Ill Nino, Drowning Pool and Panic Cell - Together at last

Liverpool's Academy 2 is a great venue. Although great is a qualitative term - this place is intimate. Its a solid venue for what amounts to an amazing line-up for a Monday evening. Liverpool itself has always had a good vibe. Tonight is no exception. There's a good mix of kids, "old-skool" rockers and metal fans, all with a passion for good music, barely contained within the "smokey", brick-built cavern.

Panic Cell play an excellent set, with a sound not quite unlike Pantera. It's "growley", aggressive and definitely heavy metal. The sound is excellent and the crowd is responsive. It is, however, Drowning Pool who steal the show tonight. Their set manages to set the crowd alight with plenty of moshing, head-banging and even a couple of crowd surfers, which in this venue, is impressive. Here at Roomthirteen we like to report from where the action really is! Moving down to the front, in the middle of the pit I can feel the passion and energy even through my motorcycle leathers! When "Bodies" is played, the crowd loses it completely. I'll certainly wake up with a few bruises. The only downside I thought was the cover of "Cowboys from Hell" which felt wrong due to an odd choice of key. Nonetheless, a great opening act.

Ill Nino take to the stage and immediately throw a wall of impenetrable wall of sound at the audience. The band are clearly enjoying themselves, with the guitarist jumping all over the stage. THe sound is also excellent, with only the acoustic work sounding slightly too weak. Nonetheless, the venue sound is solid. "What you Deserve" gets a less than ecstatic response from the crowd, despite sounding almost the same as the record.

Throughout the gig, I get the feeling that the band have tons of energy - more so than the crowd. Halfway through the set, the bassist decides to wander around the crowd, gaining plenty of support. Cristian Machado's lyrics come across very strong. One of their new songs, "Alibi of Tyrants" seems to go down well with the crowd but "This is War" fails to impress. Moving into the pit again, I don't feel the same energy or intensity. The band are throwing it out in waves but I feel that Drowning Pool sapped the excitement out of this audience.

Nonetheless, I get the feeling that i'm watching worshippers at the "Altar of Metal". There is still awe in people's faces, plenty of applause and horns in the air. The impromptu riffs from Slayer's "Raining Blood" and Twisted Sister's "We're not gonna take it" certainly go down well. Generally, the set didn't have as much of a latin feel as the recordings, and sadly, I feel this is Ill Nino's main strength. Nonetheless, as a live band, Ill Nino are almost faultless, with plenty of energy and an awesome "metal" presence. But tonight, Drowning Pool almost stole the show.