This Is Menace emerged from an unhealthy shroud of mystery early in 2005 with their debut album – a collection of heady names and fiery souls from the UK metal underground. Led by Jason Bowld and Mark Clayden, formerly of Pitchshifter, this gruesome beast of a band does not run on ego or ritual but merely calls for the best to give their best. Just one time. The album featured tracks with vocals from such names as Colin Doran, Matt Davies, Jeff Walker and Karl Middleton to name but a few. This was surely the collaboration to end them all. DiS caught a few minutes with guitarist, Gez Walton ahead of their hotly anticipated London show, late last year.
Tonight only Funeral For A Friend’s Matt Davies and the inimitable Casey Chaos are absent but Paul Katten from Murder One and Martin Ives from Charger have joined this raucous troupe tonight. “It’s like tag-team wrestling,” explains Walton, but is quick to dispel ideas anyone might have about the project being short-lived, “No it’s not a one-off album. We’re filming tonight for a DVD and we’ve got ideas and a lot of new material. I think we’re going to get stuff together in the New Year and see what singers are interested. The intention is to see how far we can take it. It’s definitely not a one-album vanity project for Mark and Jason. This is the second show for this band and we’ve got more planned.”
Indeed, the show is a masterclass in heavy metal. There is no respite from the sheer brutality here tonight bar the brief changeovers between the vocalists. Colin Doran bounds across and around the stage to open with a spirited performance of his song, ‘Dead Man’. There really is no breathing space or a chance for a reduction in quality as he is followed by Jeff Walker of Carcass fame, Therapy’s Andy Cairns and B’Hellmouth from the wonderfully ghoulish, zombiecore merchants, Send More Paramedics, who were also supporting tonight. You are constantly left wondering who they will bring out next and you realise that tag-team wrestling is quite startlingly accurate terminology when Mark Clayden assumes vocal duties during album closer, ‘Displacement’ and Julia Ruzicka (formerly of Million Dead) takes hold of a bass guitar and pummels it to kingdom come. It is a wondrous sight to behold and an even more special event to witness. If only every gig was as exciting as this.
As far as the album went, the core of the band was involved from start to finish, and the former Pitchshifter men were the instigators and the inspiration to the insanely dark feel to their particular brand of heaviness. “No End In Sight was mainly written between Jason and Mark. Both of them were in car crashes leading up to them writing so there was quite a dark theme. It was like a vent for their frustration.” Gez explains the process and the idea behind the band further, “The album was written between them and the demos were sent out to the singers and then they put their own lyrics and their own melodies down. There are no rules that it has to sound one way or another. We can do whatever we want. We make our own rules up.”
It’s an impressive feat to organise this particular ensemble as all the vocalists present have their own bands to perform in. This show was due to occur earlier this autumn, but the difficult scheduling did not allow that to happen. Recording was a whole different kettle of fish, however, “It was a bit of pot luck and finding a spare five minutes. Matt Davies’ song was done round his mum’s house. He’d just got off touring so as soon as he was home we were there in two hours and it was recorded in his mother’s living room. It was done in just one or two takes and his mother was just thinking, ‘Is Matt in pain, screaming in there?’”
“Colin (Doran) was in Nottingham doing a Hundred Reasons show and he just recorded his vocals on a laptop with a microphone backstage at Rock City.” As well as performing the opening track tonight, Doran played a full set in his other band made up of some of the UK’s finest musicians, The Lucky Nine. With the third Hundred Reasons album, Kill Your Own due out on March 20th, with national tours in both February and April, one might say he’s going to be a rather busy chap and a quite unlikely saviour of British rock. A tour of the country with This Is Menace would surely be a logistical nightmare. Gez Walton agrees wholeheartedly, “It would be very difficult. It obviously depends on all the singers’ commitments with their own various projects but if the opportunity was there we would. But just think about the size of the tour bus!”
This Is Menace play the Redhill Harlequin on Saturday January 14th 2006. It would be folly to miss a repeat of such an event.