Rock music, and heavy metal in general, is often about making a lot from a little. The Kinks famously made do with what they had when an amp blew up in 1964 – it sparked more than just a few wires and soon “You Really Got Me” patterned a generation. Tony Iommi turned losing his fingertips into some of the most famous riffs of all time as the lack of dexterity made for some of the most crushing melodies in heavy history.
There was an element of that at the 02 Academy as Birmingham played host to a few up-and-coming metal bands and one that could be breaking more than a few sound barriers.
The Spartan approach was certainly not lost on the excellent band “‘68”, who only brought two members; a guitarist/vocalist (though ‘vocalist’ is used very loosely) and a drummer. For those already rolling their eyes and muttering stuff about Royal Blood and The White Stripes under their breath, ’68 really have to be seen before those comparisons are lazily uttered. Expansive and experimental riffs and sounds fed back into the night as the lead singer interjected with hilarious quips, including introducing the band as “Metallica, from Metallica town, USA”. A breath of fresh air among the typically expansive and studio-centred groups usually thrust onto the mainstream scene; ’68 were a reminder you can make a lot of fucking noise with just a guitar and an angry voice. Oh, and a lot of cymbals.
Beartooth’s new album is set for 2016 and it looks like more than this writer is very excited about it. The evidence in Birmingham suggests it should be a cracker, too.