The first show ever played by Sabbat (Japan) in the UK, this gig had been highly anticipated on the UK kvlt scene for a while. For me, though, this night was mainly about the return of Salute to London, their first show in the capital since Live Evil 2010. The Bristol heavy metal/black thrash sleaze merchants are one of my favourite bands so I was very excited about this gig. Deathhammer were added to the bill a couple of weeks beforehand, which for me was unnecessary but they were opening so it didn’t really matter.

The pavement outside the Bull and Gate was quite crowded by the time doors opened shortly after 8pm, though the bar inside was deserted which was pretty funny. Deathhammer started promptly and launched into playing the same rudimentary old school thrash that I remember from their performances at Live Evil a couple of years ago. The room quickly filled up with a decent crowd and there were obviously a lot of people quite into them. Deathhammer are an outfit who pride themselves on playing back to basics thrash metal, but it just comes off as boring and derivative to me. This style of stuff is quite in vogue with the thrash kids at the moment, which is fine, but their aggressive posture of being “anti-poser” and “anti-trend” is childish and stupid and they should cut it out.

Deathhammer’s set was quite short which was fine by me. The changeover for Salute was sharpish and the room was quite empty when they started, though more people quickly started filing in. The Bull and Gate normally has great sound and atmosphere and thankfully that was the case here. Salute started with a couple of tracks from Above the Law and The Underground and were straight in the groove–utterly headbanging black thrash at its best. This three-piece is an excellent live band and they did not display any rust from their relatively lengthy break from playing live. There was a fair bit of interaction with the crowd from Swine and Kaptain and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. Swine’s unique facial contortions deserve special mention; this is a band that relishes being grim and nasty.

The middle part of Salute’s set saw them introduce some new material, including that featured on the splits with Occvlta and Tangorodrim. The new songs have a slightly different feel to much of their earlier material, going more in the direction seen in Cargo of Loss/Six Deep on The Underground. They’re a bit more down-tempo and atmospheric, and more jagged and unnerving. The new song Achtung was really good and finished with a weird guitar solo that sounded great. I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that the new material is being influenced by Swine’s involvement in Hateful Abandon. It certainly is sounding more hateful and more mature. The new songs were well-received despite the fact they’re maybe not as immediately catchy as the stuff from the previous albums. Salute finished by playing 2 Bit Punk and Hell on Heels which gave the set a really strong closing. It was an excellent and very enjoyable performance.

Like a few other people I was exhausted and drunk by the end of Salute’s set but excited about seeing Sabbat. Unfortunately Sabbat didn’t have any of their hundreds of releases with them, or any merch at all, but we should just be grateful to see them play London I guess. Sabbat are a hugely experienced band and seemed really up for this show, which should be no surprise. Their set was just what you would expect–an utterly old- and original-sounding amalgam of black, thrash and heavy metal. There was still an excellent crowd when I left before the end of Sabbat’s set. Hopefully they found the experience of playing a show in London to be worthwhile.

As a footnote: during the course of the evening, apparently someone pissed inside the venue somewhere they weren’t supposed to. The landlord was unhappy about this, unsurprisingly, and is allegedly using it as a reason to ban and cancel all metal gigs booked to happen there. It’s not the first time this guy has decided metal gigs can’t happen at that venue, and it probably won’t be the last, but hopefully his tantrum won’t go on for too long as the BnG is one of the best venues for metal in London. Maybe it’s time for someone to buy him out?

Originally published on my blog on 2012-11-09