If there's any justice in the metal world, Stuka Squadron's first sortie onto Scottish soil should be one of those "I was there" nights. Whether it was the unseasonably warm Scottish weather, the unfortunate Glasgow apathy to new bands, the mid-week slot, or, most likely a combination of all three, the crowd for the first show on Stuka's short British tour was so small, I managed to count everyone in attendance on both hands and with a sock still firmly wrapped round one of my rather sweaty feet. At least I needed to use all of the digits on my naked foot to reach the fifteen mark... Either way Stuka Squadron stuck to their task, giving a lesson in how to fire out high octane traditional metal and create a triumph from what could have been a disaster!
Disappointed though they may have been, and with the conspicuous absence of a support act, the five members of Stuka Squadron decided it was a night to dedicate themselves to the metal cause and purge themselves of every bead of sweat they contained. Now, with the pretext of the band actually being (well according to them anyway), vampires who fought in a Stuka Squadron in WWII, we were treated to a whole host of schlock horror in the guise of vampire teeth, brandished swords, silver topped canes, whips and fake blood. There's no denying that an evening of Stuka is a little silly, but with just enough of their tongues avoiding their sharp incisors to land firmly in their cheeks, it is all damn good fun. For the uninitiated, The Squadron have released one widely acclaimed album, the gloriously Maiden like Tales Of The Ost, full of twin guitar mayhem, power screaming vocals and robust, true metal anthems. Live however the already excellent songs somehow up the ante, smacking you round the chops with a toothy, pointy grin and an evil glint in their eyes.
Whether through the band's anthem "Stuka Squadron", the album title track "Tales Of The Ost", or the all crushing "Tiger I", as soon as the Stuka's get off the ground, the guitar pairing of Gravedigger Cox and Doktor Suicide (who is deputising for Sir Graveghoul Terrorsound on this tour) power their way through mightily infectious riffs and blood curdling solos. What really makes this ghoulish outfit tick however is the panzer pummelling drumming of Baron von Hammerstein and blitzkrieg bombing bass of Lord Graham Pyre. The pair not only nail every beat to the floor, but Pyre really is a strange delight to watch, with his over elaborate stage moves landing somewhere between Gene Simmons and Fog Horn Leghorn! As the temperature began to soar, so the Squadron removed their full length black leather coats and over elaborate peaked hats, but that didn't stop singer James Duke Fang Begley (yes I know he sounds like an extra from Wacky Races...) from prowling the stage, drawing blood from the neck of bassist Pyre and crucially, hitting every glass shattering scream and gut wrenching growl with a theatrical ease - he really is already a rather accomplished frontman.
One new song was given a debut flight, in the shape of the excellent "Desert Fox", suggesting that album number two will pick from where its excellent predecessor leaves off. However the best illustration of what Stuka Squadron are all about arrives in the shape of the shout along "We Drink Blood" and the mighty set closer "Zabulon's Inferno". Making as much noise as fifteen people can, an encore was demanded and with the spirit of rising above adversity that the Stuka's showed all night firmly to the fore, a storming rendition of "Lovecraft" sent everyone - the band included - to the bar with huge, pointy, blood stained smiles.
In a way it was almost a privilege to witness, what was in effect an exclusive little showcase gig from an excellent new band. However with the passion of their performance and power of their songs, Stuka Squadron deserved so much better than Glasgow gave them. Come on Scotland, where were you??