Live Review: HECK, Raketkanon and The Damn Heavy – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham – 11/03/2016

After building a strong following for their notorious live shows, as well as overcoming the unfortunate legal hiccup with their former moniker, tonight is a celebration for local mathcore kings HECK. With their debut album ‘Instructions’ finally out, the quartet are here to kick off a headline run in their hometown of Nottingham.

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Tonight’s openers come in the form of local group The Damn Heavy. Despite the intimidating name, the quartet being a vintage, blues-y rock sound to tonight’s proceedings. Opening numbers ‘Big Bad City’ and ‘Rollin’ & Tumblin’’ ease us in with distorted but smooth vocals and swaggering guitars, while ’Hound Dog’ contains wailing guitars and a bouncy tempo that wins over the growing crowd. They provide a contrast to tonight’s reckless and chaotic headliners that frankly makes them look like your typical classic rock band you’d find in your local on a Saturday night. Perhaps not the most ideal band to warm up the crowd. (2/5)

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Thankfully Belgium’s Raketkanon get things back on track. Offering a mix of down-turned experimental noise-rock sounds fitting for tonight. Unhinged in their approach, the combination of effects-layered vocals, unstable synth and assaulting guitar riffs provides a much-needed energy. Vocalist Pieter-Paul Devos is confrontational whilst his band mates are suitably jagged in their output. Sharp guitars blare throughout against battering drums and twisting synth making for an intriguing yet satisfying showing. (3/5)

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As mentioned earlier, tonight has been a long time coming for HECK. Developing their live reputation whilst honing their rugged thrash “noise-core” sound, tonight is a culmination of everything they’ve striving for. And they don’t disappoint.

Over the course of an hour, the quartet deliver a career-best show. As always, duel guitarists Johnny Hall and Matt Reynolds find solitude amongst the masses with a constant disregard for mic stands. Whether it’s lying down on the floor or standing on the bar top, their careless and frantic attitude adds to the chaotic atmosphere that firmly grabs everyone in the packed room throughout.

While Johnny and Matt provide destructive and rapid riffs, bassist Paul Shelley and drummer Tom Marsh consistently hold things down with a tight, pulsating rhythm section. As a unit, songs such as ‘A Great Idea Bastardised’ and ‘The Great Hardcore Swindle’ thrive off their chaotic adrenaline serving as a tornado of stabbing guitars, unrelenting drums and visceral screams.

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‘Totem’ offers a moment of reflection with a harmonica bellowing throughout the room, before ‘White Devil’ sends the mosh pit into a frenzied spin with Johnny leaping from the balcony. However, it’s the 16 minute album closer, ’(i) See The Old Lady Decently (ii) Buried Although (iii) Amongst Those Left Are You’, that serves to be the cherry on top of a catastrophic cake. Highlighting the bands new-found dynamic and structured sound; one minute a vicious onslaught, the next poignant pianos followed by grandiose guitar solos.

Amongst the ruthless ball of energy that nearly tears down the Rescue Rooms, there is a warming sense of gratitude from the quartet. Repeatedly thanking fans for being patient (for the album), it’s clear ‘Instructions’ took HECK are on a rollercoaster but it’s clear from tonight’s showing that they’ve survived and come out the other side stronger and better, ready to take on the world. (5/5)

3.5/5

Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86). Photos by Carrie-Anne Pollard.

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