One thing Arnocorps, the Arnold Schwarzenegger-inspired 'Greatest Band in the World', doesn't lack is discipline
As hundreds of punters dressed in various degrees of army regalia and camouflage face paint arrive at the Speakeasy bar, one could be forgiven for thinking that Queen’s Student Union is about to play host to a minor military engagement. However, these ardent fans are here to see Arnocorps (the self-professed ‘Greatest Band Of All Time’) take to a Belfast stage for the third time. Known for their intense fusion of metal and hardcore, as well as infamously raucous live shows, the most intriguing aspect of Arnocorps is their sole lyrical influence – the work of bodybuilder turned actor turned Governor of California, Mr. Arnold Schwarzennegger.
First up, however, is the ferociously named F**khammer – a Belfast band formed from members of Lesshelp and War Iron. With elements of chest-rattling sludge and groove-heavy stoner metal, the band is impossible to pigeonhole but sure to melt the faces of those dedicated enough to get to the front early, not least of all due to singer Baggy’s diet-of-crushed-glass style vocals.
Notorious hard rockin’ funsters Mental Deficiency are an apt choice for second support act, with influences ranging from Rocky and Robocop to Buckfast and breasts. It’s hard not to get caught up in MD’s infectious brand of silliness, with accomplished riffing accompanying the top hats, fright masks and leotards. Just because they’re a comedy band doesn’t mean they can’t rock.
As Arnocorps take to the stage (accompanied by Little Richard’s 'Long Tall Sally' a la Predator), it is immediately apparent that the Arnie influence reaches far beyond their lyrical themes. Boot polish and combat fatigues abound. Singer Holzfeuer bears more than a passing resemblance to a young Schwarzennegger and not one member of the Californian group drop their faux-Austrian accents for even an instant.
The punk metallers rattle through their canon with the unstoppable force of an M60 machine gun, with aptly titled songs including ‘Commando’, ‘The Running Man’ and ‘Total Recall’. However, the stand-out tracks are the hilarious ‘You Lack Discipline’ (focusing on Arnie’s family classic Kindergarten Cop), and homage to the Schwarzennegger way of life ‘I’m Ballsy’. While thunderously rollicking metal-tinged hardcore is the order of the day, the group are even joined onstage by a guest violinist at one point.
While musically accomplished, Arnocorps’ greatest appeal is their onstage antics. Between tracks Holzfeuer and the rest of the band members (with stage names such as Inzo Der Barrakuda and Vielme Klampfe) muse on their ‘native’ Austria, and the merits of eating a hearty breakfast of Green Berets. The crowd response has to be seen to be believed, with the front dozen rows a sea of fist-pumping and crowd-surfing.
There are few tracks which don’t end up with either one member of the band launching themselves into the rapturous audience (while still performing, of course) or a full scale stage invasion, all encouraged by the band in the name of ‘crowd participation’. Holzfeuer can be seen throwing body after gleeful body into the audience and at one point the band are joined by 20+ audience members for a body building competition. Of course, it’s all good spirited – as Arnocorps themselves might say, they’re a rescue team, not assassins.
The band round off the night with fan favourite 'Last Action Hero', before sticking around until closing time to tirelessly pose for photographs and autograph albums. Tonight is a rare mixture of hard rock and hilarity. Luckily, judging by the reception it’s fair to say that Arnocorps will ‘be back’.