Let’s be honest – sending me (a 42-year-old metalhead) to review an Attila show is a bit like handing me a shotgun and pointing me towards a barrel full of carp. Even within the much-maligned deathcore scene, Chris ‘Fronz’ Fronzak and his cohorts are widely viewed as a ridiculous proposition, not least due to the band’s routinely idiotic lyrical content and penchant for phrases like ‘Suck my fuck’ and, most memorably, ‘Tits! Tits! Tits!’ But it would be disingenuous to deny that Attila are pretty damn popular right now, as tonight’s packed venue seems to confirm, and that as easy as it is to decry the whole silly enterprise as stupid, sexist and musically lazy, it’s abundantly clear that a lot of kids have taken this band to their hearts.
Admittedly, there’s something a little bit creepy and worrying about seeing so many teenage girls wearing ‘Suck my fuck!’ t-shirts, but then metal fans have always loved foul-mouthed merchandise and, perhaps, being overly analytical about this band could be a complete waste of time. Fronz himself has apparently argued that his obnoxious persona is merely a way to reflect the keyboard warrior era, and all its unthinking abusiveness, back at an audience that are more likely to be victims of online bullying, rather than its instigators… a reclaiming, if you will, of the trollish language that has become all too prevalent on social media in recent times. At one point during tonight’s set, the frontman asks the audience if they’ve ever been bullied. Lots of people raise their hands and cheer. So is this all about empowering the picked-on and throwing the bullies’ cruelty back into their contorted, hateful faces? Or is Fronz just backtracking wildly, now that more intelligent and probing questions are being thrown his way?
In truth, it’s hard to tell and probably not worth worrying about, since Attila are neither remotely subversive nor offensive enough to really warrant a sustained campaign of criticism.
Musically, a few audacious pop and electronic trimmings aside, they sound like the archetypal deathcore band, with all the boneheaded breakdowns and sweary slogans that such an affiliation tends to entail. This very young (and possibly drunk) crowd go berserk throughout, clearly relishing the opportunity to shout rude words and raise their middle fingers every few minutes. It’s hardly a cerebral affair, of course, but then neither is an AC/DC gig. To his credit, Fronz makes for an affable and non-threatening master of ceremonies, albeit one who loudly proclaimed a desire to see his female fans’ boobs on recent album highlight Dirty Dirty (thankfully, not performed here), so while that’s a bit unsavoury he probably didn’t mean it. He seems far too nice.
If he really is a “badass motherfucker” – as semi-jokingly claimed in set closer About That Life – he’s got a funny way of showing it, so maybe there really are layers of depth and irony going on in Attila’s music… as unlikely as that sounds. What is really obvious is that this band’s main aim is to create a party atmosphere and, on this evidence, they’re succeeding. At times, their enthusiasm is close to infectious and everything is executed with enough power and professionalism to counter accusations that this music lacks any discernible merit.
What is less obvious is why anyone over the age of (or, indeed, with an IQ of more than) 18 would be remotely interested in such one-dimensional, throwaway nonsense with lyrics that, even if we’re being generous, veer regularly and perilously close to outright misogyny. If Fronz truly believes he’s providing a voice for the voiceless, combatting bullies or shaking things up by turning the tables on the internet generation, he should probably make a point of explaining himself a bit more often. For now, his adoring public are perfectly happy to shout “Suck my fuck!” without engaging their brains at all. Ah well… I sense this isn’t really aimed at me.