Axewound + The Smoking Hearts @ Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton – Thursday 4th October 2012

The word ‘supergroup’ gets thrown around all too easily these days and, sure enough, the members of Axewound must already be sick of the tag, thanks primarily to the inclusion of one Matt Tuck amongst their ranks. The Bullet For My Valentine frontman is taking time away from the arena-filling metallers to make an altogether different noise alongside Cancer Bats vocalist Liam Cormier, Mike Kingswood of Glamour of the Kill on guitar, Joe Copcutt formerly of Rise to Remain playing bass and Jason Bowld of Pitchshifter on drums. And a fine noise it is too!

Kicking things off tonight though are southern punks, The Smoking Hearts, who confidently capture the attention of the almost full venue with their straight-up, dirty rock ‘n’ roll and feisty energy. Tracks from their debut album, Pride Of Nowhere, are interjected with a few newer tracks which suggest the band’s songwriting is developing into a broader mix of styles. In Ben Mills they have an arresting frontman, but all members give it 100% and seem to be having the time of their lives up on that stage.

Axewound may have some genuine rockstars in their line-up but this project is very clearly about having as much fun as possible. Taking elements of metal, thrash, punk and hardcore, their music never takes itself too seriously and instantly manages to create a party atmosphere on a chilly Wednesday night in Wolverhampton. Feeling a little under the weather, Matt Tuck leaves Cormier to hog the limelight, a task the Canadian takes on masterfully. With his other band, Cancer Bats, Cormier is a born performer and he shows no signs of giving anything less with Axewound as he throws himself around the stage and gets in the faces of those in the front rows.

The problem Axewound have tonight is a simple lack of music. Kicking off with title track, Vultures, the band play every song from the album in the first 40 minutes before admitting they’ve run out of songs. Luckily they have an ace up their sleeve and plough into a mighty cover of the Pantera classic, Fucking Hostile, which they dedicate to “the most metal city we’ve visited on this tour.”

For the most part their music is a meaty ball of riffs, gravelly vocals and driving rhythms which is closer to the punk rock vibe of Cancer Bats than the grandiose rock of Bullet For My Valentine. The only weak moment comes when they slow things down on Collide and Matt Tuck joins Liam on vocals. For me, the song doesn’t work at all and feels too overblown in comparison to the band’s rougher material.

The short, sharp set ends with a repeat appearance for one of the album’s highlights, Cold. Liam encourages the crowd to let loose one last time before thanking everyone for making the effort to come out for the gig. And with that, they leave all too soon but nobody leaves complaining. Axewound brought the party to the Midlands and I for one hope this supergroup stick around a little longer than most.

Photos & Review: Steve Gerrard

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