REVIEW: Breed 77 The Fleece, Bristol 7/10 by Robin Askew
Gibraltar's foremost, and, quite probably, only, purveyors of flamenco-metal have been tied up in some kind of management and legal hell ever since the release of their 2009 album, Insects. The easy option to kick-start their career would have been to milk the exoticism angle, tone down the metal, and go for the easy listening world music/Rodrigo y Gabriela audience. But their choice of support acts suggests this could not be further from their minds.
Hailing from the most metal-loving nation on earth, Finland's oddly named For the Imperium boast as many different haircuts as they do musical styles (hardcore, sample-driven rock, guitar heroics). Alas, these coalesce only occasionally into something interesting and the audience is left largely unmoved. Brummies Left Unscarred fare a little better, though their brand of shouty metalcore is rather generic.
Breed 77's grand entrance signals a vast quality gulf between the headliners and the rest of the bill. Dapper, clean-cut frontman Paul Isola has lost none of his ability to command his loyal audience, leading them through a mostly well-judged set of bilingual old favourites and new material from the recently released The Evil Inside, which he describes as a "depressing, slit-your-wrists album". Although some of their subtlety is lost in the live mix, ace guitarists Danny Felice and Pedro Capparos Lopez both switch fluidly between acoustic and electric guitars, with the splendid, Middle Eastern-flavoured The Battle of Hatin. A bizarre, plodding cover of Alice Cooper's Poison seems rather pointless given the quality of Breed 77's own material. This stands in stark contrast to their imaginative reworking of The Cranberries' Zombie. Also, on the plus side, watching a metal audience attempting a flamenco handclap during La Ultima Hora remains the most fun it's possible to have on a freezing night in Bristol.
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