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Return To The Sabbat Waylander,Conquest Of Steel
Camden Underworld 15 November 2003

Originally, the prospect of seeing another band at the Underworld and coming away with ringing in my ears was not an exciting prospect: the Underworld can be a terrible place to have a gig if you pitch it wrong – wrong audience, bad sound, two-three huge poles restricting your view (and potentially giving you brain damage if you do manage to stage dive and are thrown against the first one) and a stage which has enough space for three people standing shoulder to shoulder. Not a great ad for the venue, but I can say one thing – all of the above become irrelevant if you turn it into a meeting of likeminded individuals – a group of people coming together with one goal – to see a band or bands they really want to see. Saturday’s ‘do’ was precisely that …

We started off with Conquest of Steel, which have a lot to offer if you like epic metal bands like Omen and Manowar. The over-use of props and a somewhat over-the-top attempt to make fun of themselves distracted too much from the music, however. It is always nice to know that not everyone takes themselves as seriously as some bands (one has been already mentioned, no prizes for guessing!), but not sure about the exact intention of the band’s frontman when declaring that Manowar aren’t capable of playing true metal (won’t repeat verbatim, as will have to have my mouth washed out!) and then proceeding to play a not bad version of Metal Warriors. I’m afraid the only other song I caught the name of was ‘Bitch of Steel’ purely for its comedy value, but, despite all this, I really enjoyed them, as did the 4-5 Greeks in the audience who I am sure will be able to recite the names of all the songs backwards….

Next up were Waylander who caught my interest at Bloodstock this year but, at the time, suffered from appalling sound. This time things were slightly better (considering the general sound quality in the venue) and the band kicked off with a good couple of songs, with interesting guitar and rhythm work from their two albums Reawakening Pride Once Lost and The Light, the Dark and the Endless Knot. Ciaran O'Hagan is an impressive frontman, bringing across the celtic origins of the band and has some good growling death metal vocals going on. Unfortunately, they started to drift somewhat half-way through the set and seemed to lose the audience. I am still convinced that they are worth listening to, but I would say that they need to make their performance a bit more snappy to keep the interest of all those who are new to their music.

As far as I could gather, this was Return to the Sabbat’s last London gig as RTTS, but Martin Walkyer cheered up all those die-hards who were about to burst into tears with several mentions of his new project, ClanDestin, which, in true Walkyer form, is an excellent play on words.

RTTS started around 9.15, with Waylander’s vocalist pushing his way to front to join the rest of the eager crowd. By this stage, the sound had ‘miraculously’ improved, but MW still had a few technical problems with feedback at the beginning, which were quickly sorted out. Throughout the show, Martin took the opportunity to express some of his genuine beliefs and thoughts on current ‘issues’, which does not sound patronising when coming from the mouth of someone as intelligent as he is. Together with his sense of humour, he made the show an unforgettable experience which, unfortunately, had to end at 10.30 (how many GAY nights are there in London???!!!!).

Catching up with Martin afterwards, you begin to realise what a modest and friendly person he is. Without the eyeliner, he no longer looks like the vocalist of a very admirable number of various bands and projects, but more like a guy you’d want to go to the pub for a beer with on a Saturday night. Looking forward to the next project in the New Year, which I am sure will be full of surprises!….

The set: Behind The Crooked Cross; The Church Bizarre; For Those Who Died; I for an Eye; The Best Of Enemies; The Clerical Conspiracy; A Cautionary Tale

Review: Emily Dgebuadze

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