By your friendly webmaster
Mulch / Gore / Desolation, Bradford Empress
Some people went to Bratislava on 12th October 2002 for the England vs Slovakia football match. I went to Bradford instead - so there's still the same level of danger, then. Initially, heading off the M606 and heading down the road with the guided buses that I remember from the Scream Bloody Roar trip, everything seemed to be going according to plan, especially as following the evil one-way system led me up the road that I recognised from the directions Matt gave me... until I attempted to park and found two riot vans behind me with a couple of pigs jumping out attempting to defuse the turf war that was about to break out only metres from my car. So I tried a different route, turned down a dark street to park up and look at the directions... and found myself parked outside the Empress. Result.
It's an odd place, with the stage set behind a row of seats... so it's not somewhere to get right up close to the action. Still, as long as there was quality metal, I'd be happy... quality was assured over the next hour and a half... of soundchecking. Matt had advised me to get to the Empress for 8:00 or so... Desolation finally kicked off at 9:30. There was time for about half an hour of some superbly crushing metal with lots of black metal screams, deathly grunts and the occasional attempt to sing over the top... from two people. Thing is, each track lasted something like eight minutes, so they only had time for five, and one of those was a Dark Tranquility cover... not that I'm in a position to complain about long tracks, though... they're from Surrey, so there's every chance of catching them in London, and they're planning a long tour with The Enchanted, given that Daryl has said they're his favourite band. Definitely a band to look out for if they're in the area.
Vae Solis has been scheduled to play but Baz is a busy man, and put off VS's appearance for another week - leaving the three remaining members to wheel out the ultra-ultra-turbo-fast drumming (Kiran), blood stained lab coat and corpse paint (Matt) and butcher's apron and... horse mask (Jayanta). Cue a set with a definite nod in the direction of VS ("My Hands Have Fallen Off" used a riff from "The Potential Mistake" - can't fool me), "a glowing tribute" to the Enchanted's Tony ("Tony's Hernia" and "Operation H.E.R.N.I.A." - which he asked for himself), accidents at home ("Fallen Down The Stairs Again"), accidents on the road ("Be My Speedbump"), the future Mrs Brahma ("Brickadee And Me"), food poisoning ("The Handwich"), a rousing singalong ("Replace My Face With A Pizza Base") and, to top it all off, the now-legendary National Anthem of Goruguay... a.k.a. a death metal version of the "Tetris" theme tune, provoking much (probably drunk) Russian dancing from various members of The Enchanted who will remain nameless *COUGHdarylCOUGHtonyCOUGH* to protect the guilty...
And so, to the headliners... the filthy doom-meets-death metal noisefest of MULCH. Hailing from South Wales and only occasionally playing gigs outside Cardiff and Swansea, I figured this was my best chance to see them - and Matt had already recommended their unconventional setup - one guitar, two basses (one distorted) for the heaviest (and filthiest) sound you'll hear until Kyuss reform. It was already gone 11pm by the time they took the stage - and the crowd was looking even thinner than it was before, as Desolation had disappeared for the long journey back to Surrey - but, no worries, the set was cranked out as if they were in front of a full house at Long Beach Arena. As my only experience of Mulch was their offerings on mp3.com, I did at least recognise "Imprisoned" and "Requiem", though there were a few more off the album, as well as some new stuff which (a) should see the light of day on an EP soon, and (b) is rather shockingly good. Even better was that they listened to the crowd demanding an encore and delivered "Nightfall" and "Grey Tree" - which I'd been waiting to hear all night - word is they haven't played it in a year or so and it was still pretty much perfect, so that's something to live up to.
Naturally, at one stage in the night, 13 quid changed hands and I'm now the proud owner of "Blackened Symphony" and the "Filthy Music For Filthy People" t-shirt. If I had a gripe, it's be with the size of the crowd - why more people don't turn up is beyond me - but it seems everyone was happy at the end, Daryl especially, not to mention the three of us who found ourselves gumbying à la nights at the Fresher & Firkin / Old Vic (delete as appropriate) to "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" playing over the PA right at the end.
Impressive. The 140-odd mile round trip was worth it.