Live Review: The Wildhearts – Earth Vs 20th Anniversary Tour, Manchester Academy 05/04/2013


Setlist:
Greetings From Shitsville
TV Tan
Everlone
Shame On Me
Loveshit
The Miles Away Girl
My Baby Is A Headfuck
Suckerpunch
News Of The World
Drinking About Life
Love U Til I Don’t

Caffeine Bomb Vs Sick Of Drugs
Got It On Tuesday Vs Schizophonic
You Beautiful Thing
Vs Red Light Green Light
Naivety Play Vs Dangerlust
Mood Swings & Roundabouts
Vs Now Is The Colour
Deep In The Arms Of Morpheus Vs Turning American
The Duck Song
Vs Hate The World Day
Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes Vs Geordie In Wonderland
29 X The Pain
Vs I Wanna Go Where The People Go

Last April my brother asked me to be his best man, an honour, for sure, but I’m not the most organised person. So when the Wildhearts announced a tour to celebrate Earth Vs The Wildhearts 20th Anniversary it certainly took a lot of pressure off my shoulders.

They’re not just a band who my brother and I share a love of, but also my girlfriend, her brother, several of our closest friends. All of whom made the trip over the Pennines for this gig. In the past I’ve been on road trips to Dudley, Nottingham and Scarborough to see them, as well as closer to home, so a jaunt to Manchester felt like the perfect choice for this stag do.

The gig had been upgraded from The Academy 2 to the main Academy, a fact that underlines the appeal that The Wildhearts, and more specifically the Earth Vs album continues to have. Thankfully tonight the line-up, which consists of Ginger & CJ from that era, together with Rich Battersby and Jon Poole, do the album justice. As does the sound in the Academy, Rich’s bass drum is particularly punchy during opener Greetings From Shitsville. The crowd is also in fine voice as well, singing the ‘So, So, KO’ line in TV Tan with gusto. The fact it’s a Friday night and most people are willing to lose their inhibitions no doubt aids this. During Everlone I even found myself pogoing for the first time in years, something my knees weren’t thankful for the next day.

Shame On Me  is one of the less familiar album tracks, so there’s a slight lull, but the trio of songs that follows The Miles Away Girl, My Baby Is A Headfuck and Suckerpunch is pretty much unbeatable, especially the one-two combination of the last two. Suckerpunch sounds as frenetic as ever, echoing Ministry’s Jesus Built My Hotrod in terms of its impact the first time I heard it, it was the song that converted me to the Wildhearts in the first place. Following this News Of The World is never going to compete, which is the inevitable issue that arises at shows such as this, whereas a straight ‘hits’ based set wouldn’t leave room for comparative filler. Still the meaty, almost thrash, riff near the end compels my neck muscles into action.

The outset of Love You Till I Don’t’s brings a touch of sunshine to the Manchester night, whilst later in the song Rich Battersby’s drum tattoo brings to mind the opening of another classic song from 1993, namely Anthrax’s Potters Field. Catchy choruses to kill for, thrash riffs, near industrial hit singles and a pop sensibility that has always served the band well, it’s fair to say that the band and Earth Vs in particular covered a lot of bases which explains the diversity in tonight’s crowd (More of which later). So far, so good.

The second half of the set offered that crowd a chance to select what the band played, an intriguing premise that despite being highly enjoyable initially was slightly flawed. There was a slight air of inevitability that when presented with a choice of Caffeine Bomb or Sick Of Drugs. The majority of the crowd opted for the former, which appeared on Earth Vs when it was re-issued in 1994. For me it would have been preferable if it had been featured in the main set and something else went up against Sick Of Drugs, perhaps If life Is Like A Lovebank I Want An Overdraft.

The next two choices presented an interesting dilemma, pip for the song you’ve heard of or go for a surprise in my case. Schizophonic won out, a track that originally appeared on the band’s legendary, initially mail-order only, EP Fishing For Luckies. The alternative was Got It On Tuesday, a B-Side from the Red Light – Green Light EP, which on the night I couldn’t remember. Both choices show how prolific The Wildhearts were from their early nineties inception right through to their initial split after 1997’s Endless Nameless. Nearly every single they put out came with 3 new songs, some of which happened to be amongst their best material.

I was at the bar during the next choice and a gent in what can only be described as glam-rock attire, including a fur coat, planted a kiss on my cheeks by way of an apology for spilling some beer over me. A gesture which underlines the love in the room for the band, having an uplifting affect on those in attendance. Had he spilt that beer in one of Manchester’s many bars later in the night over a less open-minded individual he may well have got into a physical altercation!

The next choice, You Beautiful Thing was a B-Side on the Suckerpunch single and was a fairly unanimous selection over the somewhat novelty Red Light – Green Light (The video for which is well worth looking up on Youtube just to contemplate how the band got away with putting it out). Granted there’s no guest saxophonist but just hearing such a gloriously hook laden song and realising that this wasn’t even the best B-Side on said single makes you realise how much the quality of that format has nosedived since the advent of downloading.

The crowd certainly seems to be largely populated by singles and rarities aficionados, who go on to select Dangerlust from the TV EP over PHUQ album cut Naivety Play and Mood Swings And Roundabouts, which came from the band approved re-release of Fishing For Luckies and wasn’t on EastWest’s cash in version (Are you keeping up, following The Wildhearts was certainly an exhausting pastime!) over Now Is The Colour (An Endless Nameless album cut).

The subsequent choice of Turning American from Don’t Be Happy…Just Worry over Deep In The Arms Of Morpheus was described as a forgone conclusion. Perhaps not surprising considering a recorded version of the latter has only surfaced on Ginger’s fan funded 555% in 2012. It’s similarly unsurprising that the audience implore Rich Battersby to come out from behind his drum kit in order to sing The Duck Song (The football chant style ending to 29x The Pain) rather than Hate The World Day; a Life Is Like A Lovebank… B-Side which itself ends with a rather memorable football terrace friendly chant (Something the band excelled at, Don’t Worry About Me still gets sung by the audience at the end of any of their gigs).

Geordie In Wonderland, which successfully mixes an almost Mediterranean feel with its lilting folk and lyrical subject, is a crowd pleaser that would have trumped most songs, so the chances of hearing Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes were always slim, and so it came to pass.

The final choice of the night, described as a heavyweight clash by our announcer sees perhaps the greatest Wildhearts song (And one of my all time favourite songs), Suckerpunch B-Side 29x The Pain pitted against one of the band’s most popular singles I Wanna Go Where The People Go. It’s a close run thing. Thankfully, for me, the former got the nod and I was in heaven for the next few minutes.

Giving the audience the final say in the second half of the set led to some enjoyable moments, but it robbed that portion of proceedings of some momentum. That the audience frequently chose B-Sides suggest the band should have just stuck to the Earth Vs singles and played all the B-Sides from the TV EP, Suckerpunch and Caffeine Bomb. Five of them made it in anyway. There was also a noticeably less banter from Ginger tonight, but what little there was mostly revolved around the fact the band genuinely didn’t know what choices the band would be presented with. In that sense tonight was, for better of for worse, truly about people power.

If you want to have a hand in deciding what the band play next time round they have added another batch of dates in June:

21st June – Bournemouth Academy
22nd June – London Forum
23rd June – Bristol Academy
28th June – Leicester Academy
29th June – Newcastle Academy
30th June – Leeds Academy

Post by Andrew Whittaker

Live Review: Hammerfest V: In Fear Of The Dragon – 14th-16th March 2013 @ Hafan Y Môr Holiday Park


Pwllheli is a quiet place tucked away in the extreme rural area of North-West Wales. If you travel via Snowdon, you’re likely to cast your eye on small frozen waterfalls, big slate cliff-faces, fields of green and plenty of stone ruins.

However, from the 14th-17th of March, Penychain was invaded by a metal mass from all over the UK (and abroad) who were ready for beers and headbanging. Eyesore Merch was a part of it all and so here’s the rundown on the bands who stood up to the challenge of Hammerfest V and how they did.

THURSDAY

The first slot for any festival is always going to be a hard one – the crowd will never reach its full potential as half of the occupants might not have even reached Penychain yet. However, undeterred, Goddamn Electric started the afternoon with their bluesy and slightly sleazy brand of Pantera-esque metal, vocalist Tommy seeming to mould both Phil Anselmo’s roars and M Shadow’s cleans. While the crowd was pretty thin, they managed to stir interest with offers of Jagermeister and throwing free albums from the stage. For an opener, they did good!

However, Dyscarnate were up next and within seconds of the trio kicking into their set a question screams to mind: Why in the hell are they playing a) Thursday, and b) so early? DyscarnateDyscarnate are a visceral machine that rips throats and chews on bones, and for a band like that to start when the crowd is so small is a real wonder. For those unfamiliar to them, just think of some of the most technical and brutal death metal, and then exaggerate it with scary pinpoint precision. The guys also had the loudest bass/drums sound – trying to breathe at the barrier was almost impossible, feeling like you were repeatedly punched in the throat. Safe to say, Dyscarnate killed it.

Savage Messiah step up next and throw out their thrash-tinged heavy metal, although never really bringing anything new or mindblowing to the table, but the crowd seemed to enjoy. Vicious Nature followed with their grandiose take on old-school heavy metal and the entertaining vocalist could probably give Bruce Dickinson a run for his money when it comes to energy – the combination just making it a fun set. Sacred Mother Tongue on the other hand feels incredibly lacklustre in comparison, and their fairly predictable metal didn’t really help grab much interest either.

FRIDAY

Sansara are the first band to open the Jagermeister stage at Hammerfest and are cursed with a small crowd, who are either too hungover or just uninterested to really show any enthusiasm. While they pump out a slightly chirpier version of Alice In Chain’s style of hard rock, there’s nothing that really grabs your attention.

Deadman Sugar do slightly better, delivering heavy metal with a doomy Black Sabbath edge, and manage to attract a livelier crowd throughout their set, thanks to the cheery and entertaining vocalist who spurred the crowd a little. Fire In The Empire unfortunately didn’t take advantage of the effort and pretty much played a straightforward heavy metal with a flat delivery.

Heading over to the mainstage, named Dragon stage, The Idol Dead play their sleazy rock’n’roll with a slight punkish delivery – a definite for fans of Velvet Revolver. It becomes clear as they churn through song after song that the guys would have probably done a lot better with a larger crowd, the one at this stage actually falling shy of the Jagermeister stage’s numbers.

Talking of the Jagermeister stage, South Wales’s Triaxis take to the stage and is the first sign on the stage of a band that knows how to stir some interest. Frontwoman Krissie manages to engage with the crowd between songs and even gets some sympathy when she announces that she’s ill, which doesn’t really show that much during songs. Bassist Owen also jumps around the stage like a banshee unleashed, and so while musically the band are pretty straightforward heavy metal, Triaxis upped the performance level a bit.

Ancient Ascendant unleash their torturous sound next, mostly death/thrash metal with slight black metal influences (mainly on the vocals), they’re the first band to push beyond the classic hard rock/heavy metal sounds of prior bands, waking the crowd up. They simply put on a thunderous set.


Iron Knights
feel like a metal band that isn’t afraid to get a little battle metal with their sound, and frequently refer to the audience as ‘legions’ and set forth a kind of bravado throughout their set, making it entertaining at least. Back to the Dragon stage, Attica Rage blasts their old-school heavy metal with some fairly technical vibes, with a heavy dose of cheese on top. To add to the fun, the band had their own entertainers during parts of their show – at one point, two guys showering the sky with sparks with saws and metal rods, while during another song, a female fire-breather criss-crossed the stage. With plenty of silly riffs and charisma between songs, Attica Rage layed down a good fun show.

At the Jagermeister stage, RSJ are to come, but when the lights dim, instead of a roar of guitars and a “HELLO HAMMERFEST” we get some bubbly synthpop for a minute, until a sample of scientists talking about the Higgs Boson Particle rings out. The band walk onstage, soon jumping and riffing to the sample like rabid chimps. Vocalist Dan Cook looks ready to assault anyone at the front, while guitarists Guff Thomas and Dan Kentley slam their tools with no remorse. The sample stops and RSJ begins to plough through a pretty overwhelming set – imagine Converge, Will Haven and Shaped By Fate constantly cutting each other up: you get RSJ. Juxtaposing their intense music, songs are often broken up with humorous samples, Keisha’s Tik-Tok and Olivia Newton-John’s (Let’s Get) Physical being just some of the ones catching you by surprise. By the end of the set, one of the guitarists climbed over the barrier and proceeded to walk through the crowd with his guitar held above his head like a sacrifice. Needless to say, they put on a great show.

Iron Saviour filled the Dragon arena and basically delivered a ballad-heavy take on power metal which the audience seemed to enjoy – one tall fan in a white shirt working himself into such a frenzy that would exhaust any high-ranking athlete. Vocalist and guitarist Piet Sielck had a fair amount of cheery banter to keep the mood at a constant high too.

Chimp Spanner managed to gather a pretty big crowd back at the Jagermeister stage, mesmerising a good majority of it with incredibly atmospheric instrumental technical metal, or djent if you prefer. Although dealing without vocals is sometimes a barrier when it comes to a live setting, it didn’t seem to appear here, with a fair few people headbanging and fistpumping along. Next up is Bloodshot Dawn, who upped the ante with their technical death metal and actually manage to get a circle pit out of the crowd. Dyscarnate vocalist Tom Whitty joined the band for one song, helping Bloodshot Dawn to somehow further the brutality of their live set, and they absolutely nailed it.

Next up was one of the headliners, UK’s currently wave-making black metallers Winterfylleth, who came on to a roar of cheers – obviously a highly anticipated band for most people there. If you’ve never seen Winterfylleth before but heard their music, what Winterfyllethyou might expect visually is a lot different than what you get: no corpsepaint or inverted crosses but four regular guys in jeans and t-shirts. Without all the gimmicks, the band just rip through song after song with such a verocity that it feels like the skin on your neck is slowly being ripped away, and you could feel a small gust between the holes of the front barrier. While the band did experience some technical difficulties, vocalist and guitarist Christopher Naughton joked about ‘finally’ being able to play near a Papa John’s, which was met with laughter. They just put on amazing show that made the stage feel that bit bigger than it really was.

After that, Lifer came on to another lot of cheers and simply played an impressive set with their straight-up metal. The crowd seemed to love them and they no doubt made themselves a fair amount of new admirers that night.


Back at the Dragon stage, Germany’s thrash veterans Destruction are next, and you can feel the electricity of the crowd’s anticipation. Eventually the band walk onstage to excitable Destructioncrowd, but what you don’t expect is just THREE people – usually there is a second guitarist but Mike Sifringer is the only six-stringer onstage. All doubts were cast aside once they opened with Thrash ‘til Death, instantly injecting the crowd with adrenaline and sounding pretty perfect – gaining even more enthusiasm from the crowd when they played another fan favourite Nailed To The Cross. Destruction were just perfect and being short of one guitarist did nothing to hold them back, the aggression, the heaviness and the speed were all present and delivered without a hitch. If you love your thrash metal, and haven’t seen Destruction, then you’ve got something to add to your bucket list.

SATURDAY

The third day of Hammerfest V was a breaking point for a lot of people with hangovers, finally feeling it catch up with them, yet OAF was the ideal remedy to the problem. A two-man band and offered the most bizarre set of the weekend. On drums and backing vocalsOAF is James Rayment, dressed like a 50’s dad in a woolly sweater, tie, trousers and smart shoes with his hair slicked back; while on bass and lead vocals Dom Lawson, who looks like Corpsegrinder’s friendlier brother. This odd mix caught a lot of people’s attention, and so did their comedic take on punk meets prog, with song titles like Wanking With A Fistful Of Shit and Fuck Off Seagull (which featured guest vocals from Evil Scarecrow’s Dr. Hell), and a lot of dry commentary inbetween, often with the crowd. The whole crowd was in stitches and OAF were just the perfect start to the day.

Next up was a more serious matter, this time Flayed Disciple, who churn out a gruelling version of technical death metal that never lets you settle comfortably – a groove might last seven seconds before they spiral into another extreme direction. Vocalist Tim Whyte looks like a madman with his poses and facial expression, which sort of adds to the insanity of their music – especially during The Westboro Massacre. It’s pretty unfathomable to think of any complaints with a band that played as they did and it’s probably safe to say they won some new fans in the crowd.

Driven took to the stage next and for the most part sort of flopped in comparison to the two previous bands; which probably wasn’t helped by their easy-listening rock’n’roll style. Despite this, they eventually won the crowd over and loosened them up, even getting a big number of the audience to partake in a huge conga circle, which eventually morphed into a circle pit – which was pretty astonishing to see happen so early in the day, and so you couldn’t help but respect the band for their efforts and determination.

Monument followed with a sort of mix of power and old-school metal (just think Judas Priest and Iron Maiden), and while the vocalist, Peter Ellis, had a lot of flair in his performance and crowd interaction, the crowd stayed at a timid mood throughout – but did fill out a lot more by the end of the set. They also cranked out a pretty great cover of Deep Purple’s Black Night. Bull Riff Stampede came on next and gifted the audience with a nice mix of thrash and death metal, which got them a decent turnout.

Then Making Monsters arrived and it seemed that if there had been a bigger audience, the band would have had a much warmer reception than they got, ultimately left with a tough crowd. Providing metalcore with more interesting twists, the band clearly tried their best to get a reaction which never really came, despite vocalist Emma’s pretty intense activity onstage and impressive mix of cleans, screams and growls, and the performance of the band was flawless. It really seemed like a case of the wrong time with the crowd.

Oxford’s Undersmile soon began setting up, and during this time you see that Hel Sterne and Taz Corona-Brown are both dressed in pretty red dresses, and being new to the band (as probably a fair number of the audience was too), expectancies were a bit all over the place. BUT… as soon as the band kicked in, it became obvious that Undersmile were simply practicing champions of doom/drone metal – just think of the sludgy moments of Jucifer, lather it with more reverb and a suicidal feel with monotone chants. HEAVY. The atmosphere throughout was nothing short of intense and compelling; which wasn’t interrupted by chatter from the band at all, something that would have surely ruined the sensibility of it all. Undersmile simply slayed, leaving the crowd literally screaming for more. Just go see them if you get the chance!

Serpent Venom followed with their own doomy goodness, this time of the sludge variety, Serpent Venomand delivered a pretty straightforward performance, although bassist Nick Davies nips in some friendly banter with the crowd; a few of which are clearly good friends of his. Just imagine all the classic doom bands morphed into one Eyehategod style delivery, and that’s Serpent Venom. Just a great, solid performance!

H A R K from Swansea came on next and downright blew the crowd away. Vocalist and guitarist Jimbob Isaac, formerly of the great Taint, just shredded, pounded and yelled sludgy goodness, with a progressive touch. At one point, he announces how happy he is to be playing there and points to a member of the audience with a Welsh rugby shirt, and dedicates a song to him – which was enthusiastically met with chants of “Wey-ales! Wey-ales!”. For those who knew Taint, it felt like an immense sense of return to form for Jimbob, who was sorely missed in the South Wales metal/rock scene when the band called it quits. H A R K made a triumphant stand and just conquered the audience.

Heading over to the Dragon stage, Candlemass are soon to hit the stage and the anxiety is almost torture, especially when they run a little late. Yet as soon as the band strides Candlemassonstage, joyful cheers are screamed towards them. Even though the majority of its members are old enough to be grandfathers now, Candlemass are rocking just as hard as much as the younger bands and vocalist Mats Levén proves himself more than worthy of standing in the frontman spotlight. Although their set is short, they manage to squeeze in many of the fan favourites like Solitude, Black As Time and At The Gallows End. Just a brilliant set by the doom legends.

Saint Vitus were next to be unleashed on the Hammerfest crowd next with their more stoner/heavy metal style of doom, which was just as warmly welcome too. Wino had the Saint Vitusthousand mile stare and looked like he could rip heads off at any moment, while guitarist Dave Chandler seemed like the most friendly dude going. The band seemed to be experiencing sound problems too, but they continued blasting out a set of favourites with I Bleed Black, Let Them Fall, Dying Inside and The Bleeding Ground. And when it comes to soloing and pulling off guitar stunts, Dave seems too bring everything to the table; at moments biting the strings, sliding the guitar with his bracelet and an array of others. There was also a point where security began grabbing people near the front due to smoking, which angered the band into telling the security to leave them be – which seemed to work from a distance. Saint Vitus was everything you’d expect them to be and more, truly stunning.

Last up was the infamous (and rightly so) Napalm Death, the Birmingham grinders brought the the day to brutal end, leaving barely any room between songs for you to breathe (apart from two or three gaps where Barney explained viewpoints and song meanings). The crowd simply lost it throughout too with a sea of swinging heads, flying fists and a myriad of crowdsurfers; which seemed to be cultivated in Barney’s unpredictable and chaotic domination of the stage. The only unfortunate thing was that because of a recurring lateness of bands coming on, the set was fairly short, but not without playing the greats like Scum, Suffer The Children, Silence Is Deafening and the legendary You Suffer. Once they finished, walking offstage and the lights came back on, all you could see was sweaty but grinning faces, bringing Hammerfest V to a great end.

Review by RichReviewz

Eyesore Merch @ Hammerfest 5: In Fear Of The Dragon!


This year at Wales’s biggest metal fest, held at the Hafan Y Môr Holiday Park in Pwllheli, the Eyesore Merch team will be hitting Hammerfest 5: In Fear Of The Dragon, ready with a stall to satisfy your band merch needs!

The festival will be providing sets from the likes of the thrash-hards Sodom and Destruction, grindfathers Napalm Death, doomsayers Saint Vitus and Candlemass, hardcore vets Hatebreed, industrialists Killing Joke and death purveyors Ensalved. There will also be a big selection of popular acts from the underground with Winterfylleth, Dyscarnate, Flayed Disciple, Lifer, Bloodshot Dawn, Serpent Venom and many, many more.

Eyesore Merch will be setting up shop and selling merch of Hammerfest attendants Napalm DeathEnslavedAngel Witch and Killing Joke; as well as a wide, general selection of other band merch.

Not only that, but you can expect a live review feed on both the official Eyesore Merch Twitter and Facebook pages, keeping you updated on who rocked and who slopped – plus we’ll be posting interviews as well!

Let us know who you’re excited to see and who are the acts not to miss over the three-day event

In the meantime, this is who we’re excited for:

Ali –

Hammerfest is nigh! Really looking forward to hitting Wales again this year for some metal mayhem. This fest has been getting better every year and has some seriously cool bands to check out in 2013. I can’t wait for a dose of Killing Joke as I have never seen them live before. Massively excited to see Enslaved again, especially with new album RIITIIR under their belts as well as the dulcet doom tones of Candlemass and Saint Vitus. Oh, and I was surprised and happy to see the impressive Chimp Spanner on the bill. Looking forward to see how he handles the usually solo project with a full live band. Come by the Eyesore Merch stall, say Raaaaggghh, drink beer and buy merch! See you in 2 days people 🙂

Rich –

If I hadn’t already seen Napalm Death before, they would be in the number one spot. However, I’m most excited to see Saint Vitus play on Saturday – one of the most influential bands in doom and stoner metal, and fronted by the legendary Wino, whose performance in will be without a doubt unmissable. I’m pretty hyped to see Candlemass and Destruction (NAILED TO THE CROOOOSS!) too, and Killing Joke will be cool to see as well.

NEWS: Palms Announce Release Date For Debut


Calling all Deftones and Isis fans: Palms, made up by Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and ex-Isis members Jeff Caxide, Aaron Harris and Bryant Clifford Meyer, have finally announced a release date for their debut album!

The album is set to be unleashed on the world on 25th June, 2013. And if that’s not enough, the debut will be released via Mike Patton’s own Ipecac Recordings, which can only mean good things.

Aaron Harris explains the formation of the band:

“Clifford, Jeff and I started Palms a little over a year ago out of a desire to continue making music together after Isis ended. Chino joined shortly after and our sound took shape from there. We’ve worked really hard on this first release and are excited for people to hear it. It’s nice to be back behind the drum kit, and with this lineup.”

While a lot of us Deftones fans are still yearning for new Team Sleep material, or maybe a full-length Crosses album, this seems to be Moreno’s current focus. This time, if judging by the undeniably large Isis influence that will entail from this line-up, we may well hear Moreno experiment with the post-metal/sludge genres, which will be interesting to say the least. Or, the guys may well just catch us all by surprise by creating something completely unexpected.

Are you excited for this release? What are your predictions for the outcome of this meeting of minds? Let us know!

Live Review: Deftones – 19th February 2013 @ O2 Academy, Birmingham


It’s hard to believe that it’s been around three years since Deftones last graced the UK with a tour (rather than lone festival appearances) and judging by the eager queue that forms outside the O2 Academy in Birmingham on that very cold night, it’s been long awaited by many fans.

The mixed crowd alone says a lot about Deftones: 40-year-old punks, young couples folded around each other, long-haired metal fans, a few indie kids sprinkled here and there – all show how diverse the Deftones crowd is and proves that the band doesn’t cater to any one stereotype alone. So then it’s no surprise that the support acts for the night represent the band’s range in both musical styles and tastes.

First up was London’s Three Trapped Tigers; a synth-heavy post-rock band who rely more on electronics than the regular band set-up, and are made up by Tom Rogerson on keyboards and vocals, Matt Calvert on guitar and synths/electronics and Adam Betts on drums. As the trio cover so much ground between them instrumentally, it became clear that they were practically glued to their positions because of it. Although completely understandable, it just didn’t bring the potentially excitable atmosphere as their music indicated at times, which was a shame. In fact, it was perhaps drummer Betts who was the most entertaining due to his frantic flurries during the up-tempo phases. While the set was enjoyable, it didn’t really leave much of an impact personally, yet it seemed that I was alone due to the positive cheers they had between songs.

Next up was California’s post-hardcore outfit letlive. If you’ve been paying any sort of attention to the band over the last year or two, you’ll know that letlive. have whipped up a dedicated cult-like following in the underground via their energetic and highly talked about shows – so much so that the band seem to be nearing mainstream success for it. Any negative connotations you might apply to that sentence would be ill-set however, because letlive. aren’t Mumford & Sons; but a raging beast frothing at the mouth for a feast.

‘Tired’ doesn’t seem to run in Jason Butler’s vocabulary as the frontman pounces across the stage, arms swinging, and apt to leave the microphone in his mouth as he screams to the ceiling. Guitarists Jeff Sahyoun and Jean Nascimento, along with bassist Ryan Johnson, aren’t far behind as they swing their axes while jumping around the stage without missing a note. The band proved that they were right for this tour and probably bagged themselves a bigger fanbase in Birmingham, which is well deserved after the performance they gave.

Finally, after several chants of increasing impatience and thirst, Deftones humbly straddled onstage to a roar of gleeful cheers and wasted little time before hammering into Diamond Eyes, the crowd instantly turning into one big a shuffling battlefield. Chino’s vocals held up remarkably well between the cleans and screams and the whole band were precise and executed it well, which went for the whole set.

The crowd was, to put it bluntly, fucking crazy throughout and only let up a little during the softer moments in the set (which were gifts after being almost crushed on more than one occasion) where the crowd sang in unison instead; which felt magical with the lightshow flowing over us. Chino was pretty fun inbetween songs too, casually interacting with the crowd and the rest of the band (particularly with bassist Sergio Vega, who had his name chanted a few times and looked like he was in his natural environment onstage). The band just seemed at their happiest and closest at this point in their history.

And despite supporting their latest release, “Koi No Yokan”, they only played a couple of tracks from the album (a ‘couple’ being Poltergeist, RosemaryEntombedTempest and Swerve City) and featured a larger number of fan favourites from other albums: “White Pony” made its appearance through PassengerChange (In The House Of Flies)Feiticeira; “Around The Fur” with Dai The Flu (dedicated to original bassist Chi Cheung), My Own Summer (Shove It), Headup and Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away); “Diamond Eyes” via SextapeRocket Skates and CMND/CTRL; the self-titled with Bloody Cape; and “Adrenaline” with Engine No.9 and 7 Words as the encore – the latter of the two being especially brutal to witness.

Needless to say (and unsurprisingly) Deftones killed it and gave more than what the ticket price was worth. By the amount of grinning, sweaty faces I saw once the lights came back on, I think you’d be lucky to find anyone who’d disagree.

Simply unmissable.

Review by Rich Reviewz

Album Review: Cult Of Luna ‘Vertikal’


Cult Of Luna Vertikal reviewCult Of Luna – Vertikal
Genre: Post-metal/Doom metal
Label: Indie Recordings

Cult Of Luna are a septet from Sweden, who are known worldwide yet have a, dare I say it, cult-like following – not one of the first names you think of in post/doom metal, but definitely one of the most praised and respected in the genres. Generally slow-paced, the band never depend solely on their tempo and grumbling guitar tones alone, often bringing in the softer and ambient influences of post-rock into the mix.

So “Vertikal” is the follow-up to 2008’s mighty “Eternal Kingdom”, and is the first album without vocalist Klas Rydberg – however, this loss has definitely not broken Cult Of Luna by any means. “Vertikal” is a concept album (unlike the set-up for the press during “Eternal Kingdom”) and is based on Fritz Lang’s dystopian science fiction Metropolis, released in 1927, while the Weimar Republic was still in in power in post-WWI Germany. Although the film plot is far too detailed to talk about here, Metropolis focused on class differences and distance, featuring an industrial city suffering under a ruler obsessed with wealth.

So you can imagine with this theme in the members’ minds during the creation of this album that we can expect Cult Of Luna to darken their sound… which is exactly what they did. However, electronic influences appear more prominent than ever, contributing to both atmospheric and industrial sounds during parts of this album. There’s also less of the post-metal vibe here, and perhaps more of a progressive sludge sound – yes, the Isis and Mouth Of An Architect comparisons can still be made at times, but a Neurosis influence is far more obvious throughout the album.

The opening track The One is simply an ambient/electronic intro, starting with dull, echoed thuds before a throbbing drone accompanied by soft keys, rising and falling, join in the digital soundscape. Then I: The Weapon starts with roared vocals and mid-paced juttering guitars – the sound that is easily identified as Cult Of Luna’s signature sound. This continues for a while until the guitars fade away a bit, leaving the drums and bass pound along with synthy keys. The band plays with tension slightly, before hopping into a light groove. The electronics keep interjecting at moments, alternating with growling drone lines, the very proggy Isis keys or just a clean keyboard sound. It’s lovely.

Next is the longest track on the album at just under a staggering 19-minutes. Vicarious Redemption is an epic (in the true sense of the word) journey – going through more sections and changes than you care to count. The track opens with a haunting ambient drone while some percussion slips into it; this very sound is enough to send chills down your spine. This atmosphere proceeds to linger for the first 4-minutes or so, before morphing into a lighter tone when soft, reverbed guitars come in, creating the post-rock vibe. It then returns shortly to the darkness before, sludgier guitars coming in sparingly, almost as if Neurosis themselves are jamming with Luna.

This continues for the majority of the song, except for one spectacular moment just over the 11-minute mark that just jumps on you with no warning: ELECTRONIC WOBS. People may very well link it to dubstep (it’s inescapable these days), but it’s so dark and seething (and there’s no “drop” or anything like that). It’s just a wobbling bassline… and it sounds incredibly evil, especially as the vocals roar in some sort of warp. Then the rest of the band kicks back in, and continues as before, but still reminding you of that incredible moment you never saw coming.

The Sweep opens with zappy synths that sounds like something you’d expect from a nu-wave band; this might sound terrible in writing, but it’s actually pulled off well. The track features little to no of the whole band – at least to the point where it’s pretty hard recognise any guitars if there is any. The fifth track, Synchronicity, has a big Godflesh vibe to it with the ringing guitar and the mechanical-sounding drums, as well as injections of background effects and industrial quips – and that’s basically it.

Mute Departure takes a more standard Cult Of Luna approach but after the band has listened to Celtic Frost’s A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh a hundred times. It has the similar creeping, mournful guitars backed by a haunting piano as tribal-sounding drums pound in the background. Eventually the explosion of the band comes, but finishes pretty quickly, falling into a mellower section, and then returning to the same style as the “explosion” part. It is perhaps the most obvious track on the album, but it’s still really enjoyable.

Disharmonia is basically 45-second ambient interlude, very much along the lines of something you’d expect from Nine Inch Nails’ “Ghosts I-IV”; which brings the only complaint that this interlude could have been stretched a little longer, because it’s so soothing and lulls you. But perhaps this is meant to bring you into a false sense of security as In Awe Of suddenly interrupts with low chugging guitars, as louder layers are added quickly. You get these glittering echoed guitars at parts with the rhythm rolling onwards slowly, as well as some big luscious feedback play accompanied by electronics. The vocals are pretty sparse too, making it much easier to lose yourself in the whole thing.

Then we arrive at the last track Passing Through, which starts with the almost lazily picked guitars as clean vocals intertwine, with lines like “All is quiet, empty streets / All is quiet, the city sleeps / Close my eyes, on my knees / And time’s passing me by”; soon followed with twinkling glockenspiel. The atmosphere is just so heavy yet sounds so simple and innocent at the same time. Another guitar and the keyboard joins in, ever so subtly (and bringing a slight Isis feel again), as the vocals simple “ahhh” distantly to the end. A completely fulfilling and enlightening way to close the album.

It’s safe to say that Cult Of Luna have opened 2013 with an undeniable metal titan of an album; while showing no fear to experiment with their sound and to blur the boundaries. “Vertikal” will challenge any long standing Cult Of Luna fan, but not in an excluding way, but more as an eye-opener. The introduction or furthering of influences are far from offensive or distasteful: this is as smooth a change in sound as a slow bend is in a river.

There’s also one thing that’s to be said and that is the vocals are far better on this album than ever before, just sounding stronger and not so strained/raspy. The vocals are definitely an improvement here, and with the electronic influence, they make “Vertikal” a far more enjoyable album to sit through from beginning to end, which has personally been a problem with some previous releases. If you’re a Cult Of Luna fan, then this album should be no problem for you… it may just well be their best.

9/10
Favourite tracks: Vicarious RedemptionPassing ThroughI: The Weapon.

Review by Rich Reviewz

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