Bonecrusher Festival (Featuring Job For A Cowboy) Live Review From London's Underworld

As the rain clouds begin to form over The Underworld, a usually vibrant Camden is overrun by a characterless grey that fails to dampen the spirits of this midweek bout of skeletal destruction, which will be focussing on the necks of London's death loving locals. The travelling festival is opened up by young Aussie sextet, Make Them Suffer (8), who seem less than intimated and hell-bent on making new fans on their travels. Unfortunately for the Perth bruisers, a six band bill means that they are on stage at 5:30, a mere 30 minutes after doors, not that this seems to affect the sheer weight of their sound. The raw brutality is dashed with symphonic keys and soft samples which float hauntingly under the tight riffing and hearty beatdowns.

The songs are well crafted and the band aren’t short of energy as they bounce and shred around the stage, particular praise for guitarist Nick McLernon, whose bonkers array of high kicks and guitar slinging antics never fail to entertain and get the criminally small crowd moving with them. Frontman Sean Harmanis' gutteral roars and deep lyrics pierce through your mindtank and leave the largely unsuspecting audience in a state of happy disbelief. These are ones to keep an eye on, and label giants Roadrunner Records seem to agree as they have them on their books.

Unfortunately due to a scheduling conflict, I missed out on French deathcore bunch As They Burn (?), but I have it on good authority that they were 'bloody good'. My interview with Job For A Cowboy bassist Nick Schendzielos was scheduled for almost the exact duration of their set – typical. See what I miss for you people?!?

Anyway, moving swiftly on to fellow French noise-merchants, Gorod (7). The tech-loving deathsters tear up and down the fretboard in glorious bouts of sonic savagery. Mad gurning vocalist Julien Deyres gets in as many faces as possible and growls his message through a flurry of widdly guitars and blastbeats. The sound is densely layered, which bulks up the heaviness but sometimes can feel technical for technicality’s sake. Perhaps a more straightforward bludgeoning would benefit the furious froggy shredders. As a unit, however, the band are very tight and each member handles their complex passages with great skill and dexterity. The arrival of the skull-smashing headfuck, 'The Axe of God', gets fists up and heads banging, as it should because their latest release 'A Perfect Absolution' is rammed to the gunnels with enough material for any tech-lovers wet dream.

Continuing down the path of face-smashingly heavy music, we find ourselves faced with War From A Harlots Mouth (7), who do not fail to deliver yet another round of aural pugilistic rage. The no-nonsense, Berlin-based bruisers are here for a fight, or at least are packing enough aggression for one. They have established a respectable fanbase on our shores in recent years and a good number of the die-hards are in attendance tonight. With a torrent of spin kicks and flailing arms taking over the front area of the stage (hardcore dancing, I believe? Back in my day, folks just used to mosh), WFAHM don't sit back and watch the carnage unfold, more like stoke the flames and maniacally push for more. Although lacking the pace of the earlier acts, they certainly don't shy away from the intensity and could match most bands on their day. The method of aiming straight for the jugular has worked for the German five-piece so far, so why change a winning formula? Raw, brutal growls and deathly beatdowns dominate their sound and go down brilliantly with the London crowd. Devastatingly heavy music.

On a rotating slot with WFAHM are raging Canadian foursome, Beneath The Massacre (8), who are given their turn to play main support and grasp the opportunity with both fists. A single word was uttered by almost everyone around The Underworld the second that BTM took to the stage, that was four letters long. In a supreme display of defiance and one-upmanship, they took the fight WFAHM, and as close as it was, just pipped them to the 'most furious performance of the evening' award, which of course, I just invented. The short, sharp assaults of death metal crunch – which headbutts at the door of grindcore – take heads clean off of shoulders and warrant the first major pit action of the night (that is if you discount the spinning loonies during WFAHM, which I do). The Montreal hate-machine despatches bite-sized chunks of murder, in musical form, which perforate the ear drums of everyone in Camden.

So, after four hours of blastbeats and savage riffs, we are faced with American juggernauts, Job For A Cowboy (9). The sonic terrorists from Arizona are in ferocious form as they strategically destroy the Underworld with waves of snarling aggression. The assault is lead by enigmatic frontman Jonny Davy, who prowls the front of the stage with his bulging eyes staring into everyone else’s. He spouts his political messages of hatred like a possessed preacher to a similarly mental congregation. Choice cuts from JFAC's stellar back catalogue whip up a frenzied response, but dropping tracks like 'Constitutional Masturbation' and 'Entombment of a Machine' will do that to a pack of rabid metalheads. The whole band are giving it all, which when you consider that the room is still hatefully under-filled (seriously, London. Pull you finger out!) is quite admirable. They seem to enjoy plying their trade at present with Nick Schendzielos' tortured bass and Jon Rice's punch-drunk drum kit laying down the monstrous foundation to JFAC's rhythmic massacre.

The 'revolving door' in the band has stopped and the stable line up are rejuvenated and ready to fight the world. Although the tandem shred-fest from the technically gifted guitar duo, Tony Sannicandro and Al Glassman is enough brutality for one set of ear-holes, it proves a challenge to shift the focus from the seething Mr Davy. As the sole founding member left in the band, it is great to see how far they have come. Looking back to the early Myspace fame to nabbing a headline slot on the splendid 28 day run of Bonecrusher Fests, it seems like a lifetime ago when a bunch of 15 and 16 year olds were grabbing extreme metal by the bollocks. And straight of the back of this tour across Europe, JFAC are doing a run across the USA supporting Hatebreed and a string of festivals, these boys can hardly be called slouches.

Scribbled by:

Metalhead, Wannabe Music Journo, Long-Haired Fool, Thrash Enthusiast

Can also be found at his kick ass blog