London Kentish Town Forum

Old Beetle Brow is still teaching the nippers a thing or two about how to rock...

In the absence of any evidence to the contrary you have to conclude this: just one date in high school and we probably wouldn’t be here. If things had been different there’d have been no extravagant body resculpting and no call for the intensity that means no matter how many sidelines Rollins has got going (novelist, actor, spoken-word performer) it’s never enough to satisfy.

For this we should be thankful, because Rollins remains a fascinating anomaly. Ever since moving from Black Flag into a world more traditionally inhabited by spandex goons he’s never fitted in. Now, as Limp Bizkit and Slipknot revitalise metal, he seems just as out of place. Stripping himself bare both physically and metaphorically, you’d never find Ol’ Hank donning a boiler suit to detract from his unrelenting seriousness and ongoing dissection of machismo.

Not that he doesn’t rock as much as the new breed. As last album – ‘Get Some Go Again’ – proved, the self-deprecation of his spoken-word projects hasn’t mellowed him. And here, wearing nothing but battered shorts, tats and a furrowed brow, hunched in a permanent squat like he’s searching for a particularly elusive contact lens, he’s taking an evolutionary step backwards.

The occasional old song thrown to the moshpit might feature the fearsome sonics of hardcore, but mainly he’s reclaiming the primeval riffs of Black Sabbath. Ably assisted by ridiculously coiffured backing band Mother Superior, who look – in stark contrast to their leader – as if their rider stretches beyond bottled water and vitamins into more traditional rock pursuits, songs like ‘Monster’, ‘Hotter And Hotter’ and ‘Illumination’ are assault courses of the heaviest riffs, the dumbest of dumb-ass rock moves, and the snarl of unmuzzled Rottweiler lyrics.

Old Beetle Brow is still teaching the nippers a thing or two about how to rock. His buzz cut might be slipping into middle-age grey, but Henry Rollins‘ intensity hasn’t faded one bit.