Over the past year, fiery hardcore punk quartet Million Dead have made a massive impact on British rock music, but it's a reasonable bet to say they are more an unknown quantity on Canadian shores.
Speed of achievement can sometimes be overplayed when new bands emerge. Every year, some fresh-faced upstarts will somehow shoot from minor label no ones to major label, front page, gods within the space of a fortnight, and people everywhere will start gushing about how much they love them and how they saw them first.
The significant dent MD has made is very different. Compare them to, say, relative contemporaries and good buddies, Funeral for a Friend, and the distinction is clear, despite their debut UK albums being released within a very close period. But figures, labels and (semi) transatlantic fame aren't all it's about.
So, on a windy night in the seaside town of Bournemouth, playing to a half full crowd at the tiny, and insatiably hot, venue, The Villa, I can assure you, MD have achieved just as much proportionately, over the past twelve months, as their friends FFAF - even if the latter's currently more glamorous surroundings touring North America on Projekt Revolution suggest otherwise.
The impatience is tangible as a cluster of fans gathers before the barrier waiting for MD to finally emerge, the excessive three prior support bands contributing to an agonizing wait, with only third-billed Aconite Thrill worth any real attention.
But as soon as drummer Ben Dawson begins to rattle out the familiar beat of
'Breaking the Back', this small pocket of adoration begins to bounce manically, doing their best to make the heat and noise of thousands. Bean pole singer Frank Turner leans forward, dropping his mop of hair into the pit screaming his unique brand of spoken/sung lyrical genius into the pit, teeth, nose and eyes the only distinguishable features on his unshaven face.
Utterly dedicated and completely immersed, his front row audience proceeds to scream right back, no matter how tongue-twisting and complex the words, while a disappointingly more sizeable crowd stands further back in a semi-circle, admiring both the band's and moshers' efforts.
Thrashing out the screechingly brilliant 'Pornography for Cowards', 'I am the
Party' 'Charlie and the Propaganda Myth Machine', 'Macgyver', and 'Smiling at
Strangers on Trains' from the album, 'A Song to Ruin', for every song there's at least five at the front who get every word right. And with lyrics like these, that's a pretty tall order.
"Credit cards, sealed lifts and covert sanitation, processed meat and a national waste disposal system," the fans and Turner sing in unison, in four seconds flat, during recent single, 'I Gave my Eyes to Stevie Wonder'; and even live/bootleg download-only songs 'Matthew' and 'Sasquatch' have been picked-up by a handful of followers.
They close, sweaty and slightly deranged, with a typically improvised and anarchic outro to final album track 'The Rise and Fall', looking almost dazed as all but Dawson lie on the floor, new guitarist Tom Fowler scratching away at his strings aimlessly, and bassist Julia Ruzicka's petite frame almost disappearing behind a monitor. In fact, the only people that look more dazed are those in the said pit before them. And that, THAT is making an impact.
Writer: Tim Newbound