Despite not being a sell-out the Wulfrun is like a sauna by the time I arrive, with a steady stream of bare chested men, steaming, literally and scantily clad ladies jostling for liquid refreshments at the bar.
Devildriver are currently touring to promote ‘Winter Kills’, led by the unmistakable Dez Fafara, whom I last saw in his original incarnation of Coal Chamber at Donington last year.
The one support band I did see were Sylosis, heavy and fast but for me the sound was very drum based, and the guitars couldn’t be heard due to the bass drum pounding. A short set but stand out track ‘All Is Not Well’ suggests that they are actually heavier when playing slower more melodic songs. However we are told that the drummer is a last minute stand-in and the gig was in doubt at one stage.
Opening with ‘Head On To Heartache’ the crowd instantly go mad for Devildriver, and the volume is ground shaking. I have heard they hold a record for the venue as being one of the loudest bands to play here I’ve no reason not to believe this isn’t true.
Devildriver are known for having a ‘pit’, where fans run in circles, and a few braver souls stand in the centre and admire and tonight, despite being indoors and relatively small, is no different. “Open the pit” is the instruction and they duly oblige before ‘Hold Back The Day’. Thankfully for the observer at the back, there’s someone with a huge mohican, and so it’s easy to see the speed at which the pit is going but observing how fast the mohican is moving.
“I don’t talk much on the mike, I’d sooner just get on with things” and that’s exactly what they do. At some stage a fan has obviously been hit. “Is she alright? Was that a fight? Hey, I won’t stand for that, if someone goes down by you, pick them up, if someone hits you, punch them back” which seems quite ironic as ‘I Could Care Less’ is played next, during which Dez anoints the crowd from a bottle of water.
The band is full on. ‘Sail’ is an Awolnation cover which Dez says he heard on “my kid’s radio and thought we gotta do that song”.
Finally the crowd is once again told to “open the pit”, and the houselights are put on for all to see “hey you with the mohican, push back” until nearly half the floor is opened and then it begins. ‘Meet The Wretched’ sees the biggest, fastest pit that the Wulfrun has surely seen. It must be rough in there as a few brave souls start to clamber out and towards the doors for air. “Thank you very much” the lights come on and that’s it.
No encore, no ridiculous waiting for a crowd shouting for more, but a simple straight at you set- seventy minutes of pure rock, metal, madness, thrash call it what you will.
Finally, full marks yet again to the Wulfrun. Plenty of bars, including a ‘pop-up’ bar in the foyer by the merchandise stand, and a raised platform at the back for those with mobility impairments, add to that free parking in the town and there’s nothing to fault it. With the bigger sister upstairs, this venue complex is the best in the Midlands, or as some would try to have it, Greater Birmingham.
Review – Glenn Raybone
Photos – Steve Kilmister