Venom Inc at Fiddlers, Bristol

Support: Aertenam| Nervosa | Suffocation
March 9, 2018 at Fiddlers, Bristol

This tour, which was declared The Bloodstained Earth Tour, featured three generations of metal bands hitting the road and doing what they do best. The legendary Venom Inc headlined (with the tour name in question taken from a track from their latest album Ave) with heavyweight support from New York’s masters of technical death metal Suffocation, Brazilian thrashers Nervosa and Canadian symphonic metallers Aeternam resulting in a bill that takes in many facets of the spectrum of heavy music; and it was with great pleasure that we witnessed the Bristol leg of the tour at Fiddlers as the date had been moved from the Bierkeller which has sadly closed down – a huge loss to the music scene in Bristol, but the show must go on.

Unfortunately, the night’s metal festivities are initially halted by a delay regarding issues with the first band’s drummer, and unfortunately Japanese metallers Survive who were due to be opening the show were unable to play, which is a shame as their traditional metal with hints of death and thrash is well worth checking out.

Never fear though, there was still plenty of metal to come and it was left to Aeternam to get tonight’s proceedings underway. Coming onstage to a bombastic operatic intro, the band proceed to blast through a set that continues to combine brutality with symphonic elements and the powerful vocals of frontman Achfram Guertin standing out, especially on tracks like ‘Praetor Of Mercury’. The venue was still filling up at this point, but those who saw the band witnessed a compact but powerful set, full of prime musicianship and the right mixture of melody and heaviness.

Aeternam – Photo: Gavin Brown

Heaviness is also something that Brazilian thrashers Nervosa have in spades, as well as tireless enthusiasm and a nice line in made-for-headbanging thrash metal. The trio hit the stage and proceed to pummel the crowd in a non-stop whirlwind of thrash for the next thirty-five minutes, and the audience roared their approval and responded in kind. Tracks from Nervosa’s last album Agony were dispatched with a feverish energy, with the song that opened the band’s set ‘Hypocrisy’ and ‘Intolerance Means War’ in particular kicking up a storm with the Bristol metalheads. Bassist and vocalist Fernanda Lima is a formidable frontwoman and roared the band’s lyrics with glee, while guitarist Prika Amaral and drummer Luana Dametto provided an impressive wall of riffs and grooves. Nervosa end their entertaining set with the declaration that “There are two things we love, thrash metal and moshpits”, from Lima before ‘Into Mosh Pit’  signals a chance for the dancefloor to go crazy one more time. A brilliant and highly energetic display from the thrash-metal queens.

Nervosa – Photo: Gavin Brown

A roar of “Bristol, how you doing?” from vocalist Ricky Myers (who has replaced Frank Mullen as frontman following his retirement from the band) announces the arrival of Suffocation who proceed to floor the Fiddlers’ crowd with an awe-inspiring display of sheer aural brutality. Opening with ‘Thrones Of Blood’, the band play a set that mixes older material like the opening salvo and ‘Effigy Of The Forgotten’ with new songs like ‘Return To The Abyss’ from last years cracking Of The Dark Light record. Suffocation are on devastating form tonight, and ex Disgorge man Myers is a perfect replacement for Mullen as his powerful and deathly vocals resonate through the venue; and he certainly is an imposing presence onstage as well.

The rest of Suffocation are on peak form as well and play extremely tight as a unit – the evergreen riffs of Terrance Hobbs sounding as good as ever in tandem with the fluid playing of Charlie Errigo, while bassist Derek Boyer and drummer Eric Morotti devastate with an awesome groove that sounds so heavy throughout. Highlights come thick and fast, and a truly unstoppable ‘Pierced From Within’ is as good as death metal gets, as is the closing combination of ‘Catatonia’ and ‘Infecting The Crypts’. And with that, Suffocation leave the stage, happy in the fact that they have just annihilated everyone in attendance tonight.

Suffocation – Photo: Gavin Brown

Fittingly as the time approaches the witching hour, Venom Inc arrive onstage to a heroes’ welcome, with fans of all ages (as well as members of Nervosa and Suffocation) eager to see the fathers of black metal take to the stage. Guitarist Mantas and bassist/vocalist Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan are joined on this tour by Jeramie Kling (who plays drums in melodic death-metal band The Absence) replacing Abaddon for this jaunt, as he and his partner have just welcomed a new baby into the world. Fans need not to have worried about Abaddon not being there as Kling is a fine replacement, and pummels his kit in impressive style throughout.

Venom Inc kick off their set with the effective ‘Ave Satanas’ from their latest album, and with that we are off on a Hell-raising ride through the Venom back catalogue, as well as choice cuts from Ave. The classic ‘Welcome To Hell’ is blasted through early on, but it is testament to the strength of their material that they can do that. A rollicking ‘Die Hard’, a steamrolling blast through  ‘Don’t Burn The Witch’  and a breakneck version of ‘Lady Lust’ are highlights of the set; but it is the closing combo of ‘Black Metal’ and ‘Countess Bathory’ (and the encore of ‘Sons Of Satan’ preceded by an impassioned speech about everyone’s love for music from Demolition Man then ending with, whatever else, ‘Witching Hour’) that really brings the house down, with the audience bellowing “All hells breaking loose” back at Dolan. A true joy to watch for any fan of metal, and the crowd respond in kind with a rousing applause as Venom Inc exit the stage.

Venom Inc – Photo: Gavin Brown

The band themselves play a blinder tonight with Mantas still churning out those classic riffs and solos with ease, and Demolition Man in total control for the duration of the set with his vocals in particular being totally commanding; and the drumming, as mentioned before, was impeccable throughout.

As the audience trickle out into the rain hitting the Bristol streets, they are extremely happy knowing that they have seen four killer-sets, and been truly spoiled with the amount of phenomenal metal they have seen tonight.

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