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"The Fighting Cocks has long been a worthy home of the up and coming live music scene in the South London area. Countless bands have played on their way to spreading their name and moving on to bigger audiences. A vibrant scene is clearly flourishing and a community within the heavy metal world seems to be very evident down here in the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames. That community was out in full force as local boys IMPERIUM chose The Fighting Cocks as the venue to host their EP launch party and Bloodstock warm up show. Backed by a bill of fellow London bands Halberd, Bangover and Thrasherwolf this sold out show had the potential to be one of those gigs that gets spoken about for years.
Halberd wasted no time in whipping the packed room into a scorching frenzy. Their blend of thrash metal with big dose of death and groove was eagerly lapped up. Frontman Casey oozes boundless energy and possesses a strong presence. His dramatic yet amiable demeanour offer an entertaining watch. Gifted musicians and with a tightness that many would yearn for they had the ability to mix their catchy songs with a crushingly heavy feel. Make no mistake Halberd hit the floor running and they made it clear this evening was going to be a raucous, fiery and above all entertaining celebration of Heavy music.
Heavy metal is more than a passion for many people. A way of life you might say. If ever there was a band that embody that sentiment and their unyielding zeal for their craft it is Thrasherwolf. The sight of a pumped-up frontman Daniel Lucas relishing the occasion such as this special night of heavy metal is a joy to witness. Decked in his battle jacket this enigmatic leader of the wolf pack this enigmatic leader of the wolf pack is a striking focal point. His limitless enthusiasm is radiated through the band who absolutely slay. Bouncing around with such vigour the shirtless Raimond on the bass guitar makes a mockery of the limited space up on the stage. The addition of new drummer Zaq to the pack shows the band possess an assured fellowship that is clear to see and feel. Racing through old favourites such as the anthemic ‘Good Old-Fashioned Violence’, ‘The Pack’ and the brilliantly hefty ‘The Vortex’ the awesome sound within the Fighting Cocks seems to elevate these modern thrash songs to higher reaches of heaviness. New song ‘Fragility’ goes down brilliantly and sits perfectly alongside the older cuts such as the brutally crunchy ‘A Thousand Eyes’. Thrasherwolf never disappoint in the live setting and again this jubilant offering further cements the fact that they continue to trade in joyous, infectious uplifting Heavy Fuckin Metal.
Bangover took the thrash baton and as ever executed a lively powerful set. Theirs is stellar, ambitious, and fun style of thrash metal and being the seasoned campaigners in the live setting their confidence and positive character doesn’t go unnoticed. The scorching intensity created by Thrasherwolf is effortlessly maintained by these fellow Londoners. ‘Close Encounters of the Thrash Kind’ is an outstanding and classy thrash metal song whilst ‘Blood of Brakus’ sounded immense and a worthy anthem for the friendly violent fun of the erupting pits.
The Fighting Cocks is a home from home for IMPERIUM. Always at ease and relaxed that calmness comes across and they always deliver killer live shows. However, tonight in front of a feverish crowd who’ve been suitably warmed up and treated by the three opening bands this might not be a walk in the park for IMPERIUM. However within a few seconds of opener ‘Desperate Screams’ any fears are suitably crushed. Ben Porter cuts an imposing figure orchestrating from the front. Compelling and gripping he allows his aura to be absorbed to the crowd who continue to lap up the ferocious, pummelling being administered. The new Ep closer ‘Decieved’ follows and to say the punishment is unrelenting would be an understatement of seismic proportions. Scott Lomas on the rhythm guitar is one hell of a riff master and commandingly throws out riff after razor sharp riff after crushing bouncing riff. This is devastating stuff and the tone with which Scott whips up these riffs by ensures these colossal slabs of catchiness are indelibly lodged in your head. The moody slow burning menace of ‘Ragnorok’ allows some much-needed respite and shows that IMPERIUM have a fair few weapons in their groove fuelled thrash metal arsenal. A colossally emotion charged ‘The Passing’ is simply beautiful. This modern-day thrash metal epic is spinetingling stuff. Beautifully crafted and played with such feeling to hear this live was very special indeed. The anthem, yep that one. ‘Here Comes the Night’ follows and if ever there was a song for a night like this, this riff fuelled celebration of good times is that song. It never fails to hit that spot and goes down as you’d expect……..intensely lapped up! Hardip on lead guitar effortlessly dances up and down the fretboard with real panache and flair whilst Rapha on the bass is loving it and clearly buzzing off the crowd. Smiling and bouncing around his connection with James on drums is the strident beating force that pushes the IMPERIUM live sound onwards.
No one wants this to end and a surprising cover of ‘Paranoid’ continues to keep the pits moving. Here we have the new breed doffing their thrash caps to the four guys that started it all over fifty years ago whilst injecting their own character and pulsing energy into such an iconic metal anthem. Frankly its sets like this where you feel privileged to bear witness to and be part of. Tonight, IMPERIUM were devasting. Tight, unified and rightly so showing why they are continuing that upwards trajectory that they are rightfully journeying on. This was truly special night and will be spoken of in glowing terms for a long time to come.
Heavy metal can pick you up. It can lift you. When it is as life affirming as this show has been it’s a truly wondrous thing. All four bands played their part in the success of the show. Its blatantly clear on the strength of this night that the London metal scene is in rude health. Long may this small vibrant part of the wider metal community thrive and be celebrated."
- Robbie, The Thrash Metal Album Of The Fortnight Club (August 2022)
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