Warming to death core metal heroes
As I headed to the Smokefreerockquest at Theatre Royal on Saturday night, I was a little apprehensive. Not one for headbanging music I was worried I'd find myself surrounded by a bunch of teenagers with whom I'd have no idea how to relate.
How wrong I was.
I turned up, flashed my special black wristband and was escorted to the secret world of "backstage".
It was noticeably calm when I arrived, despite there being only 15 minutes till the first band performed.
Super straightened hair with skinny jeans (both boys and girls) were contrasted by letterman jackets, obvious op-shop finds and T-shirts splattered with, what I assume, was fake blood.
The blood caught my eye, I somehow knew these would be heavy metal heroes. Could they persuade me to listen without cringing?
The boys from Buried in Blood described themselves as the underdogs from Mot' High.
"We will fight hard, we will fight strong," they told me. The band, Julian Mittmann, Ben Eastwood, Harry Alexander, Harry Townsend and Marli Andersen, were nervous and a bit anxious to get on stage.
They described their music as a mix of death core and metal core, similar to a band called Dying Metal – "but no-one's ever heard of them".
Buried in Blood set themselves up and it only took a few chords before the crowd began to rock back and forth, maniacally throwing their heads around.
I was impressed – these guys were good. Lead singer Marli seemed to have the screaming-singing-thing down to a fine art. This was confirmed after the performance, when I was told he can talk about the vocal technique required to sing that way. The boys left the stage looking exhilarated.
They said although it may not have been their best performance, they were pleased.
The moshing was great, they said.
"Moshing out's 50 per cent of the fun" guitarist Julian told me. And the other 50 per cent? "I haven't figured that out yet!"
The range of different music types over the night was brilliant. There was folk, indie, rock, they covered it all.
I raised my eyebrows a few times, including when a young boy with his guitar strung over his chest full of tats headed out on stage. His lack of clothing was explained in a single sentence before they started – "Someone stole my shirt".
The last band of the night also had me laughing, if not a with a little confusion. After making the crowd get down on their knees they began to relay one of Hollywood's saddest ever scenes – the death of Mufasa in The Lion King. "Run away Simba, run away and never return." It was pretty heavy stuff to have before the start of a song.
The night was full of optimism, high fives, hugs and all round support. None bemoaned the other bands and in fact, the only thing that seemed to wipe the smile from their faces, though only for a minute, was the fact they weren't able to go out into the crowd.
Buried in Blood may not have won an award on the night, but I was certainly rooting for them and I have a far greater appreciation for heavy metal. I may even look up Dying Metal on YouTube.