Sacred Reich + Damnation’s Hammer + Kingpin @ The Cathouse, Glasgow

Date: Friday, 28th July 2017
Review: Pete Mutant

The Cathouse has been a mainstay in the Glasgow music scene since 1990. For 27 years the city seen a myriad of sensational acts take the stage and thrill the music loving crowds that have gathered at this pillar of the hard, heavy and alternative music scene. A pillar with which is held up by several non-metaphoric pillars which have always been worthy adversaries, worth dodging when the pits get a little out of control. It had been a while since I was last at this venue, for a gig which was for Carnifex back at the tail end of 2015, and I was glad to be back.

On this night, we had the mighty Sacred Reich coming from sunny Arizona to the unpredictable Summer conditions of Scotland. We were celebrating ’30 Years Of Ignorance’, that’s three decades of razor sharp thrash that has never dulled since it was released to the world. Sacred Reich haven’t released an album since 1996’s ‘Heal’ so it was guaranteed that we were going on a trip down memory lane. They are, after all, a band that hasn’t felt the need to produce any new music and have basked in the glory of their earlier achievements whilst retaining a die hard fan base who have all but accepted this as simply being the way of it. Why fix something that ain’t broke, as they say?

Sacred Reich are some top guys who know how to keep the fans sweet. Before the festivities began, they dedicated some time for a meet and greet with the fans, signing one piece of memorabilia per person at no extra cost to the fanatical punter. This was not something they had to do of course, but they did it anyways and gave each fan, willing to queue, a few minutes of one on one time with some of their favourite dudes on the planet. Stellar stuff right there with a real touch of class.

The Cathouse floor wasn’t anywhere near its capacity by the time local hardcore/crossover masters of disaster Kingpin [4.0/5] took the stage to open proceedings. Kingpin are a band that I had seen several times before at several different locations in Glasgow. As a band, they are always up for a gig and have taken the stage with some of the hardest going acts around, dealing the hammer blows with some ferocious rapidity which can quickly change into a slow stomping and merciless beatdown. They kicked off the show with ‘The Vultures Circle’ off their recent EP of the same title. The snare drove the tempo at a blistering pace as the quintet fired on all cylinders. They blazed through to the second track ‘Bite Your Tongue’ where we got a sense overloading lead passage from guitarist Neevo, the first of the night. His leadwork was a demonstration of note for note perfection, so expertly executed before seamlessly transforming into some groove laden and chunky rhythm.

By the fourth track ‘No Excuse’, vocalist Lev commanded ‘mon doon’ to those who were standing to the side, safely sheltered behind the rails. The floor was quite spacious but there were several audience members down at the front, willing to experience the full on assault up close and personally. Kingpin have always delivered but there was something different about tonight. It could have been the new tunes, it could have been the better sound quality but whatever it was, it was proving to be a memorable performance from the Glaswegians. Lev was up to his usual animated antics as the band thundered on, cutting a focused image of raw attitude and deep personal feel. Like the mighty King Kong, Lev beat his chest for Kingpin as we were getting crushed by the weight of the breakdowns. From beatdowns into neck breaking rhythms then into leads which, again, were absolutely bang on from Neevo and, when accentuated by the use of wah, the pitch of the noise would send the hairs up at the back of the neck to a standing ovation. It’s hard not to love what Kingpin can do, and will do.

Being a mainstay in the Glasgow underground scene, Lev knows the trials and tribulations that bands must go through and he made a statement paying homage to all the bands that make it what it is. Soppy stuff over, Kingpin belted into ‘Shiver’ for some more fast and furious music. There’s was no let up in the energy that belted out from the band. Some more tight shifts and breaks tinged with some excellent wah driven lead kept the juices flowing before ending their set with ‘Chains’, another taste of their recent EP. That was some start to the night and next up was the four headed hydra of Lancashire’s own Damnation’s Hammer.

The Vultures Circle
Bite Your Tongue
Fuck Off
No Excuse
Last Warning
They Serve Themselves

Damnation’s Hammer [3.0/5] were not a band that had come into my field of knowledge before I had seen the lineup. At first I thought: Demolition Hammer, and was extremely excited at the prospect of seeing them again so soon but alas, it was just my brain being too damn eager to believe the unbelievable. Damnation’s Hammer, on the other hand, were a solid outfit that had plenty of quality (with the occasional dip) and a major stage presence so it wasn’t all that disappointing. Good thing too, as the crowd were starting to build now and there were some fresh punters to entertain. They are no strangers to Glasgow, and have played at the Cathouse before, so they knew what they had to do to win over the growing crowd.

Having released their second full album ‘Unseen Planets, Deadly Spheres’ in July, it was expected to get a decent swatch of it. A swatch I say? More like a full on demonstration; although curfew would prevent us from getting the full album experience, we were certainly knocked out with a heavy dose of it. They opened their set with the title track of the album and immediately I got a sense of what they were about. They were nowhere near as fast and shifting as Kingpin were, but then again, they were never going to be anything like them. They were, however, an exceedingly heavy band that combined elements of thrash with some doom laden sludgery which had quite a NOLA type vibe. At points the music would crawl along, stomp by stomp with a minor switch in tempo every now and then. It wasn’t anything special though and a lot of it lacked impact but they would progressively get better as the set ploughed on.

The second track ‘Deathcraft’ didn’t go down much better than the first as the drums seemed to work outwith the rhythm built by the bass and guitars; a shame as this was one of the better tracks off their latest effort. There was some good lead work which salvaged some of the song but it wasn’t, as a whole, very fulfilling. Tim Preston’s vocals were definitely based around the thrash persuasion, you know that sort of Hetfieldesque ‘oh yeah!!!’ kind of stuff which didn’t pull many thrills but it matched up well when things were working more seamlessly. ‘Entrance To The Final Chamber’ was one of the highlights of their set as the backtrack built the atmosphere, creating a wall of noise before the notes harmonised only to be obliterated by the collective thunder of the band. Wah seemed to be the tool of abuse tonight as some of the passages were elevated to greater heights with its use and it was utilised well by Damnation’s Hammer, even for the more melodic passages. They ended their set with the skull collapsing ‘Hammers Of War’ and it gave us one last blast of their music. It was a better end than a beginning but it wasn’t anything that would make me go mental. Thoroughly decent though, they seemed like a good group of guys playing music that they loved so who could have a problem with that?

Unseen Planets, Deady Spheres
Temple of the Descending Gods
Entrance to the Final Chamber
Hammers of War

Main event time and Sacred Reich [4.5/5] were bringing back the good times with an arsenal of perfected weaponry, well and truly honed and polished to the point where I doubt that it’s an effort to play anymore. They came to a packed audience who were desperately packing forward as they took the stage. Phil Rind et al had big cheesy grins on their faces as they were welcomed to Glasgow with a roar of approval from the ecstatic audience. What better way to celebrate ’30 Years Of Ignorance’ than to open up with the title track of the album that started it all. The music was so precise but this did not detract from the sensations that were provoked by witnessing this feast of thrash. They went in hard and blew mind after mind with their potent riffery and awesome performance. The pits were a little slow to start and required some motivation from Phil after questioning if the crowd actually felt that this was a Friday night. We all just needed a push but that push led to shoves which led to bodies flying about all over the place with a multitude of crowd surfers getting involved. We played right into their hands.

For the third track we went to ‘Surf Nicaragua’ for ‘One Nation’ before being thrown into ‘The American Way’ with ‘Love Hate Relationship’ and it was just an absolutely stellar flow of music which was being eaten up by the audience, every morsel, without a spare scrap remaining. The band’s smiles were infectious, maybe even a little sadistic as the pits raged on and on without much let up. The notes were blazing as pinched harmonics were catapulted into the sonic bedlam via some more delicious wah, courtesy of the phenom that is Wiley Arnett. There were so many riffs which were galvanised by the destructive percussion from Greg Hall, made up of supersonic snare smashes and ballistic blasts; twisting and spiraling out and brutalising those from the front row to the back.

We were moving in and out of the first three albums without touching upon the band’s last studio effort ‘Heal’ – for some reason they don’t play anything from that one – as ‘I Don’t Know’ flew into ‘Free’ then ‘Independent’ we got our taste of their third album. After that a siren blared which sent alarm bells ringing. We were about to be treated with Sacred Reich’s infamous cover of ‘War Pigs’ and, as we were reaching the close of the set, the crowd were pushing their energy levels to their limits. It was all worth it though as the crowd joined together in vocal harmony, filling in for Phil who barely got a word in. It was an amazing experience to be a part of as we all joined as one to pay tribute to Black Sabbath and to Sacred Reich as well.

We went back to ‘American Way’ with the title track before it was time for the encore. It wasn’t much of a wait till the band came back on and took us back to ‘Ignorance’ for the bulldozing ‘Death Squad’ and things just got more ridiculous in the crowd. The Kingpin bassist was atop the shoulders of some other good time nutjob as they went through the crowd like a freight train. Hilarious stuff. As an additional send off, they asked the crowd what we wanted and we got it as ‘Surf Nicaragua’ brought the set, and the night, to a close. It was a smashing demonstration of good old American thrash. There was never going to be much of a surprise with the set but it didn’t matter, when you’re at a gig like that, it’s all about the good times of which there was plenty.

One Nation
Love Hate Relaionship
Victim Of Demise
Violent Solutions
State Crimes
Who”s To Blame
I Don’t Know
War Pigs
The American Way
Death Squad
Surf Nicaragua