Slugfest 4 : Friday - Abertillery, The Doll's House - July 29th 2011 Print E-mail
Written by Gaz E   
Friday, 05 August 2011 06:00




Not many of you will be aware of this but, in 1972, a film was released that was filmed primarily in Abertillery. My old next door neighbour starred in it and you can actually get it on blu-ray for £4.99 on at this very moment. It was called 'The Other Side Of The Underneath' and was considered a lost classic until its remastered re-release a couple of years ago. Take the following quote about it - "It has almost mythical status amongst fans of radical, experimental cinema, partly because of its visionary and disturbing depictions of the mental state of its schizophrenic protagonist" - substitute the word 'cinema' with 'music', make the last word plural and, good lord, you have an almost perfect description of an event that, some four decades later in the same town, has already garnered itself some of that 'mythical status' malarkey. I speak, of course, of Slugfest.


Now in its fourth year and bigger, badder and more beautiful than ever, Slugfest is a free, three day punk and metal festival that is as much about letting the good times roll as it is about rock 'n' roll. With all proceeds being donated to local charities this event rubs the nosemutator1s of the proles into the fact that even the freaks, the geeks, the punks and the metalheads have a far superior sense of community, of liberalism, of charity than these mouth breathers could ever hope to aspire to. If they knew what aspire meant, naturally.


Split over three days and two venues on Alma Street in Abertillery Rock City, Slugfest 4 crashed into 2011 on a sweaty Friday July night in The Doll's House. With a fashionable and fantastic array of mercurial merch on offer, and the weigh-in for the Rumble In The Car Park live sporting event featuring Trigger McPoopshute (the man, the myth) and Marvellous Starvin' Plugster that would take place the following day, this year's slugfestivities kicked off in fine style (following the traditional one song festival opening set from local legends Gallini) with a great set from The Dolts.


I'd seen this gang of young Welsh punks at the start of the year and, while they impressed with their enthusiasm, they were rawer than Annabel Chong's particulars. But tonight, fucking hell, they were as tight as fuck having made a most noticeable step up in quality - seriously, if these kids were decent before, now they're very good. Mixing an old school punk aesthetic with a more modern Anti-Flag kinda sound, these young fuckers get things going in some style, closing their set with a song that, although I have no fucking clue what it was called, contained an infectious "whoa-oh" refrain and pretty much summed up the band's performance - very cool.


100% Doomcore; so sayeth the lore of Doomchild, the Chepstow-based outfit who are heavier than John Candy's coffin and moodier than a housewife who has missed Loose Women. I shouldn't jest for this is some seriously atmospheric stuff. Darrel Sutton says that they remind him of Celtic Frost and he should know as he was always down with tencenttoyTom G Warrior, especially when the latter started wearing lipstick around the time of 'Cold Lake'. Doomchild, though, plough deep, dark furrows with their sombre brand of metal. Fronted by vocalist Scriv (on day release from his duties as frontman of Lifer) who has been blessed with a larynx from Lucifer and is a perfect fit for this band, Doomchild let their rumbling bass and suffocating guitar ooze out of the speakers, swamping the venue with powerful tunes like 'Solitude' and 'Retribution'. Closing with the mysteriously titled (to some) 'S.O.D.', this five-headed sludge beast, although just second on of the entire festival, will prove to be one of the bands of the weekend.


With Deadhorse having to sadly pull out of the festival at the 11th hour, their spot on the night's bill is taken by Newport-based metal crew [Ten Cent Toy] who amp up the entertainment factor with a high energy set. The four piece spit out a frenetic thrash-fuelled noise that could appeal to both the Lamb Of God and Bring Me The Horizon fans, a decent move with the overlapping of genres key to severe success these days. The bass player licking his fingers is a bit Sunset Strip poseur 1988 but let that nonsense not take away from the fact that the band hit home with an excellent set that is pretty much adored and leaves the venue's patrons just that little bit sweatier come its conclusion. Good stuff.


Deadhorse might not be here tonight but their bassist Sam Jones is, working his day job as part of the mighty Mutator. This three-piece throwback to old school thrash metal never fails to impress and tonight, surprise surprise, they don't fail again. Vocalist/guitarist Stoo Harris has a different haircut every time I see him but, thankfully, the same voice and six string prowess. There are broad strokes of Slayer all over the band's material, but their storming cover of 'Bonded By Blood' by Exodus (complete with passionate backing vocals from Lifer's Web and Trigger McPoopshute/Gallini's Sutton) tells you exactly who this band want t2sickmonkeys1o sound like - they pull it off too. 'Zombicidal Maniac' and 'Fields Of Endless Pain' close out the set and there's not one person in the building not feeling at least a little whiplash from a half hour of headbanging along to another high octane show from Mutator. Awesome.


2 Sick Monkeys are, guess what, a two piece punk rock combo from Wootton Bassett who return to The Doll's House with a big reputation following a stonker of a gig in the not too distant past. Opening their set with an English-baiting love letter to the Valleys gets everyone on their side before they have even played a note and, when they do eventually play one, any doubters in the room are left with no doubt that they are about to be entertained....severely. 'Number 1 Retard', a ten second song dedicated to Norwegian beserker Anders Behring Breivik ("Christian and racist? That's a double cunt!"), rubs shoulders with the likes of 'Happy Days', 'One More Second', 'Spontaneous Amoebic Dysentery' and a Napalm Death-styled crazy cover of Green Day's 'American Idiot' that has everyone bouncing. The duo, drummer and bass player - no guitar - who share vocals, close the stunning set with the subtle 'Fuck Off' and a message to all Slugfest attendees; "We want your money not your spunk....though if that's all you've got we'll come to some kind of agreement." Top class punk rock chuckles abound.


Gloucester's Hellbound have a tough act to follow. That they do it with ease - and more than a few monstrous riffs - tells its own story; these guys are on fire at the minute. Their album, the Uber-approved 'Din't Hear No Bell', is out and laying waste to all manner of hi-fidelity equipment, leaving audiophiles lying weeping in pools of their own bile and piss. Possibly. The album is a beast though and the majority of it gets an airing for Slugfest's aural entrepreneurs. Dimebag Darrell tattoos, flying Vs, Jagermeister - this might check more than enough boxes in Metal 101 but you just can't help but bang your head, pump your fist and throw some horns in the direction of this fierce four piece.


......and that's it. The first night of the fucked up and free threeway is done, its memory living on in the ringing ears, bruised bodies and shit-eating grins of all who witnessed it. It would be easy to label the opening night of Slugfest the finger-fuck to the following day's full-blown sleazy shenanigans but tonight, honestly, was a full-on rock show that many places, punters and promoters would have been delighted with....but not Abertillery, not Slugfest attendees. The festival put out tonight but tomorrow...well...tomorrow it brings out the gimp......




[Photos by Ian Cates]