Defenders Of The Faith IV, Glasgow Barrowlands

It’s a freezing cold night in Glasgow and there is already a massive line of people waiting outside the (in)famous Barrowland Ballroom as we arrive in time for doors opening. We have been told under no circumstances to be late, as apparently opening act Hell are something a little bit special (well according to CB Editor Iain anyway), even if they were only going to be onstage for a disappointing twenty minutes. Already having high expectations for the other three bands on the bill: Glasgow’s own Bleed From Within, the mighty Carcass and headliners Amon Amarth, it was shaping up to be a very fun night.

Hell @ Defenders Of The Faith 2013Within seconds of the lights dimming and Hell taking the stage, it was clear this band were going to split the crowd. Looking around the venue there were people going absolutely crazy for these resurrected NWOBHM heroes… and there were others whose facial expressions simply screamed “what the fuck am I watching?”… Thankfully the former was most definitely in the vast majority. It is rare that you see a crowd warm to a opening support band so quickly, but from the very first song pits had opened up and eyes are wide open in awe at front man David Bower’s stage presence.

Since their return to the fray in 2011, after a break of over two decades, Hell have garnered some rave reviews and it’s not hard to see why, their professionalism and theatrically onstage is faultless. The songs are fast paced, catchy and the band themselves look fantastic, adorned in full Gothic clothing and white face paint. Bower spends the majority of the set running around the stage, at one point even jumping down into the crowd and joining in the pit… When he is not moving around with a sense of energy most can only dream of, he is down on his knees and whipping himself to screams of pain during ‘Blasphemy and the Master’. This latter part of the set maybe didn’t appeal to the entirety of the Glasgow audience, but all in all, an amazing set and a perfect way to open up Defenders of the Faith IV.

Bleed From Within @ Defenders Of The Faith 2013Next up were local lads Bleed From Within. They seemed a slightly strange addition to the lineup, but if they felt they were out of place, they certainly didn’t show it. Opening their set with ‘Colony’, fresh from their new album Uprising, they faced the crowd with a genuine appreciation of playing a venue which meant so much to them growing up. There was a slightly disappointing reaction considering they were playing their home town, as the crowd seemed to have thinned out a little after Hell had finished. This did not stop the boys playing a blinder of a set however. Playing material solely from the new album, they attacked each track with passion and although still not convinced that their death-core style, breakdown heavy music was right for the crowd, they still put on a fantastic show… They just might have been better placed before Hell.

It did seem strange, the response from the hometown crowd. When the Defenders juggernaut rolled into London a couple of nights later (where these pictures were taken) Bleed From Within got an awesome reception as they did their best to blow the roof off the HMV Forum. The response was initially a little muted but the band soon got the place jumping, with frontman Scott clearly delighted with the reaction “It doesn’t matter if you love us or you think we’re shite, I want to thank every one of you standing there for coming and checking us out”.

Carcass @ Defenders Of The Faith were lucky enough to catch Carcass at the start of the month when they headlined Damnation Festival in Leeds, so a second encounter with them in less than a month was something of a dream! I dunno, you wait years and years for Carcass shows then two come along at once. Opening with ‘Buried Dreams’ the room was soon filled right back up as fans gathered to see these Liverpool legends. Frustratingly the sound suddenly seemed really low… you know there is something wrong when you are watching a band like Carcass and you can easily have a conversation with the person next to you without shouting directly into their ear. This didn’t seem to phase the crowd too much though, as they were still singing along to an immense set packed with tracks from not only the band’s awesome latest album, Surgical Steel, but material which spanned across their entire 28 year career. Original members of the band Jeff Walker and Bill Steer receive arguably the biggest cheers of the night when they are onstage and collectively the band work towards making this one of the best gigs of 2013 so far.

Finally the time has come for the headliners of the night as Viking metallers, Amon Amarth take to the stage. An epic banner is raised high above the heads of the Sons of Odin, showing Loki in battle with Thor and they kick off their set with ‘Father of the Wolf’ from their 2013 release, Deceiver Of The Gods. It only takes a matter of seconds before the crowd is fist pumping along with the bearded Swedes and not much longer before they all to the floor in unison to mime the rowing on a Viking Long-Ship during the mighty ‘Guardians of Asgaard’. No one can fault the dedication of their fans!

Amon Amarth @ Defenders Of The Faith 2013 (1)

Nor can you fault the ability of Amon Amarth to put together a crowd pleasing setlist. They have a formidable back catalogue, and this was a “greatest hits” show containing all the big songs from across their nine studio albums. Front man Johan Hegg, whilst looking the part of a Viking, certainly doesn’t possess their aggressive nature as he talks to the crowd in a way that could earn him the title of the nicest man in metal if he’s not careful.

Amon Amarth @ Defenders Of The Faith 2013 (3)Hegg’s onstage banter and encouragement to drink alongside the band goes down an absolute winner with the Glasgow audience (not that a Glasgow audience needs much encouragement to drink) as we are led into the final track of the evening, ‘In Search of Vikings’. It is as this point that he asks for the whole crowd to sing along, claiming “it doesn’t matter if you don’t know the words… It’s death metal. No one will know the difference!”

Metal Hammer’s Defenders of the Faith tour has once again proved to be an incredible night of music, with 4 very different bands all flying the flag for pure heavy fucking metal. By the time Amon Amarth left the stage and the houselights came up we knew we’d witnessed something a bit special, and there was an agreement between the team after the show that this had be on one of the gigs of the year. Awesome times…

Roll on Defenders of the Faith V.