0 9 mins 7 mths

It’s a Wednesday night, Easter is on its way and Bilston was about to be torn a new one as Thrash and Death Metal enthusiasts descended on the Robin 2 to hear the Swiss Misses [sort of] of the Burning Witches perform a double-header with Brazil’s Nervosa all supported by Recall the Remains.

The evening gets underway with Midlands Metalcore band, Recall the Remains.

On stage I have to admit they look like they’ve been assembled from a disparate collection of other bands; the fairly clean lines of guitarist Zach Bowden contrast sharply with the somewhat androgynous appearance of bass player Jordan Barnes contrasting further with the Americanised looks of vocalist, Jacob Collins. Guitarist Elliot Rowe and drummer Anthony Morris make up the numbers. It’s an intriguing mix.

The gutterals came straight away with ‘Lifetaker’, which started so sweetly – well for at least 6 seconds, before the headbanging got underway. Jacob led the way with the vocals supported by both Zach and Jordan. The band moved on to ‘First Inversion’ a high energy track from their Dead Dreams EP and ‘Darker Path’ from the same EP followed. The gutterals of Jacob were complimented by the refined voice of Jordan as the song moved to and fro between the pair. ‘Fever Dream’ came next and was followed by ‘Fairfield’, probably the heaviest track of the set, and another opportunity for Jacob and Jordan to work together again; it also provided a soundboard for a nice bass solo from Jordan. The set finished with ‘Our Hell’, for me the most musical track of the night. Overall a very good set, lots of energy and while the vocals of Jacob are the centrepiece, those of Jordan could fit in with just about any rock music genre.

Although thought of by many as a Brazilian band, Nervosa can truly be considered an INTERNATIONAL band with current band members coming from Brazil, Italy, Greece and Spain. These mistresses of thrash metal are fronted by vocalist Rocío Vázquez, aka Diva Satanica, with Prika Amaral (guitar), Mia Wallace (bass) and Eleni Nota (drums) alongside.

Following a short intro the band open up with ‘Kings of Domination’ from Perpetual Chaos, the band’s 2021 album, released by Napalm Records. This proved to be a heavy metal anthem with added growls, screeches and gutterals provided by Diva Satanica who, by her own admission, is not a melodic vocalist in any sense of the word.

Tonight’s set, as a whole, was focused on that most recent album, Perpetual Chaos with just a handful of songs coming from two of the band’s previous three albums.

‘People of the Abyss’, a more ‘traditional’ death metal offering came next followed by the absolutely manic ‘Genocidal Command’ a thrash metal track played at 100mph!. Next on the menu was ‘Death!’, not literally you understand, but one of the songs from the band’s first album, Victim of Yourself [2014]. The last time I saw this played was around seven or eight years ago when the band was a 3-piece. We’re back to the present with ‘Time to Fight’, which I found more repetitive than some of the other songs but it did have an excellent guitar solo from Prika as part of the package. Staying in the now, ‘Venomous’ came next which started with a nice heavy metal riff that lasted probably less than 10 seconds before Diva Satanica screamed her lungs out!

The invitation to start a mosh pit was received by a somewhat mixed reaction as only three or four people took up the offer for ‘Into Mosh Pit’, again from 2014’s Victim of Yourself. ‘Kill the Silence’, the single offering from Downfall of Mankind [2018] was followed by the most recent album’s title track quickly followed by ‘Blood Eagle’ from the same album.

The audience were given a bonus as Laura from Burning Witches came on stage to share vocals for a couple of songs.

The set finished with another oldie, ‘Masked Betrayer’ a bit of old school thrash from Victim of Yourself.

The band retire for a few moments to gather their thoughts, catch a breath and let the fans yell for more before they return with a triple header of ‘Rebel Soul’, ‘Guided by Evil’ and ‘Under Ruins’ all from Perpetual Chaos to round off their evening and set the scene for co-headliners, Burning Witches.

The ‘hair game’ from Prika and Mia of Nervosa was a strong one but I’ve a feeling that from the Burning Witches is likely to match it.

Tonight’s Witches comprise Laura Guldemond, Romana Kalkuhl, Larissa Ernst, Lala Frischknecht & Jay Grob – hair game on!

The setlist is a little more balanced than Nervosa‘s with the 2021 release, Witch of the North supplying four songs, Dance with the Devil from 2020 adding a further three songs and 2018’s Hexenhammer a further two. The final two songs, which included a single encore, come from the band’s first album, Burning Witches/Burning Alive from 2015.

A short intro is followed by ‘Executed’ from Hexenhammer, a heavy rock kick to the balls that Laura and the band deliver to the cheers of the crowd.  Already the hair game is strong as the riffs flow, the vocals emanate, the bass drills down. Dance with the Devil provides the next two songs; ‘Wings of Steel’ and ‘Sea of Lies’ before ‘Flight of the Valkyries’ from the current album takes over. A restrained, and rather melodic, start belies what is to follow as melody transforms into thunderous thrash metal. Fans at the front risk being whipped to death by Laura’s dreadlocks as she shakes, shimmers and flicks her hair in a frenzy. Somewhere between songs Laura found the time to say hello but no time was wasted on pleasantries.

The claim that ‘We Stand as One’ was enough to encourage the audience to chant along to the opening bars of what seemed another melodic opening but which lasted only a few seconds before heavy riffs take over for an anthemic rock experience. The ‘Lucid Nightmare’ that followed was anything but lucid; the smoke, strobed lighting and hair-covered faces made sure of that. Laura screams the lyrics to a song that started at 100mph and stayed there.

The title track from The Witch of the North album came next, not as energetic as other songs tonight, lyrics a little strained perhaps, but it still had the fans chanting along. This all changed as the band flew into the popular ‘Hexenhammer’; nothing too melodic about this one, it’s a hard-hitting lump of skull-crushing metal.

We’re at the end of the show and the band take the fans right back to their origins and the first album as ‘Black Widow’, all thrash and screams, and ‘Burning Witches’, almost classic heavy metal,  finish the set, the songs split by Laura’s goodbyes and a very short intermission which only lasted long enough to catch your breath again.

The girls of Nervosa and Burning Witches both delivered what each is best at; death metal on the one hand with thrash & heavy, HEAVY metal on the other. A hot and sweaty venue was allowed to clear and give the staff the chance to look for any cracks in the structure from what was a VERY loud show. Nonetheless, it was excellent all round, and that includes the lads of Recall the Remains, well outnumbered by the heavy metal hellraisers of Nervosa and Burning Witches.

Words & images: Reg Richardson