Gig Review: The Sonic Slaughter, 18 Nov.

When The Sonic Slaughter popped up on my radar, I was immediately intrigued. The line-up of three bands was alluring in that each one held a certain interest of mine. Beeldenstorm are a very new band on the local circuit, and I’d already missed their first two live appearances, and The Warinsane has been in some kind of hibernation for many, many months. In fact, I had begun to wonder if we’d ever see The Warinsane resurface at all! And then, of course, Suiderbees have been reunited with their bassist after a few months abroad. I almost did not make it, however, owing to financial crisis following a busy month of gigs and parties. Judging by the eventual turnout of the show, I now realize that my woes are widely felt, as I would have expected a full house for this. We came a upon a venue possibly only about one third full.

Beeldenstorm: a word taken more directly from the Dutch language, which is apt in the naming of a South African band given that our nation has a rich portion of history owing to Dutch settlement – even to the point that our Afrikaans language is rooted firmly in Dutch. The band front themselves as an Afrikaans band, speaking Afrikaans, singing Afrikaans, and making Afrikaans metal for South African metalheads. I already liked them just out of principal alone. As the band started their set, I could tell that there was some nervousness on stage, as is always the case when a band is still stretching their legs in the live arena. Unfortunately, the audience was also a little cautious from the start, offering only a slight reaction to the bands music. Ah, the bands music! Contrary to a general lackluster energy level which seemed to sap everybody in the place, I trust that Beeldenstorm will soon rise to become a popular headbanging favourite. What struck me immediately was the sense of raw simplicity in the songs. So many metallers come blazing into the scene with layers and layers of complexity that makes sense to it’s creators, yet flies totally over the head of the listener. This often results in a good band being regarded as bad.

Beeldenstorm keeps it simple. As they progressed through their set, their influence could easily be seen as taking hold. At the first song, people stood rooted to the floor almost motionless except for one or two courageous blokes nodding feebly, and then gradually evolving to a point where, at the last song, there was a front row of circle headbangers. Nothing complicated – nothing over the top – just good old fashioned simplicity, like a death metal version of Manowar in groove and consistency. The vocals made me think of a young Glen Benton. Wet-sounding, raw, guttural power. I look forward to the day when Hilton takes mastery of his self-confidence and begins to command a crowd (like Wallace from The Warinsane who played after). I think its fair to say that the drums lacked somewhat in sophistication as compared with the other two drummers who played that night, yet Michael bores forward with a solid determination rendering his playing as unmistakably metal, just with the classic “less-is-more” approach.
Two sexy BC Rich guitars flanked either side of the vocalist. It’s rare to see a lady on guitars; even moreso rocking a Warlock! On the other side was Dewald with the most gorgeous Beast I’ve ever seen. The guitaring and bass followed on the ethos of the drums, not bearing down too heavily on the audiences levels of tolerance – just basic balls-to-the-wall riffing, with a smattering of pleasant melody texturing it here and there (the likes of which I might have considered as akin to Rotting Christ).
True, as the bands sound and style presently stands, they will probably never whip up the sort of frenzy as seen by bands of more extreme ilk, but I feel that these guys (and gal) have the potential to fill a void where extreme music meets a slow, purposeful banging of ones head… like Manowar, except they sound NOTHING even remotely like Manowar. That’s just the best reference I can think of to describe the pace of the music. I’m very interested to see how this band grows over the next year.

The Warinsane
The Warinsane certainly lived up to their namesakes. It sounded like somebody had punched the fast-forward button. Watching them gave me that warm feeling inside – like when you’ve forgotten how much you liked something, and then were reminded all over again after a long time – just like that! It was interesting to hear some new material written since Petri (formerly of Azrail) joined the band. I was reminded of what an intense and skilled drummer Brian is, and if I might say so myself, what a commanding frontman Wallace has become since trading in his bass guitar for a microphone some years ago. All in all, it was good to see The Warinsane back in action. They will soon reclaim their position as one of the cities top acts. People just need to wake up to the fact that they are back!

Suiderbees is a band which I’ve been following closely since they also crept out from under a rock not-all-that long ago, much in the same way as Beeldenstorm now do. I remember seeing their first live shows where also they remained fairly static onstage. Yet Suiderbees have since risen to become truly a “Beast of The South”… and of the stage! I was very impressed by their newest addition to the band on lead guitar (formally of Butchered), and by the fact that I could hear more of the symphonic elements (Karin on keyboard) than I remember hearing at any shows prior. It tells me that they’re beginning to find that place in the mix where everybody is allowed for a bit of breathing space, without certain instruments hogging all of the glory.

All in all a great evening, but my personal highlight as being Beeldenstorm, because I think that they have something fresh to offer the scene in 2012. No ill-gotten feelings for the other bands though – they were absolutely fantastic – but I’m ever eager for a fresh sound to my ear.

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