Monday night metal comes to Bristol, and The Exchange is celebrating by serving up not only a stellar three-band bill showcasing some of America’s finest underground bands but also (if the chalkboards outside are to believed) a black metal brunch too.

Sadly, local scene legend Big Jeff isn’t around to sample either tonight as he’s in hospital over in Swansea recovering from burns sustained during a fire in his flat. His image still looms large over all proceedings though thanks to the Banksy-like image of him painted on the outside of The Exchange, and raising our glasses high, everyone here at RPM would like to wish Jeff a speedy and full recovery.

Once inside the venue, it’s left to Sadistic Force, who are all the way from Austin, Texas, to kickstart proceedings and give those of us in early doors a lesson in what American blackened speed metal is all about. Taking elements of eighties thrash and adding a more modern extreme vocal twist via guitarist James Oliver and bassist Blaine Dismukes, the younger elements of the crowd (and it really is fantastic to see the teenagers in attendance getting into this kind of brutal stuff) go suitably apeshit. For me, it’s only when the trio (completed by drummer Jose Alcaraz) tear headlong into an almost recognisable cover of W.A.S.P’s ‘(Snow) Blind In Texas” that I fully engage with their particular brand of metal. Still, whatever I think, with 11 UK shows now under their collective (bullet) belts Sadistic Force has certainly made a lot of new friends, as the post-set hustle and bustle at their merch stall proves.

It’s at this point that I have to mention the between band music tonight, because whoever it is choosing the tunes they are bang on the money. Playing everything from Cock Sparrer through to MC5 by way of Van Halen, Judas Priest and UFO, it’s almost enough to make this 55-year-old gig veteran feel like a teenager once again. That task is fully completed though when Ventura, California’s Night Demon takes to the stage and unleashes the most infectious set of classic metal I’ve seen/heard since Bullet last toured the UK many, many full moons ago. Think NWOBHM meets classic Euro metal and you won’t be a million miles away from what this trio excels at. That being, putting smiles on everyone’s faces whilst also making you headbang like crazy. It’s all magnificently OTT stuff complete with anthems about chalices and Manticore, along with a demonised reworking of Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Sun Goes Down’, and an end-of-set appearance by “Rocky’ (the band’s mascot) during the band’s self-titled set closer. Night Demon themselves, made up of singer/bassist Jarvis Leatherby, guitarist Armand John Anthony (playing matching Flying V guitars) and powerhouse drummer Dusty Squires also look like they are loving every second of their sweat-drenched set, and in Letherby’s case, I love the fact he also brings a whole bunch of truly memorable tunes to proceedings via his great vocals, which in particular during the likes of set opener ‘Screams In The Night’ bring Sean Harris in his prime to mind.  Look at times tonight I was right back in 1982 just down the road in Colston Hall watching the likes of Wolf, The Rods, Tank, Motorhead, and Vardis, yet Night Demon never once sounded dated or contrived, as sometimes can happen with modern metal bands. I admit I (along with my traveling amigos) was really there to see only one band tonight, but Night Demon was definitely a most welcome studded wristband up the ass kind of surprise. Glorious stuff!  

Author: Johnny ‘Nosferatu’ Hayward

Sweet baby Jesus, what kind of Hell have I gotten myself into? Bristol on a school night getting all Satanic on this the most Metal Monday of the year. After a splendidly entertaining double support slot was done and dusted it was now time for some diabolical Metal in the shape of the mighty Midnight. As the trio hit the stage to a PA crackling with demonic debauchery the Exchange air is filled with the faint whiff of patchouli oil, fausty denim, and sweat-drenched leather as the evil children of the Severn are out in force, windmilling and headbanging with clenched fists and horned hands like whirly dervishes for what is, without doubt, the hottest ticket in punk/metal for decades. 

You can have your O2s full of trendy kids slamdancing to whatever safe noise is coming out of the pages of metal magazines, the underground is throbbing with dark energy and menace courtesy of this howling hellbound – demonic diabolical filth from Ohio we call Midnight.

Midnight goes full tilt right from the off its ‘Unholy & Rotten’ and the band just get on with handing Bristol their backside on a platter of rapid riffs, hacking and slashing and paying homage to the good and the greats who went before them from Motorhead and venom through Discharge and GBH this is a beautiful noise indeed.  With a set list littered with demonic tomes from all points of the pentagram and their illustrious career thus far, it’s relentless as ‘Fucking Speed And Darkness’ collides with ‘Sex Withcery’ there are no gimmicks other than the hoods as for the music it is savage and brutal as it is beautiful and of the moment as the world turns on itself and people turn inwards to bite at each other this is the soundtrack. Cronos would be proud of his legacy and influence.

This is pure ‘Satanic Royalty’ and ‘Black Rock And Roll’ is mesmeric and brutal as the trio kicks the living shit out of their instruments as they give it everything they have and don’t pause for breath nor stand still for a single heartbeat, Just over an hour with barely a pause to tune-up and on we speed. The audience takes it up a notch or two and gives as good as they get.

With steam rising from the pit, the kids go nuts as the band responds by playing faster and one feeds off the other. This is restoring one’s faith in hard and heavy music. When done right – when done with this level of passion and drive – when received in good faith – those who know just know and all around its Cheshire cat grins and devil horns raised aloft because tonight was as good as a Metal Monday night could possibly get with no exception (other than if Slayer had turned up to play Hell Awaits in its entirety Or Venom to whip through At War) this was pure unadulterated Filth and Joy all in one studded gauntlet. 

Hail Satan and Hail Midnight there are never enough bullet belts, chains, studded gauntlets, Dobermans, fishnets, fire, pentagrams, upside-down crosses, and rumbling thunder. I love it loud and Midnight is loud! If you can, go see them – it will make you happy and fill your soul with pure fuckin evil.

Author: Dom ‘The Blade’ Daley