With Belfast once more teetering on the brink of descending into the chaos that is laughlingly referred to in the mainstream media as the ‘Marching Season’, and less than a week to go to its annual highlight of ‘The Twelfth’, Welsh hardcore mob Brutality Will Prevail could hardly have chosen a more apposite time to make their debut in the this particular corner of Planet Mosh and bring their reputation for frenzied, venue-levelling live shows to an audience which had been waiting eight years for this particular evening…
Openers Hornets are something of a local punk ‘supergroup’ (if such a thing could ever deemed to be a legitimate proposition), being as they are made up of members of Team Fresh (guitarist Andy Shields) and Bomb City 7 (bassist/vocalist Sib) and former Panama Kings synth player Ricky McAuley returning to his first love behind the kit. Things don’t appear to start well, however, for my first encounter with the band, as the trio wander aimlessly on and off stage for a full 20 minutes after their advertised start time, while many punters decide to enjoy the last few rays of the hottest day of the year to date rather than venture into the darkened upstairs venue: however, slowly they drift in and the three lads do likewise – but that’s about as lackadaisical as it gets, as Hornets quickly have the few dozen heads present at this stage of the evening nodding in appreciation, and even a few fists pumping as they launch into their energetic set.
The songs are old school punk/hardcore crossover, with infectious melodies driven by pummelling rhythms – short, sharp shocks made all the more effective for their punishing, accurate brevity. ‘Truth’, the title track from the band’s recent EP, opens up the first pit of the night – but there is more to come… Jamie from Lantern For A Gale takes to the stage and the bass duties as the towering Sib takes to the floor, encouraging people to “get involved with each other”: although the pit opens up a bit more, it’s still a fairly lacklustre and low key response to the intensity being generated by the frontman – until he himself takes the lead in starting a circle pit… suffering for his art, Sib returns to the stage with a massive cut over his right eye, before, pissing blood, he concludes the show with his energy levels undiminished.
As I said, this was my first time catching Hornets live, and they left me kicking myself that I had not found the time to catch up with this powerhouse before – and it’s a situation I will definitely will be rectifying again in the near future, hopefully.
Gacys Threads could be argued to be the leaders of Belfast’s hardcore scene – not least because drummer Stephen Currie has invested considerably in his faith the local scene, by establishing the excellent Savour Your Scene record label and promotions company, under the latter of which aegis this evening’s gig is co-promoted. While they may not have the consistent pulling power of, say, stablemates By Any Means or the over-rated Death Of A Salesman, but they never disappoint in the live stakes: ironically, in light of that first point, the crowd has fallen to about one-third of its previous number – although, funny enough, there is a much higher percentage of attractive young women – when the four piece take the tiny Voodoo stage. The audience swells as the set progresses, and they are rewarded with another intense show, once again characterized by the hint of pure ultra-violence lurking just below the surface – especially from guitarist Blane Doherty, who just gets better every time I see him and seems much more confident sharing a lot more of the vocals with frontman Aaron Vance: if anything, the latter, while still pacing the stage with the murderous intent of a hungry panther, is slightly more subdued than I have seen him in the past, but it doesn’t stop him encouraging the rabble before him to “get pished and wee ourselves”.
Talking to Currie and Vance outside before the gig, they had revealed that they were debuting a new song, and had predicted the audience reaction to it as “that one were Blane thumped Jonny [Munro – bassist] halfway through was really good!” Well, the fact that ‘False Hope, Death and Lies’ – dedicated to the memory of local metal stalwart Willy Taylor, who tragically died suddenly last month – didn’t end with any inter-band fisticuffs obviously leads your reviewer to assume that they played it right, with the song itself being an excellent tune with a very traditional punky edge to it.
The Gacys boys always seem to rise to the challenge of big name support slots and, despite Vance’s restraint, they did so once again with aplomb and verve.
Turning the stage set around in a remarkably quick time (considering they had to fully swap over drumkits), it doesn’t take BWP more than a couple of chords before the room explodes into a seething mess of flying limbs. Monitors are kicked to the side as small but highly energetic and enthusaistic crowd do their best to respond to his bark to action and join vocalist Louis Gauthier at the front of the stage.
Despite the intensity they generate, the band are tight and precise, especially the rhythm section of Marc and Ash, and the highlight of their 40 minute headline set is undoubtedly the towering ‘Heavy Eyes’: usually their opening gambit, for this brief Irish tour it’s combination of ominous broodiness and annihilistic hardcore severity is saved for the second half of the set, by which stage the insanity levels in the pit are threatening to disappear from the charts, as the fans continually clamour to join in, doing their bit on the microphone.
Despite the pitifully small turnout – and for a Saturday night gig, it was pretty pathetic – BWP showed why they have the reputation they have as a kickass live band, and with the help of the two magnificent support acts made this a night of true pride for hardcore aficionados.
‘Scatter The Ashes’ is out now and available directly from the band: http://
Gacys Threads band photo by Mark Leetch – www.wakeuphate.com