Ten or 12 years ago, the sight of large groups of people dressed in full camouflage gear and sporting various guns, knives and other assorted artillery (including bazookas – and pirate swords?!) would have had the guys at the now redundant cop shop a few hundred yards from this venue sending for a battalion of re-inforcements. But, that was then and this is now – and the now is a promised return to Belfast of the faux heavy metal commandos ArnoCorps.
Even support act Scimitar have got in on the, er, act, with guitarist John Thompson (pictured right) dressed from head to foot in full camo. Having been off the scene for a little over six months, the four guys return hungry and enervated, and are obviously enjoying playing one of the biggest gigs of their careers to date. The result is a hard-hitting, energetic and enthusiastic set, built around material from their forthcoming new EP, and combining both old school and new school sensibilities with an easy aplomb. It’s good to have the guys back.
Californians ArnoCorps have gone to huge amount of effort to craft and develop their mythos, developing a back story involving going AWOL from the army, car and ‘plane crashes and relocating to San Francisco to defend their Austrian culture against its bastardization by Hollywood – the sort of codswallop that could come straight from one of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies around which they in turn have built their images and based their songs.
Complete with his regulation crew cut, stogie and fake Austrian accent, vocalist Holzfeuer does a fairly decent if trite and ultimately unconvincing imitation of the last action hero, while the rest of the band look like rejects from the cast of ‘Commando’. However, it’s a real shame that it really is a case of gimmick over ability, flash over flesh, as musically this egotistically self-styled ‘Greatest Band Of All Time’ in fact could be ‘The Worst Band On The Planet’ (yes folks, worse even than Reckless Love!) and, apart from drummer Baron Von Trotz, they are average musicians, at best.
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that they have a fiercely loyal and rabid fan base, as evidenced by the constant flow of crowd surfers and stage divers who need no encouragement from the towering frontman: and, if it wasn’t for the enthusiasm of these fans, what unfolds on stage would be as fake and hollow as a WWE house show. In fact, the whole thing descends into farce when Holzfeuer hauls a bunch of fans on to the stage for a push-up competition.
OK, if you suspend belief and all sense of reason for an hour or so, then it’s (reasonably) good (possibly) clean fun – and maybe, just maybe I don’t get the joke: but then, the band and many of those present do take it a tad too seriously…
If you fancy implanting your tongue very firmly in your cheek, and checking out ArnoCorps’ “Action Adventure Audio Assault” for yourself, you can do so as follows:
Tuesday (July 29) – Birmingham, The Asylum
Thursday (July 31) – Northampton, The Racecourse
Friday (August 1) – Bristol, Exchange
Saturday (August 2) – London, The Underworld
You can read the Arnocorps script at www.arnocorps.com