Review by Laura Herbert. Photos by Hannah Cole & Katie Croft.
At the intimate venue of the Scream Lounge, in the heart of Croydon, a buzzing audience gathers in force to support Doomed From Day One‘s launch of their second EP ‘Nine Fingers‘. A sense of excitement for the local music scene hangs in the air for the duration of tonight’s show.
Deny The Flesh take to the stage first. Possessed, vocalist Jonas Packer’s eyes roll into the back of his head as he lets out deafening screams, paired with a unique stage presence, they give an interesting performance which sets them apart from the same old shouting and jumping that is seen all too often these days.
Shields are rising in the ranks of the UK’s underground scene at an impressive pace. Always on tour, it was a pleasure to see the lads in a local venue where their time is becoming less and less available. With a crisp performance, breakdowns aplenty and not a static moment to be found, it’s easy to see why they’re becoming such a highlight in London’s ever increasing sea of bands. The clean vocals offered by guitarist Sam Kubrick were confident and exceptional, giving the band an edge otherwise not seen tonight. A manic jumping jack is vocalist Joe Edwards, unfortunately hindering his vocals slightly, but nevertheless gives an empowering performance and proving that dedication really does pay off.
Penultimate band of the night, Foreboding Ether captivate the audience with their polished performance with absolute ease. Insanely fast riffs and beats encapsulate their sound as well as two vocalists, each as unique as the other and both surely capable of heading such a band. Track Fore20 is a perfect example of the bands technicality and song writing abilities, equally as heavy but slow beatdowns create a chance for the pit to open up, ending their set in a fairly impressive way.
With excitable looks on their faces, Doomed From Day One take to the stage with cheers from the packed out venue before them, in which vocalist Sean Scott responds “This is the first time we’ve played all the tracks from the EP, thanks so much for coming down”. And with that, the show gets underway. Title track and intro Nine Fingers readies the audience, already heavy with anticipation for the barrage intense technical prowess to come. The relaxing, jazzy sections found throughout their music gives the crowd a break, albeit a brief one, leaving everyone in a bit of a daze. Despite hailing from Guildford, Surrey, the boys in Doomed From Day One look right at home in Croydon tonight, feeding off of the crowd and giving them everything they have to give.
Review by Andy Leddington.
Music is a funny thing. It has the power to make you feel a whole host of emotions, whilst at the same time making it frustratingly difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes you feel the way it does or exactly you like about it. Naturally, as a music journalist, these albums make it very difficult to tell you what is so incredible about what are, almost always, masterpieces. And this debut mini album from Empire can only be classed as just that, a masterpiece.
So what is it about this album that makes it so good? The most immediate place to start would be the vocals: lead vocalist Joe Green is one of those annoying people who seem to be able to sing better than almost everyone else, and make it seem so natural that you reckon you could give it a go yourself. Imagine the lovechild of Michael Poulsen and Myles Kennedy had spent most of his childhood with Benji Webbe. Sounds a bit like that, but again, it is very difficult to convey exactly how unique this mans voice really is.
Of course, the album with Green’s voice alone would be nothing compared to the album that we now have, complete with all of the epic instrumental work that Empire are capable of producing. Opening song and first single Black Hearts is a perfect example of how the instrumentation (guitars especially) on this album are both heavy, melodic, and instantly memorable at the same time.
Most of all, this album is completely timeless. Fans of rock/metal music of all ages will find something in this album to adore. The massive choruses, fantastic riffs, beautiful singing and pounding rhythms are all concepts that can be found in music right the way from Iron Maiden to Nickelback. I’m not saying that Empire sound like Nickelback or Iron Maiden, but there are certain elements that can be found throughout all hard rock music that Empire don’t just recreate, they revolutionise.
Review by Phill Porteous-Haines
After the release of Serpents Chokehold back in January of this year; Malevolence have been furiously tearing their way through to the top of the scene with appearances at several UK festivals and the signing to label Siege Of Amida. 11 months on and things are still picking up for the band as release of debut album Reign of Suffering draws close and boy, is it a good one.
For those of you already familiar with the common ingredients of a Malevolence song, you’ll be happy to know that things are more or less the same but with a much harder punch. For those of you not familiar.. Well, let’s hope you like riffs. Lots of riffs. With an abundance of these in every track, backed by head thumping drums that blow you away in your seat, intro track In the Face of Death is first to show fans that Malevolence really mean business with this album, and acts as a fantastic warmup to the next few tracks.
Malevolence have an unmistakeable talent for mixing things up by throwing in a selection of powerful breakdowns, beatdowns and small vocal parts that splatter across the chugs, that leaves you with nothing else to do apart from bang your head. Guitarists Konan and Josh spice things up even more with plenty of technical taps and pinches throughout the album, most notably on Eternal Torment, while drummer Charlie backs them up with violent, well timed double kicks and intense drum fills.
Turn to Stone is a real highlight of the album, as it shows off a slower side to Malevolence. Wahed guitar parts and slow drums build up into a seven minute masterpiece complete with Pantera styled singing, and a never ending spree of guitar solos. Another huge highlight is the re-recorded of Serpents Chokehold and Wraith; both showing off just how much the already impressive vocals of Alex have gained even more power and precision over the last year.
It seems that these days there is a competition that’s growing more and more popular between bands as to who can be the most heavy while still actually being able to be heard. There are bands like The Acacia Strain who downtune to bowel-threatening levels and chug forth; then there are bands like In Ruins who seem simply content with ripping your face apart with their music and leaving you a quivering lump of mess on the floor still trying to throw down.
But whilst In Ruins are undeniably heavy (just ask my flatmates, who have had to deal with the noise of this EP being played at offensive levels) they are also able to blend this with a melodic side which, rather than contrasting with the heavier elements of their music, seems more to blend into it, to the point that you only realise the breakdowns have stopped and the clean guitars have been brought in; the discordant riff replaced with slightly more sensible chord progressions, about halfway through the passage itself. There’s no clean vocals (save the occasional gang vocal passage) but why would you need them when you can have such powerful screams, accentuated at times by a distant echo or reverb effect?
Which is why this EP really, really works. In Ruins’ ability to remain completely true to a sound, and a genre, whilst at the same time managing to sound at times like Defeater, and at others like old-school The Devil Wears Prada, is why this EP is so good. In a way, it is almost a blessing that they recently decided to call it a day, as the one concern for In Ruins is that a full-length album may not give them the right platform that this EP’s stab-in-the-gut immediacy had. But if In Ruins are the musicians that they appear to be, judging from this EP, then there is no doubt that whatever came next would be something to be truly proud of.
Review by Lauren Ashton.
On the back of the release of their exceptional third album Old Souls, the Norfolk rockers Deaf Havana set out on their UK tour, stopping off in 8 different cities around the country to promote Old Souls and ultimately prove why they can securely take their position as part of the ever growing British rock scene.
Gracing the stage in Nottingham first were Big Sixes, a relatively new band on the rock scene but nevertheless a talented group of guys who could certainly make a name for themselves in the music industry. It can be easily seen why the group from Buckinghamshire were a perfect opening for the night; big powerful songs with an essence of Deaf Havana within their musicality, they certainly were able to warm up the crowd for what the night had in store.
The Nottinghamshire crowd didn’t have to wait long before the second and therefore the final support act played in front of the 2000 capacity room. Enter, Charlie Simpson. Gone are his days of pop music, Charlie has simply morphed into something that is truly his own, playing 9 songs from 2011 release Young Pilgrim such as Parachute, Down Down Down and Cemetery before also treating the crowd to a couple of songs off his new album due to be released in 2014. Charlie Simpson was certainly a crowd pleaser causing ripples of sing-a-longs and pockets of mass clapping, this small set was nothing but perfect.
However, the night was ultimately about one band Deaf Havana; walking onto the stage to Elvis Presley’s Teddy Bear everyone within the venue knew they were in for a real treat.
Providing the crowd with musical bliss off 2011 release Fools and Worthless Liars and their new album Old Souls there was something in the varied, and simply brilliant set for both new and older fans of Deaf Havana. For what lead singer, James Veck-Gilodi lacks in self-confidence, he makes up for with lyrical brilliance, in where he is able to recall his own memories, his own stories through the medium of music which ultimately causes the creation of some of the most heartfelt and emotional songs that will ever grace your ears. This makes the whole essence of Deaf Havana live all the more special, hearing all the emotion and raw talent being effortlessly poured into each song during the 17 track set.
Bouncing from heavier tracks such as Leeches and I Will Try to more mellow and laid back songs like Tuesday People and Saved, the whole idea of ‘real, honest music’ ran throughout the set with no auto-tune, no mechanical sounds, and no songs written purely based for commercial success within the bands weaponry. Instead the band focuses upon the wants of the fans and the love they have for music; they certainly understand how much their music means to their fans and the constant ‘thank you’ messages the band gave throughout the set for buying an album, for coming to a show, for just listening to their music was certainly representative of how grateful the band are for their strong, dedicated fan base.
Singles such as the powerful I’m a Bore, Mostly , Mildred, Boston Square and Hunstanton Pier all took their rightful place within the set providing many a mosh pit and mass sing-a-long which were clearly overpowering any efforts James and Matthew attempted at singing the lyrics.
The crowd were also treated to 2 alternative versions of songs previously released on Fools and Worthless Liars (Deluxe Edition) in 2012; The World or Nothing and Anemophobia. Both were individual and perfect in their own right with The World or Nothing being heavily based on the more haunting side of James’ voice with a big emphasis upon a drum rhythms and Anemophobia being stripped back to the beautifully simplistic combination of just a piano and again what has to be one of the most talented voices within the British rock industry. There is simply nothing this band can’t do.
Walking out from the gig all that could be heard was how amazing the night was, or how that was the best gig that the fans had even been too. If you haven’t gathered by now, and if you are yet to see Deaf Havana on tour or even encounter their music before, you are seriously missing out on one of the most down to earth and talented bands in the UK to date. Deaf Havana at Nottingham Rock City, done.
Review by Andy Leddington
What do you know about genre? What do you know about heaviness? Take those things, put them in a large sack, and throw them into a river, because this latest Heart of a Coward album pretty much totally redefines what it means to be a heavy metal band in this age.
Many people attempted to put a label on Heart of a Coward after their debut release Hope and Hindrance last year; djent was cited a lot, as it is whenever a modern band drop-tunes a 7-string guitar lower than Korn used to, as was metalcore, and the occasional attempt was made to introduce some hilariously witty new word to describe them. Severance will leave you lying awake at night with blood streaming out of your ears and burn holes where your speakers used to be.
The best way to describe Severance is simply: heavy. There is not a single moment that does not sound like it was made by five very angry men who want to translate to the entire fucking world how pissed off they are. Right from the pounding, gnarly intro to Monstro, through the heightened, clean-sung choruses of Distance, the chug-heavy smack of first single Deadweight, the thrash-like punch in the face of Psychophant, all the way through to the dark majesty that is title track Severance, this album both sums up everything that is breathtaking about heavy music, and totally tears up the book which dictates how each genre denominates itself.
This, ladies and gentleman, is why the ‘repeat’ button was invented.
Severance is out November 4th via Century Media Records.