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Here we go again. Club Med on a Friday night, a venue directly above an innocent karaoke bar, is crammed with fans of heavy music pining to get rowdy. Belgium hardcore act Ashes has come all the way for the occasion. Just like the bands, the venue’s reputation precedes it. It’ the kind of night you need to do stretches for.
Proceedings begin with Overhex, a band whose exhibitionist frontman bounces off the walls for the entire set. Even for a small venue it’s quite empty still but those present make sure to show their appreciation with the usual flailing body language we’ve come to expect from a Club Med gig. The entire scene is offset by the bass drum skin with the Plastics’ logo emblazoned on the front.
Peasant follows with a honed performance that taps faithfully into the veins of Black Sabbath with massive chords and slow staccato rhythms, albeit with a more modern approach. Hearing Alain Martheze’s powerful screaming it’s very hard indeed to imagine that those same vocal chords are currently singing Veladraco’s ‘Town’ on 5FM. Peasant managed to cover all their bases in terms of speed and style so there’s a lot to love for fans across the metal genre. With the crowd getting larger each person is trying to occupy as much room as possible, with tenderizing consequences.
The spell of mayhem is broken momentarily between sets as people walk peacefully to the bar to fill up on quarts of Black Label and feast upon giant packets of Lay’s chips, no doubt carbo-loading for the inevitable moshing that’s to come.
They are followed by slam death metal giants and hairiest band of the night Vuvodynia. The heaviness is ramped up significantly by overbearing distortion and an ensemble of mangled throat noises. Each song starts at breakneck speed before inevitably delivering massive breakdowns. Guitarist Luke Haarhoff sports a beautiful silken crop of blonde hair reminiscent of a metal-loving Legolas. The crowd reaches the point of reckless flailing with many friendly collisions that prove the “slam” label truly accurate in Vulvodynia’s case.
The night is ended of with the Belgian hardcore antics of Ashes. They seem young and energetic, but most of all they appear determined to make the most of their second trip around South Africa. Each song is a confrontational jolt that throws the members squarely into the melee of thrashing metalheads before them. It’s one blistering track after another. To call hardcore a tradition may seem strange but Ashes’ performance pays tribute to the genre and all that its fans hold dear. By now most of the previous band members have joined in the fray in front of stage, a mark of support typical to the local metal scene.
With the final encores played out, the crowd’s appetite for destruction is momentarily slaked. The venue is strewn with bottles and Lay’s chip packets. Its patrons are comparing bruises from the mosh pit like fond memerobilia. Once again the local heavy music scene proves itself to be tight knit and very much alive. Club Med has become home to that carnage and considering the mayhem that these metalheads create we should enjoy it while the building is still standing.
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