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Those Once Loyal to Bolt Thrower

If you're a Londoner you would know that London isn't exactly known for the big live bands that play. London has a great local scene, sure. Although, in terms of death metal we don't exactly get huge bands. Usually, the London Music Hall gets metalcore, deathcore, and all around "core" bands playing. We have had such "exciting" acts like Black Veil Brides, Asking Alexandria and Silverstein. I admit, some good bands from the core genre have played here, such as August Burns Red, Upon a Burning Body, and ERRA. This article isn't about metalcore bands, though.

When we got the news that UKs biggest (or, rather one of them) death metal pioneers were coming to play a show in London, we were all shocked. Like, what the fuck? We would be lucky if they came to Canada every once in a blue moon, but to have a band as big as them play in the city overlooked by plenty of bands, this is a huge chapter for any metal head. Traveling far and wide, out of province, out of the country, many a person was excited for this show. Who exactly am I blathering on about? Maybe this will help: No Guts, No Glory. Still can't figure it out? I'm talking about the one, the only. Bolt Thrower. They weren't playing alone, of course.

Headlined by Bolt Thrower, co-headlined by Canadian thrash Legends RAZOR, and opened by Born Dead Icons and Abyss, the show was expected to be packed with such a stacked line up. As soon as any Londoner found out about this, we had our tickets. You had to have been insane to not get your ticket as soon as possible. People were excited from even beyond London. From even beyond Ontario. People from even New York and beyond had planned the drive for this. Metal heads of all ages have conjugated into the semi-large venue of the London Music Hall for one night of pure metal, ready to see those who we worship as 'heads.

Waiting months for June 20th to come, we prepared greatly for the show. Loading our playlists with the album's and songs we expect to hear on the track lists we were ready to mosh and sing along to every track that's thrown at us. The pay off was expected to be explosive. Being as ready to beat the hundreds, maybe even thousands of people heading to the show, I got to the line hours early. Being the first in line, I noticed that everybody flocked straight to the merch booth upon entering the venue. I completely understand why. I'd rather spend $20 on a shirt at a concert than $50 on a shirt on EBay. The merch booths weren't exactly impressive. Bolt Thrower had four shirt designs and some other items, Razor had a few shirts and patches, Abyss had vinyls for sale and some buttons, and I didn't get a good look at Born Dead Icons' table. The second thing I noticed was the lack of a barricade and security by the stage. If this is the way the stage will look for the rest of the show, it'll be better than expected.

I've never listened to Abyss. I've never even heard of them before the bill. I didn't know what genre they played or where they were from. If Bolt Thrower was death metal, Razor was thrash metal, and Born Dead Icons were thrash/punk cross over, I'd expect Abyss to be either thrash or death metal. I stood against the stage, eagerly waiting for Abyss to take the stage. Stereotypically they looked like every hardcore band I've seen; buzzed hair, tight jeans, shirts that lacked any true logo. My mother always told me that looks aren't always everything. When they took the stage, I could feel the double kick and crushing blast beats. The drummer has a lot of talent and skills behind his drums. He exhibited those skills perfectly during the set. In terms of guitar and bass the band had two guitarists who completely know how to shred. The bassist knew exactly what he was doing and how he was doing it. The band proved that they deserve to be opening for legends such as Bolt Thrower. When the vocals chimed in, I expected to hear high melodic singing, or high pitched fry screams. I was completely wrong about the kind of band Abyss was. The vocals were deep, low pitched growls that were consistent and evil. The music blended well with the vocals and gave off a crisp, clear sound. They played good old head banging death metal, and were completely relentless. They quickly gained my respect, and no doubt plenty of new fans. They are defiantly worth seeing again.

Before coming to the show I dug up on Born Dead Icons. YouTube is perfect for research on bands before they play. Born Dead Icons are much more punk thanks thrash. I expected to get an Iron Reagan feeling from them. But they are the kind of band I'd expect to see opening for the Misfits with a band like Juicehead. They do not fit on a bill with Bolt Thrower. The vocalist was speedy and aggressive, but the music just did not do justice to the whole thrash label it was given. It was just too simple to me. I wasn't a huge fan of it but I was prepared to give them a chance live. Now, I'm saying a lot of negitive things about Born Dead Icons but that does not mean I think that they are bad. They have a lot of talent and potential. I enjoyed a few of their songs, but just didn't understand why they are opening for Bolt Thrower. At the show I sat back and watched, wanting to reserve my energy for the gods playing after the twenty minute set. The band came out strong and held my attention, for a good six minutes. The band hardly interacted with the crowd. They only played their set and left, nothing in between. The band put in a lot of energy, but the crowd just didn't feel it. I lost interest before the third or so song and ended up tuning them out by accident. After twenty minutes passed and they got off the stage, it felt like an hour went by. I feel like if they put more into the performance and played a bit heavier they could match the genre that the night was based around. For now though, I'll just leave it at Born Dead Icons didn't belong on the bill, and wasn't all too impressive.

When you were a kid was there a band you were dying to see live? A band where you wanted to stand there, fist raised and chanting their name? For me, that band has always been Razor. That's why I stood there in the pit with my horns up, chanting along with the rest of the venue. Razor! Razor! Razor!  Ever since I heard tracks off Shotgun Justice and Decibles I knew that Razor was one goof soup that I couldn't get enough of. They used the large computer screen to their advantage, having their logo on display behind them. That was something both opening bands didn't do at all. The legends went on one by one: first the bassist, then the guitarist. After a few jokes and a short monologue from our friend on the guitar the drummer slipped behind his station and got ready to play. The only person that we were all waiting on was Bob Reid, vocals to both Razor and Bobnoxious. Bob slithered on the stage with at least four beers in his hands. That was the exact moment the chant began. The band feeds off the energy from the crowd, and we sure as hell gave them plenty of energy to feed off of. The band spared no time. They jumped right into their fast paced and aggressive set, causing the pit to go crazy from the first note of every song. They played most of their popular songs; Cut Throat, Take This Torch, Cross Me Fool, Goof Soup, Evil Invaders etcetera. Sadly for me they didn't play Great White Lie, Miami or Shotgun Justice. Oh well, it was still a kick ass set. Razor brought a new meaning to the words fast and furious. They played so furiously that by the end of Take This Torch strings on the guitar had to be replaced. Bob's voice sounds much better live than on recorded Razor records. Then again, the last Razor record was released way back in the 90s, so of course he would sound different. The band haven't lost their touch in terms of playing the music. They completely slayed the crowd. Bob, the bassist, and the guitarist all interacted with the crowd and talked quite a bit however that did not affect the performance they put on. After the first shy stage diver lept from the stage during Cut Throat Bob encouraged more divers as long as we respect the band playing, and jump safely. The band ended with a stellar performance of Evil Invaders and left with a roaring crowd begging for another song. Razor out on a show that I could never have even imagined. They were ten times better than I had expected.

Fast forward to ten o'clock that same night. Place yourself back in that same pit in front of the stage. Everything goes dark and suddenly the screen lights up with the logo. Bolt Thrower. Many of is have waited months. So many more have waited years. Many long years. The band takes the stage and over the speakers plays loud fan fare of trumpets and instrumental. Looking around, you'd see everybody had their horns up in respect. After the instrumental died out, Bolt Thrower stormed our ears with their angry riffs. Bolt Thrower is one of those bands who has a flawless discography, and they use that to their advantage. I came there wanting specifically four songs: Those Once Loyal, Anti-Tank Dead Armour, No Guts No Glory and Mercenary. They completely delivered with every song I wanted, and more. The band worked so well in unison with each other through every song. They didn't't mess up once as would be expected with professionals such as them. In between tracks they talked to the crowd and introduced each song, but it was extremely difficult to understand through his thick accent. Even then, his vocals were flawless. Anybody who missed this performance, or walked out after Razor missed a damn near perfect show. Bolt Thrower didn't let down any of their fans who showed up. Whether this was your first Bolt Thrower show, or your eighteenth, it was still a damn good show. The tickets were $22 and were worth every penny. Whether you were in the pit, on the balcony, or at the back of the bar, the bands shook the building and put on the best metal performance in London in a while. This is coming to the end of this article, have a great day and horns to everyone. \m/