By Ryan Dyer
July 17, Lotus Club, Tianjin China
Nirvana and Rebirth – no, it’s not the resurrection of Kurt Cobain this time (maybe next year). The Mort Productions festival brought six bands to the Lotus Club in Tianjin for a hot and sweaty night of metal in the dead heat of mid-July. As Tianjin is a hulking, huge city that goes on seemingly forever, the Lotus Club itself is a delicate flower which requires some trekking to get to – a taxi ride of up to 45 minutes is the required means of arriving at the place. For this concert, however, the trip was worth it. Metal maniacs had come from afar to see these six metal giants standing on the lotus pedal of a stage, and the bands were ready to make the attendees in that tiny room sweat off a few pounds by the end of the night.
First up were Eternal Power, who brought an old school mentality with their screaming guitar licks and Axl-esque vocal approach. The wild, fuzzy hair of the band members blew wildly from the fans turned up to 11 on stage, but as they and the concert goers would find out soon enough, no fan was powerful enough for the combination of scorching heat and brimstone metal, as the sweat soon started glistening on the foreheads of every person jam packed into the Lotus Club.
Let me get this straight. So, what you’re saying is that you think Joker is sick bass player? He is, and I’m tired of pretending he’s not! Up next was the powerhouse from Beijing, Titan. Since the last time I saw them, they have had a few member change-ups, with the clown prince of crime now doing bass duties and the singer switched up to a strapping young lad with a beautiful mane of hair. With these switches, the music has gained more of a sense of urgency, while at the same time feeling heavier than ever before. They tore through their set and by the end of it, sweat was surely pouring off of the attendees’ balls like they were leaky faucets.
It was time for the mid-way point band of the night, Crimson Flag. It’s somewhat rare to see death metal bands with female vocalists, so this was a treat. Like Ready to Die from Beijing, but with a pinch more Arch Enemy influence, Crimson Flag are a band to look out for if you’re sick of the same tired, male vocal approach and need a bit more variety in your death metal.
A monster has been terrorizing the coastal city of Qingdao and drinking all of their beer for the past while – a dragon made up of Irish, American and British appendages – who have come together to form the Mega Dragon. Wearing dripping corpse paint and performing metal which is part black metal, part death metal, part storytelling metal, ala GWAR, the band put on a tight, festival ready set at this show, which was around the midpoint of their cross-country tour. The topics presented in their songs are intriguing, “Werewolf”, “The Cult Cthulhu”, and especially “Pulgasari”, being about the 1985 North Korean kaiju film in which South Korean director Shin Sang-ok was kidnapped and forced to make it and several other films before fleeing to the US. Shin Sang-NOT ok, indeed.
The 1000-degree heat of the Lotus room was certainly taking its toll, but those, like myself, who forgot to go to the gym earlier in the day would agree that running around in circle pits in this sweaty little room burned just as many calories as a one-hour workout. Speaking of workouts, the perfect band for that was up next, Tianjin’s nu/industrial metal personal trainers, High Song. I have said that the band reminds me of a Rammstein/Slipknot hybrid, and during this performance, the dance metal characteristics of early Rammstein seemed at the forefront, causing the crowd to stop the violence and start getting down and dirty on the dance floor.
Okay fuckers, time to stop dancing and get your combat boots on for one more slimy, sweat slathered conflict in the pit. Hometown boys Iron Throne were the final band of the night, and as of late they have been on a roll – consistently growing more intense and explosive with each performance. While the audience was tired, they got that last bit of energy due to the churning pig squeals, primordial roars and arse-ripping riffage of the Throne. Poised to make their mark on the greater China music scene soon enough, they won’t be Tianjin’s best kept secret for much longer.