Once a frequent feature and desirable last minute addition to gigs in the London extreme metal scene, some time has passed since grind anarchistsThe Rotted have headlined the capital (although they were eleventh hour supports for Norwegian black metallers Carpathian Forest late last year) but tonight appreciators of the death metal and punk act salivate over another potentially rare headlining show.
Support comes fromDripback, a death metal/hardcore hybrid spawned in 2010 by members from London local opening acts approximately half a decade ago, such as Ted Maul, Labrat and River Freshney. Selections from their debut album 'Failed Futures' released at the dawn of this year are aired out to the beer-swelled crowd. Their take on extreme metal is far removed from the surprising or passionate with threads of grind and thrash metal glimmering within the aforementioned musical fusion.Frustratingly for Dripback, the sound arms the music with an unflattering abrasiveness that spoils the members' combined efforts as it suffocates their instrument's clarity. Nonetheless, their London working class stage presence echoes the headliners and in that way, they make for a fair appetizer.
Opening with the vehement 'Surrounded By Skulls', a surge of adoration greets The Rotted as they commence their set. The stage presence of the great Brits, particularly vocalist Ben McCrow, is effortlessly intense with the full potential of movement caged by the minute stage. The meddling of contemporary death metal, grindcore and punk is one that mirrors the pissed off DIY attitude of the four piece accurately, proudly eschewing polished professionalism. Blastbeats alongside d-beat drumming intertwine is the order of the day with a dual vocalist attackequipping the music with three clear voices a drunken punk croon, a death metal rasp and grindcore shrieks.
The setlist focuses on the potently punkier second album 'Ad Nauseaum', entertaining the fans with vomit-stained tales of social frustration and miserable toxicology encapsulated in music that raises the death metal horns at bands like Amebix and Discharge. The pounding 'Surrounded By Skulls', the fiercely-defiant 'Non-Serviam' and Motörhead-inspired 'Motörbastards' illustrates how far The Rotted have ventured since their goregrind days under the Gorerotted moniker. However, it must be stated that prime cuts from first album 'Get Dead Or Die Trying'secure the more boisterous fan approval, namely 'The Howling' and 'Get Dead or Die Trying'. 'Rotted Fucking Earth', a single released last year, submits a glimpse into the band's possible future, still heavily addicted on the visceral punk sound. Naturally, the audience reaction throughout is thoroughly supportive, airing their appreciation with a reasonably sized mosh pit.
The amicability of McCrow's straight-talking stage banter is another victory for these Englishmen. Their keen devotion to self-sufficiency in dubious musical times is nothing short of admirable, reflected further in McCrow's preamble to 'Apathy in the UK' where he takes aim at the half-arsed attitude of the contemporary Britishmetal scene(The unjustifiable gradual thinning of attendees as the night grinds on is testament to this). Instead of wasting everyone's time with an encore, McCrowannounces that they would circumvent the predicable rockstar rubbish by playing continuously to the end of their set without vacating the stage only to return moments later. 'Fear and Loathing in Old London Town' and 'Nothin' but a Nosebleed' are a solid one-two punch combo to seal the evening perfectly before the appropriately spilling out on to the streets of Camden Town for drunken Saturday night debauchery.
The Rotted may not play the capital as frequently as they used to but they will return later in September with Belgian grinders LengTch'e. For now though, they leave behind them a spectacle that champions bloody knuckles, red-rimmed eyes and raspy throats over complacency and a lack of conviction.