Terror’s most recent album ‘The 25th Hour’ has seen the band return to a harder, faster, meaner, and more stripped down approach to Hardcore. In that respect I liken it to Frank Carter and his return to creating pissed off music with his Rattlesnakes project. Any Scott Vogel is good, but a pissed off sounding Scott Vogel is really good. We headed down to Manchester to catch them on their tour to support ‘The 25th Hour’. As expected, it was all stage-dives and high-fives…
Bitter Youth were the first band on the bill, who were on way too early for us to catch. However, the Liverpool lads are worth checking out, releasing a really solid demo last year in the vein of Survival, Mind Control, Eisberg, & Unjust. Plus, the demo is technically free, so there is no excuse not to grab it from here
In a swap to the advertised schedule, Twitching Tongues played next rather than Wisdom In Chains. At first I was secretly happy about this, because I haven’t managed to ‘get’ Twitching Tongues. From hearing the last couple of tracks in their set though, this may need to be given another try, because what I heard was really good.
Wisdom In Chains kick straight into the stomping pace of ‘We’re Not Helping’, a track which within the first few lines has the gang lyric of ‘Fuck the world!’ before speeding along to a shouted chorus, a bridge of ‘Woahs’ and then a crazy guitar solo. It’s an old, ageing style of Hardcore that is perhaps a dying breed; Music from the streets about skinhead gangs, fighting, daily struggles and love for Hardcore. Much like the bands that have tread this path before them such as Agnostic Front & Skarhead, I find their material has no middle ground; it is either fucking brilliant or rather tiresome. Choosing to follow ‘We’re Not Helping’ with newer track ‘When We Were Young’ was evidence of this, as the second track was painfully slow, almost boring.
Wisdom In Chains did find their groove though, and for the most part their set was blinding, upping the pace with tracks like ‘Skinhead Gang’ and ‘Fighting In The Streets’ which let their true colours shine through; laying down tracks with a furious pace that pack a mean punch, only slowing the tempo to let the gang vocals ring out. When they do this, the pack of Wisdom In Chains fans at the front go absolutely mental, bouncing around like footage of the crowds at old Sex Pistols gigs. They end their set amazingly strong with ‘The Land Of Kings’ which is a love-letter to their home of Pennsylvania, followed by ‘Chasing The Dragon’, a song they dedicate to Hardcore legends Sick Of It All. Mean and fast paced, this is the highlight of their set and is a firm favourite with the crowd. This track is also a love letter, but one addressed to Hardcore, even having the line ‘Last night Hardcore saved my life’. Wisdom In Chains may not be for everyone, but they wear their hearts on their sleeve, and for that alone they are worthy of your attention.
Terror arrive on stage with minimal fuss, apart from frontman Scott Vogel, who is pacing backwards and forwards on the stage like an animal. Use whichever adjective you want, but you can visibly see that he is pumped. Amped. Psyched. Hyped. Popping. It is something that remains visibly noticeable within the frontman throughout his set, and something that I find admirable. His eyes genuinely light up when a guitar riff starts, or the stomping drumbeat of a breakdown drops. I know it’s a chance to live a dream for many, but band/tour life is a hard slog, so for someone who has arguably been at the forefront of modern Hardcore for this long to still be this in love with what he is doing, is extremely gratifying to see. It is also infectious. As Terror kick off with ‘One With The Underdogs’, it remains extremely difficult for people to stand still, even for wall-flowers such as myself. The song is pitch perfect, sounding better than it does on record, and regardless of whether you think they are a ‘good’ bad or not you can’t deny their live performance. The amount of times I have seen them is probably in the double digits by now, and they never disappoint. Tracks like ‘Stick Tight’ see even more intense action, as the crunchy guitar riffs act as a signal to send bodies flailing and flipping off the stage over the top of the front few rows of the crowd.
New material such as ‘The Solution’ sounds extremely mean, and the chorus is almost riot inducing! As the set drives forward, we are treated to a potted history of Terror and their material. Tracks like ‘Live By The Code’ are brutal, uncompromising and thrashy, while ‘Return To Strength’ gives the band an opportunity to flex their musicianship, choosing to slow down the tempo slightly, making the main riff even more killer. They follow this up with ‘Overcome’ a track which I had not heard for years. When ‘One With The Underdogs’ was originally released, I wasn’t actually that keen on this song, but hearing it here seemed to change that. Choosing again to slow the tempo gave the song some real groove amidst all the fast paced heaviness throughout the rest of the set, and this tempo enabled the breakdown to pack a real punch.
As they rattle songs off, one shot after another, you are reminded that Terror have a great arsenal of heavy hitting Hardcore songs, and they all work amazing live. ‘Keep Your Mouth Shut’ was fantastic, still sounding as pissed off as it always has, and we are treated to some guest vocal work from Broken Teeth’s vocalist as well as the Born From Pain vocalist, who just happens to be part of their road crew. The fast pace of the majority of Terror songs is what you come to expect, but the juxtaposition of the slower songs makes them stand out, and ‘You’re Caught’ is another song that gets an amazing response from the insatiable crowd. ‘No Time For Fools’ and ‘Spit My Rage’ hurtle along at breakneck shredding speed, the latter seeing the Twitching Tongues guitarist take the mic for the bile inducing vocals in the bridge. ‘Mind At War’ is a furious slab of Hardcore riffage and perhaps delivers the most brilliant, mean breakdown of the entire night. With their set closer ‘Keepers Of The Faith’ Terror help reinforce the message raised by Wisdom In Chains earlier in the evening; That for many of us, as dramatic as it sounds, Hardcore has ’saved our life’. This is perhaps appropriately celebrated during Terror’s final song as the room erupts in activity, and people fly off the stage from all directions, causing one final act of joyful carnage.
“Only true believers remain. All the blood, the sweat we gave, You can’t deny we’re the keepers of the faith…”
Author: Tim Bridges