After seeing Batalj perform a very good show together wih Zeus and Retox at West Germany last summer, I was pretty excited to see them again at the same location. Surprisingly, West Germany was not packed at all tonight, which did not bother me all that much. It allowed me to stand close to the stage without having to battle my way into the middle of a sweaty crowd.
Batalj was up first. They have a new keyboarder who shared the vocal duties with their guitarist. Her vocals match those of the singer-guitarist well - a nice addition to the band. For lack of a better comparison, I can like their sound to that of The Locust, but with a lot of reverb on the vocals, which adds a Black Metal eerie darkness. It actually reminded my of some very good Black Metal demos, which have that kind of chanting over the top vocals, and this produced a big smile on my face (check out the "Wrath of the Tyrants" by Emperor and you know what I mean). I do not know the band personally, but the former keyboarder was apparently dancing in the first row motivating her fellows by passing around a monster Jaeger bottle. I think they are doing a pretty good job managing not to end into total sound chaos by keeping some balance of the individual instruments. Plus the drumming still gives everything a basic structure and makes it really enjoyable for the experienced and willing listener. Usually I like such acts short, but this time I was really sad they played a short set. Batatj had me drawn in and I wanted more.
Brutal Blues rather follow the traditional metal grindcore path and turned out to be a very worthy follow-up for Batalj. Fast attackers, their concept of just guitar and drums and dual vocals worked out well - a bass guitar was not necessary here - just guitar was fine. At times, it was a bit muddy mixed under the very prominent drums. But the guy is definitely a fast drummer knowing how to blast beats with highest precision, which produced the next big smile on my face with very good memories of some old English grind heroes. You could tell these two guys are not new to thrashing out grindcore; I was impressed at how relaxed but ultra fast they played. It was all over soon because of some physical exhaustion on the drummer's part I presume. After one of the first songs a somewhat displeased listener yelled something and was immediately answered by the drummer saying "It's grindcore, we play short songs".
If you are into short, fast, and loud grind core, there was not much to complain about. The answer to whether you liked the show or not is a question written all over the walls at Monarch: "Are you Metal?" Yes, I am!