Salt Lake City’s Visigoth found themselves on English soil as the nation went soccer (sorry, football) crazy. HRH Mag’s Rich Holmes watched the band bring their A-game to Newcastle.
“It’s coming home”. The victorious refrain rang out all over Newcastle upon Tyne on Saturday afternoon as England put 28 years of hurt behind them to reach the World Cup semis. But beneath the city’s sun scorched pavements, you’d have found that something else was coming home too…
North East England was a key stronghold in the NWOBHM movement and that genre’s baton has been eagerly picked up by a new generation of acts who revere bands like Satan, Raven, Avenger and Mythra. California’s Night Demon, for instance, blazed into Newcastle late last year, bringing with them a set of scorching, 80s-inspired metal ragers, while London Maiden-worshippers Seven Sisters and Southampton upstarts Toledo Steel took a slice out of the city last month.
This weekend? It was the turn of Visigoth to turn up the heat.
The Utah boys’ show at the Head Of Steam sold out within days and riding on the back of new album, Conquerer’s Oath – already cited as one of 2018’s finest metal records – they seemed determined to live up to the hype… and make their first foray onto UK soil a memorable one.
Amiable singer Jake Rogers admitted to needing a pre-show caffeine fix to recover from an exhausting trip from his native Salt Lake City. But the frontman didn’t show any sign of fatigue as he powered through Blood Sacrifice, Iron Brotherhood and Hammerforged, harnessing the energy of an ecstatic crowd… and occasionally donning the sombrero which was doing the rounds. Demin and leather clad rock warrior he may be, but not one without a sense of fun.
Rogers had already established himself as one to watch on 2015’s The Revenant King. However, he upped his game again for Conquerer’s Oath and his performance on his band’s second opus was a revelation, a tour de force of classic metal vocals that will take some beating. Live, he’s even better, soaring over fist pumping anthems like Traitor’s Gate with enviable ease and elevating his band’s razor-sharp delivery to even greater heights.
In moments like that, you realise that Visigoth (if there’s any justice) will soon be playing larger venues than the Head Of Steam. Yet seeing the quintet up close and personal in a basement bar seemed fitting: adrenaline-soaked nights in tiny pubs fueled the original NWOBHM scene, with messrs Harris, Byford, Ross and Gallagher all sweating it out with the fans on their paths to glory. And while the likes of Visigoth’s dazzling Warrior Queen could easily shake any arena to its foundations, those songs are equally at home in more intimate surroundings, as Saturday proved.
The show also proved that there’s no shortage of UK bands who get their kicks from early 80s vinyl either: Manchester’s Heavy Sentence kicked the night into gear with a raw, Fenriz-approved take on NWOBHM, and fellow Mancs Aggressive Perfector stepped it up with a lesson in gritty, primal proto-thrash that had Rogers and co. grinning and nodding in approval.
England’s win may have put Tyneside in a jubilant mood this weekend, but there was plenty more to celebrate if your veins surged with glorious, unadulterated heavy metal. And from Salt Lake City to Newcastle upon Tyne, the camaraderie – and talent – which flows through this scene was there for all to see.
Pictures used with kind permission of Stefan Rosic, Flash Bang Wallop https://www.facebook.com/FlashBangWallopPhotographer/