The audience were clearly into what was going on from start to finish, and it is worth mentioning again that these are all new artists who still have a lot of kinks to iron out.

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