Oh Jȁger, you glorious memory-erasing blackened vials of greatness. You have given us all some seriously fun times, and tonight is certainly one of those times because the elixir producing giants are putting on four great bands for just £5! Ta very much gents.
Like every show on this tour we have a local support act to open and the London leg is no different. Despite a pint being a fraction off the the ticket price (£4.55!!), kicking off the booze-fuelled festivities are the ever present, Kent upstarts Feed The Rhino (7) who are terribly let down by the sound. The manic quintet launch themselves onto the stage and for all their energy, sound like they are calling you from the bottom of a biscuit tin. Despite the obvious hindrance and the venue possibly being a bit too vast for them, Feed The Rhino play their hearts out and never let anyone stop for a breather. Leading the charge for the riotous bunch is mega-bearded front-man Lee Tobin, who frequently terrifies audiences in sweat-box venues across London, is now wildly thrashing around a huge open space and they lack the usual intensity because of that. Don't judge them because of this show, if you ever stumble upon them at a smaller show (and you will, they seem to get on every bill at the moment) they will undoubtedly scare the shit out of you too and leave you a sweating, broken individual.
Their set was just a brief 25 minutes long but they packed in some great anthems like the furious 'The Burning Sons' and a much rarer glimpse of the softer side of FTR, with a brilliant rendition of 'Tides'. Their instantly recognisable, searing brand of the hardest of core goes down well with the punters who scrambled in as soon as the doors opened. Luckily for them they were treated to a full-scale assault from a typically chaotic FTR, it is great to see them play the show like any other and really have a go. It is just a shame the the size of the venue took away an element of danger common with Feed The Rhino shows. Miss them next time at your peril!
Faring much better with the sound gremlins are homecoming metal mavericks, The Defiled (9) who are playing the Jȁger tour for the third consecutive year, and there is a reason for that, they're a bit good! Every member of The Defiled's slick, punishing machine is well oiled (probably a euphemism for drunk) and devastatingly on top of their game. From the front with Stitch's great array of soulful tones and harsh screams to the back with Needles' precise and flamboyant display of drumming skills, every component plays their brilliantly. Keyboardist and resident nut-case The AvD is up to his usual antics with an energetic display and zero consideration for his poor instrument, he is a joy to watch and keeps Brixton pumped up.
The Nuclear Blast new boys open their set with the recently released single 'The Sleeper' which is an aggressive number and despite not sounding as good as the rest of the set, still engulfs the Academy in a shroud of delirium. Another new tune was showcased to the London crowd, 'As I Drown' was similarly well received and gets most of Brixton jumping up and down in sensational pogo-ing style. The new album looks very promising, if these songs are anything to go by. An expectedly brilliant set, another smashed keyboard and a toppled amp later and the cockney geniuses are leaving the stage with more fans secured.
By now the Academy numbers are beginning to swell and the anticipating was reaching breaking point. Thousands of bodies had piled into the venue expecting a good show from a certain French behemoth, but I don't think anyone was quite prepared for what was about to happen. The juggernaut that is Gojira (10) rock up to a backdrop of stars dotting the rear wall and break into the faultless 'Explosia' which sends all jaws directly downward. The level is talent and ability on show here is not of this world and only gets better as the night goes on. Gojira seem to transcend beyond what death metal can be, they almost make it a thing of beauty. Their knowledge and crafting is far superior to their peers and this performance would not have been bettered by any band. The Duplantier brothers have created something special here and even swap instruments at one point like it's nothing! One of the best drummers in the game, Mario Duplantier (who apparently can rival his brother as a guitar wielding front-man) possesses a scarily accurate, lightning-fast and heavy-hitting playing style and you can really feel each beat rattle your skeleton. Vocalist Joe Duplantier roars and grimaces through a perfect set and his skull-crushing riffs never fail to impress.
Gojira are one of the true greats of our generation and their equally impressive and ever-growing stage show will see them only smash through more 'glass ceilings' that usually stop extreme bands from progressing. The head from the 'L'Enfant Sauvage' artwork is brought to life and used as a mood light/screen to project imagery on and further added to the sensational atmosphere buzzing around Brixton. As they left the stage, mouths were still firmly embedded into the deck and one of the finest sets in recent memory had come to an end. I could have watched them all evening.
It was a strange choice for a headliner, it didn't feel right to follow the chaos and energy of the previous bands with the haunting vibes of satanic loons Ghost (8). The fast rising melancholic swedes didn’t seem at all fazed by this though as they preached in front of their sinister church set. Their new/reborn/'actually the same dude' singer Papa Emeritus II holds the attention of his congregation in a commanding fashion whilst his Sabbath-worshipping Nameless Ghouls churn out the favourites from 'Opus Eponymous'. The sound gremlins didn't get at Ghost either as they sounded phenomenal. Tracks like kvlt favourite 'Ritual' get everyone left in The Academy chanting the words back in scenes resembling the most disturbing episode of Songs of Praise ever witnessed.
All credit to Ghost (B.C for the American readers) for coming out off the back of a headline worthy display from Gojira and doing their thing with the grace and menace that we have come to expect. Devil worship has never sounded so good with a few new tracks getting dropped into the set, the new songs were well received and it left the crowd patiently waiting on the arrival of 'Infestissumam', which is coming your way on the 15th April. With yet another successful sermon finished and undoubtedly more follwers added to their already star-studded fan base, Ghost appear to be going from strength to strength. Who knows where another album and similar media exposure could take them next?