The Dillinger Escape Plan + Ho99o9 + Primitive Weapons

The Waterfront, Norwich. 18th January 2017.

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It’s no secret now that THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN are parting ways after their world tour this year. This makes tonight extra special; the first date of their UK tour and the final time Norwich will play hosts to the band with such a legendary live reputation. There are big expectations this evening.

Kicking off the night is Brooklyn mob PRIMITIVE WEAPONS. Luckily the group played to quite a healthy-sized crowd enabling frontman David Castillo to feed off the punters’ energy, flailing around on stage to the band’s energetic post-hardcore. With a live show and sound not to dissimilar to CANCER BATS, PRIMITIVE WEAPONS are an entertaining force to watch live. There’s no doubt the most captivating member is Castillo, with his intense eye contact and his love of hopping on and jumping off floor monitors. You get the feeling the band know they’re opening for DILLINGER, so a bit of active interaction with stage equipment is a taste of what’s to come. Newest single Panopticon Blues goes down a treat with plenty of banging heads down the front. The band look chuffed at the end of the set and the crowd seem to be equally impressed too.

There was a bit of a buzz surrounding the next band HO99O9, “I heard they were rap” was the general consensus so everyone was a little intrigued. This is a DILLINGER gig after all, so anything could happen. I don’t think anyone was prepared for when HO99O9 did burst into action though, with vocalist Eaddy diving into the crowd. The pit lapped it up, getting the chaotic energy going while theOGM, clad in a wedding dress and balaclava, kicked into an intense vocal delivery HO99O9 will no doubt will become infamous for. Audience members were either standing there perplexed or instantly won over, but there’s no denying HO99O9 got a reaction from every single person in the room. If you couldn’t see the band, then you could definitely feel their sound, with the bass absolutely tearing through you, rooting you to the spot. TheOGM swapped the balaclava for a head torch and before his intense solo interlude. When both vocalists work together along with their drummer, the band supply Norwich with a bit of everything from hardcore punk to grime. Love them or hate them, there’s a high chance you’ll be dancing by the end of their set.

By now, the venue was buzzing with anticipation for THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN. After the visual delight of HO99O9, expectations were high, but fans needn’t have worried as the experimental troupe crashed into our consciousness with a backlight of strobes and pure intensity. Opening with Limerent Death, the band wasted no time in bringing absolute carnage to Norwich, swinging from the ceiling and crawling on the tops of the crowd. Guitarist Ben Weinman especially, being held up by fans so he could stand on heads like some sort of triumphant progressive god. The band bashed out all the favourites including Milk Lizard and Hero of the Soviet Union in a flail of swinging beards and guitars. Vocalist Greg Puciato seemed a little shy tonight with regard to his reputation of being an absolute madman on stage, but his stage presence still surpasses the majority of his contemporaries, cementing the fact there will be a gaping hole left in live metal once the band part ways. Barely a word is spoken between songs and once the set is over, there are no goodbyes. All that was needed to be said was expressed through the band’s brutal delivery. Absolutely spellbinding.

Photographs courtesy of Lee Harper/Go To The Gig.

 

Valis Ablaze – Insularity

Self-release. Release date: 30th January 2017.

The opening bars of Insularity confront you with an instant TESSERACT vibe, which is never a bad thing if executed well, luckily in VALIS ABLAZE’s case, it is! Over the duration of the EP, this TESSERACT influence slowly ebbs away enabling VALIS ABLAZE to demonstrate the beginnings of the niche they are carving themselves in the UK tech metal scene. With the impressive vocals of new frontman Phil Owen and the progressive guitars by Ash Cook and Tom Moore, this band from Bristol achieve an ambitious sound with the help from producer Drewsif Stalin.

First track Resolution is reminiscent of One-era TESSERACT, with the bass-heavy verse and sprinkling of guitars which soon crash into a beastly riff and a catchy chorus fellow British metallers EXIT TEN would have been proud of. Inertia bursts into your consciousness with a glorious VOLA-esque riff, and it soon becomes apparent that VALIS ABLAZE have developed a knack for penning killer choruses and irresistible riffs. As unoriginal as that combination sounds, this band do actually provide top notch melodic goods with plenty of heart and power.

The electronic effects at the beginning of Lost in Syntax add another appealing dynamic to VALIS ABLAZE’s sound. The urgent riffs set the foundation for a high energy song which gathers pace then clears into a delicious haze of intricate elements. Title track Insularity has one of the most memorable beginnings on the EP, with a riff which borders on post-hardcore and a smattering of piano. This is one of the strongest tracks in terms of an original sound and diversity. Phil Owen also seems to find his own vocal style with this track which carries the song beautifully along until the last note fades out.

The urge to describe the opening riff of Persuasion as djent is strong, but it is a terrific punchy progressive number with subtle electronic flourishes here and there which enriches the sound. Things slow down a bit for the EP finale Legacy, which brings Insularity to a spectacular close. Bassist Kieran Hogarty also has his chance to shine, providing a rumbling bass riff throughout the emotionally intense song. The triumphant riff towards the end of the track leads into the progressive outro and brings Insularity to a final halt.

An impressive effort from another promising British progressive band, VALIS ABLAZE have all the components for something truly special. To push themselves to the forefront of the scene the band should focus on nurturing and fine-tuning their own sound, as the band have proved with this EP they already harness the talent and passion to potentially become a leading force themselves.

Brutai on ‘Born’

Brutai on their album, tour and the year ahead

It was a freezing evening in Norwich when I went to meet BRUTAI at Norwich’s Waterfront venue. The second day of supporting DEVIL YOU KNOW, ONI and WEARING SCARS on their UK tour, Felix Lawrie and Henry Ryan (pictured) seemed quietly excited yet composed as we sat down to talk about the tour and their debut album Born, which was released last November to rave reviews. Chatting about the bands featured on the walls of the venue (just what did happen to SHADOWS FALL?!) the guys were polite and relaxed as they settled down to chat.

So it’s the second day of the tour, how’s it going so far?

Felix (vocals and guitar): It’s going as well as we could have imagined really. You have the first day nerves and getting introduced to everyone. Then getting to grips with what everyone’s bringing, who’s going to be on stage and what time. It’s sort of an introductory thing the first day and with the first show, your mentality can only be “ok one down, on to the next one”.

Henry (guitar):  I think for me after two or three shows of the tour it starts to get a lot more comfortable. I mean, when was the last gig before this?

Felix: Probably December?

Henry: Yea so we’ve had a little bit of a break so it’s always the first gig with a bit of edge to it.

Felix: Getting into the routine of everything as well, living together for the next couple of weeks.

Yea, in your motorhome! Tell me about your motorhome…

Henry: It’s the second time now. We find instead of going for a van and accommodation separately, we thought we’d sleep and travel. We’re not in the position to have a tour bus.

Felix: It does actually save quite a lot of money and it’s actually quite financially viable doing it this way and also pretty cool. You got all your gear and you turn up in your motorhome and people are like “what are those gypsies doing? Ah no, it’s Brutai!”.

Henry: Yea, we’re like a caravan club basically.

Felix: Yea caravan club!

And you can cook in there…

Henry: Yea! Fairly basic cooking in there.

Felix: Alex (Lorimer, keys) is the resident chef, he’s taken it upon himself, prepping a lot of food. I think they’re actually having dinner right now.

Henry: Quick bite to eat, yea.

Is this your first full UK tour?

Felix: I’d probably say the biggest one definitely.

Henry: Definitely the biggest.

Felix: We’ve done headline runs, like small weekenders. We did a five day tour with the guys from Centiment, who are the guys from InMe in their metal side project. That was the first time we did the motorhome and that was our first proper tour I think and this one is our biggest one. Big American bands and Wearing Scars, they’ve played massive stadiums. It is our biggest tour, definitely.

Let’s talk about your album. I remember hearing the EP, back in 2013 and when I listened to Born it sounded like Brutai but it sounded more focused and a bit more mature. How did Brutai grow as a band between the EP and the album?

Felix: Well I think you’re probably talking to the right people because we’re the only two members remaining from the EP. The EP was a bit of a weird one because at the time the only official members of the EP recording process was myself, Henry and our old bass player Mike. I think Mike had to leave and we didn’t even have a drummer at the time, we actually hired a session drummer and his name was Mike Pitman and he played in a band called Xerath. He sessioned for us and did the EP, was received well and we got a full line-up. We got Alex involved, our keyboard player, and he brings a bit of a pop sensibility to the writing. He’s been our best mate, we all went to school together you see.

Henry: I think in terms of the difference between the EP and the album musically, there’s obviously the influence of the new members. I think ever since we started this band, the older you get and the more serious it becomes, it means people have to be committed to it so we have had, when we were younger, we had members come and go because they couldn’t commit fully to it.

Felix: We’ve had our fair share of drummers. [laughs] We’re settled now! We’re settled now.

Henry: So we got to the point where everyone’s committed to the band and everyone has an input into the writing process and how the songs sound, then you will naturally have a progression in the music.

Felix: With the EP I think it was more a focussed thing, it was more of a studio project between myself, Henry and Mike at the time.

Henry: Quite rushed.

Felix: Yea a little bit rushed. A little bit rushed I’d say.

Henry: Because it was in the studio.

Felix: Yea and this one, with Born it was a longer process because we demoed songs, we had a couple of songs written after the EP came out. So it was a slow burner, the album. But we had a sense of direction we wanted to go, we wanted a bit more melody involved and it was a lot easier with Alex in the band and Matt’s (Bauer, drums) got his very own style of drumming as well. He’s not your traditional metal drummer. He can play metal. We always set ourselves out that we didn’t want a great metal drummer, we wanted a drummer, a great drummer that can adapt to metal. So Matt brings his flair, everyone has their moments to shine on the album and we think it comes across quite well.

Listening to Born, you have loads of different metal styles you can hear, so what were the main styles you were drawing from when you were writing or is it a bit of everything?

Felix: I think it’s a bit of everything. It all starts with an idea right, it starts with like, Henry sends me a quick demo “I’ve just spent 30 seconds writing this riff!” and that’s like, that’s pretty sick! So it starts with an idea from probably myself, Henry or Alex, albeit a keyboard line, a little vocal hook or a riff. It was mainly riffs with the way it starts off. Then we bring it to the table, then we spend a bit of time and go off and develop those songs, and for Born it was a bit of a slower process. We’d spend more time on the structures and actually writing the songs themselves sometimes, so piecing things together at different times really.

Henry: The album is quite varied, some of the songs are, strange to say, more poppy influenced songs, so they’re fairly simple structures compared to some of the other songs which are not simple at all. So there are definitely different elements, but the idea for us is we wanted them all to work together and not be too much of a difference.

Felix: I’d probably say as well, for each of the songs you’ve got someone who personally headed the idea so they’re kinda like, in charge.

Henry: Of the direction.

Felix: Yea in charge of the direction and we develop the ideas together like team leader for the song. For example track 8, Over Now is actually a really old song written by Alex ages ago.

Really? Because that’s the poppiest song.

Felix: Exactly, haha exactly.

Henry: If you heard the first verse of that song…

Felix: Oh my god, bless him, it used to be a break up song when he was like, 20.

Henry: [sings] It was a love song.

Felix: Haha, yea it was a love song when he was like 20. I always thought it was a great song, I wasn’t too mad on the first batch of lyrics because they were a bit too soppy, let’s just say. But then it was like, this is a great song, you know the vocal hooks were there, it’s got some really cool atmospherics, he just came over to my house one day and we spent a whole afternoon just trying some riffs out and chop some things together. New middle eight, change the lyrics a bit [laughs] and then it was like, boom, there you go. But it’s still Al’s song, but we all wrote it together but he’s the team leader on that one I’d probably say. Everyone’s a team leader for each song.

I was thinking about, every time I listen to the album I always get a new favourite…

Felix: That’s good! That’s good.

…so first time it was Lucidity

Felix: That’s Henry’s.

And then it was Over Now and currently it’s Dear Emily.

Felix: Cool that’s my one. [laughs] You got one from each!

Haha! I did not plan this!

Henry: I think we’ve all done that at some point, when we listen back to it, it takes a long time to adjust, you lose perspective because obviously you play it so many times in the recording stage. When it’s finished, and when it’s mixed and mastered, it sounds different. So it takes you a long time to adjust to listening to it back. And I think we’ve all been close to having different favourites at different times. I don’t know what that means but I guess it’s a good thing.

Felix: Obviously when you’re in the writing mode and the recording mode, and even listening back to mixes constantly, you’re absorbed in your songs. I like to take long breaks from listening to it. And then the odd time I’ll go back to it and chuck on the album again and be like, “that’s a really cool part” or “that’s my new favourite song”. Yea the favourites change a lot.

How involved are you in the production of it? With your next album would you like to get more involved?

Henry: The next one is still up for discussion, it was definitely an advantage for us to record Born with guitar, bass, vocals, keyboards, everything apart from drums at one of our houses. So that saved a lot of money and then we could be a lot more relaxed actually recording it and not have a time limit and spending extra money for going over. So that is definitely an advantage and having a quality producer like Matt Hyde who did Born, can make it sound like a studio album. You do hear about bands spending an insane amount of money on albums in the studio and compare with others and you think, well fair enough it’s a lot of money. But having a studio album has its advantages because if you go to a proper recording studio then there are certain things you’re never going to have in your house.

Felix: None of us are rolling in the dosh so we were very cost effective but you know, we spent a good amount of money into the record, invested quite a bit of our own money into it but when people hear it they’re probably wondering how much it cost. We were very diligent with our savings.

Henry: To answer your question, it has its ups and downs, we do like recording at home but maybe at some point we’d look at doing a full studio album.

Felix: If the opportunity arose I’d absolutely love to, but it just depends on the circumstances, who it’s with, where it is, how much it costs. Do we go in with no ideas, do we bring stuff on the table? It’s very circumstantial. I’d love to do a studio album at some point because I just think you probably, forgive the pun, but you’d probably give birth to a different type of album, so yea and a different type of album would be born…

[laughs]

Ok, so this year you’re already on this tour and you’re already set for ProgPower Europe, any other big plans? Or is there anything in particular you’d like to achieve as a band?

Henry: We’d like to do a lot more festivals in the summer, there’s a couple of things we can’t announce right now.

Felix: Is there?

[laughs]

Felix: We’ll try and make arrangements around ProgPower, we’d like to do something in and around Europe if it’s a possibility.

Yea, have you played Europe yet?

Felix: Yea, we’ve done Euroblast and we’ve done shows in Hamburg before…

Henry: We’ve played Ibiza.

Felix: Hard Rock Hell Ibiza. So we’ve done a few places in Europe before, but we’d like to do some surrounding European shows, I think that’s a personal target for the band, is to branch out to Europe, get some good festival slots and also do small headline runs. I don’t think we’re at the level to do shows all around the country doing headline runs, so we’re happy to get on bigger tours opening second supports. We want to do a headline run, but probably not 20 dates up and down the country.

Cool. Lastly, just what does Brutai mean?

Henry: We haven’t explained this in a long time [laughs]

Felix: [laughs] I mean I wish there was a great story, there really isn’t.

Henry: It’s named after a cat, let’s just get to it.

Felix: I have two answers, there is one that is true. And there’s one that sounds a lot better, and I’ve only discovered this recently actually. The name Brutai came about because at the time, probably about 10 years ago when me and Henry first started writing music together, we were a different band. We played different types of music, it was a lot heavier, it was a lot more kitted to the word ‘brutal’ and so ‘Brutai’ was just a play on the words and we just grew accustomed to the name and got a little following round our local circuit. So we just stuck to it, we changed our direction and changed our sound and matured but we just liked the name.

Henry: Yea it’s a cool word.

Felix: Do you want to hear the fake answer? Well, haha, there is a Shakespeare play…

Wait, wasn’t this heard on EastEnders recently?

Henry: Oh god.

Felix: [laughs] It was heard on EastEnders recently. There is a play with Julius Caesar, with a phrase when Julius Caesar is about to be murdered by one of his friends and the last thing Caesar said to his friend Brutus is “And you Brutus” which translates into Latin as “Et tu Brute” so, that’s a much better answer.

Henry: That’s a better answer!

Felix: So I might start using it, this might be the last time I use the real one.

Henry: Could be! Named after Shakespeare. Really intellectual.

Felix: It does sound a bit more intellectual doesn’t it. Named after Shakespeare. Named after a quote by Julius Caesar saying to his friend [posh voice] translated from Latin.

Henry: [laughs] Latin yes.

Felix: We used to play ‘brootal’ music so now it’s Brutai. And I used to call my cat Brutai as well. So the false answer might be making an appearance more. It sounds cooler!

 

Well there you have it. From motorhomes to Shakespeare, Brutai has it covered!

 

Weekly Roundup #15

This week is all about newbies and blasts from the past

Band to watch: TOY MOUNTAINS. Before the end of last year, these young lads from Glasgow were announced as support for PALM READER’s UK tour this February. TOY MOUNTAIN’s EP I Swore I’d Never Speak of this Again is a wonderful mish-mash of all things alternative. Each track brings a fresh new take on different styles, a highlight being Hard Done By which opens with a blissful post-hardcore riff and continues in a glorious haze of alternative rock. The honest lyrics are irresistible and completes the package. Old Friends is a punkier affair, mixing GLASSJAW vibes with indie. It seems on this EP there is something for everyone. Being hard to pigeonhole will highlight the band’s strength of not sticking to one style but successfully maintain the ‘TOY MOUNTAINS’ sound. They manage to capture a nostalgic alternative vibe and if their live shows have the same amount of energy their recordings have, then they would definitely be a band to see.

 

Video to watch: PRIMITIVE WEAPONS. About to embark on a UK tour as support for THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, this post-hardcore troupe from Brooklyn, New York released a video for new single Panopticon Blues and it’s a bit of a political affair. “You’re watched, you’re trapped, you’re never alone” is repeated throughout the song which reflects the claustrophobic 1984-esque feel of the video. The message is clear here but it is the band’s raw energy which gives the video a sense of urgency. With a sound similar to later CANCER BATS and PRIZE COUNTRY, PRIMITIVE WEAPONS have plenty of bass and shouts but the catchy tunes to go with it. With the hard task of warming up the crowds before DILLINGER, I doubt it wouldn’t be too much trouble for these fellas if the raw energy in their recordings is anything to go by.

 

In the stereo: MY VITRIOL. Speak to any MY VITRIOL fan and they’d tell you the wait for a follow-up to 2001’s Finelines was absolutely agonizing, but in October last year the band finally released album number two, The Secret Sessions. As a fan base only release, it was mostly funded by the fans themselves which is what makes this album so special. What’s more, the record was well worth the wait. The most exciting aspect of The Secret Sessions is Som Wardner and Ravi Kesavaram have somehow managed to maintain the early noughties sound but with contemporary production. MY VITRIOL sound deliciously modern while sounding like…MY VITRIOL. Tracks such as It’s So Damn Easy and If Only (God Only Knows) captures the band’s unique combination of shoe-gaze and rock. Blissful riffs and melodies are their speciality and they are still clearly the masters of it. With a stellar second album, let’s hope it won’t be another 15 years until album number three!

 

Band to rediscover: FROM FIRST TO LAST. Yesterday the internet went into meltdown when it was revealed Sonny Moore (you might know him as SKRILLEX) reunited with his old band FROM FIRST TO LAST to sing on new track Make War. It is still not quite clear if Moore is back for the whole album but this was still huge news in the emo world. Nostalgia hit and it seemed everyone was prepared to dig out their eyeliner, straighteners and red and black stripy hoodie. FROM FIRST TO LAST never actually went away though after the departure of Moore in 2007, but they never quite managed to capture the magic of albums such as Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has A Body Count (2004) and Heroine (2006). Moore was a driving force behind these albums with his distinct voice and his hairstyle will always be considered to be the epitome of emo haircuts, but with Make War, the band are following their more post-hardcore direction and it’s very, very promising. With bands like SAOSIN and UNDEROATH having reformed, could 2017 be the year of emo?

 

 

Levels – Exist

Self-released. 7 May 2016.

Reading this band’s press release, an unfamiliar phrase caught my eye; ‘progressive metalcore’. Another silly term to use when pigeonholing bands? Or an accurate description? Well after a listen to their debut EP Exist, ‘progressive metalcore’ does seem quite fitting. A real mish-mash of styles come together in this record by this Arkansas group, and considering they only formed in late 2015, they already have a confident sound.

New single Slip is definitely more on the metalcore side of things, fans of ARCHITECTS and DEVIL WEARS PRADA would approve, but there are hints of other elements starting to emerge. Opening with a devastating riff, Jakes Sanders’ vocals soon blast in with brutal aplomb. As expected, clean vocals kick in for the chorus, but all the vocals on this EP are delivered with such heart and rawness it’s hard not to be drawn into the world of LEVELS. A djent breakdown doesn’t go unnoticed and it is here you start to get a taste of the more progressive components the band are teasing to offer.

American Dream is a bit of a groovy, technical affair then clears into a bluesy interlude which shouldn’t really fit into a song like this, but somehow LEVELS make a seamless transition and demonstrates the band are open to experiment with styles. Contaminate also shows its metalcore and progressive influences on its sleeve. Sounding a cross between DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL and COUNTING DAYS, it is a brutal assault on the senses with the EP’s most crushing riffs.

A calm riff entices you into Manifest, but the aggression quickly storms in and takes over. The technicality and vocals enter SIKTH territory in places, making this tune one of the more progressively chaotic of the record, but one of the most memorable. The Lender seems to mix hardcore and djent which is normally a bit of a risky combination but one which LEVELS executes so well. Bands such as THROWDOWN and A LIFE ONCE LOST spring to mind while listening to this song, bringing an old school sound kicking and screaming into this decade.

Last track Exist is a bit of a darker beast. Probably the most ‘djent’ of all the songs, it has more of an atmospheric vibe happening too. It collapses into a devastating breakdown a band like OCEANO would be proud of. A worthy finale for the EP, the title track definitely has the most happening. Bringing the EP to a crashing close, LEVELS have proven they have what it takes to make an impact on both the metalcore and progressive scenes. Considering how early the band is in its career, the potential here is astounding. Roll on the debut album!

 

Devil You Know + Oni + Wearing Scars + Brutai

The Waterfront Studio, Norwich. 11th January 2017.

A night chock full of metal, growls and melodic howls, tonight felt a very special night, because one person was on everyone’s minds…Howard Jones. Hojo, along with his comrades in DEVIL YOU KNOW are currently on their first UK tour together (finally) and tonight they had rolled into Norwich to grace the city with their brutal tunes.

Kicking off the night were London metallers BRUTAI. Opening with Of Ashes, the band gave it their all from the off, slowly warming up the revellers coming in from the cold. When the main riff of Relapse resonated round the venue, it became clear just how well the band could execute their material from their debut album Born live. Frontman Felix Lawrie and keyboardist Alex Lorimer seriously impressed with their ability to harmonise vocals in a live setting and when the keys kicked in at the start of Lucidity, there were a lot of heads nodding along in appreciation. Singles Deep and Never Change also went down well with the crowd, their catchy brand of modern metal catching the attention of room. The chemistry between band members and their stage presence made a solid set from this promising group. They might have had the smallest crowd of the evening, but they put on a show like they were much higher up the bill. Their passion and showmanship didn’t go unnoticed by the Norwich crowd and it’s safe to say BRUTAI won over new fans tonight.

Next up were WEARING SCARS. Hailing from Northampton, this band featuring members of MUTINY WITHIN and SACRED MOTHER TONGUE brought the groove with plenty of heart. Frontman Chris Clancy sounded impeccable and along with his bandmates provided Norwich with material with a modern nu metal vibe. Having a PAPA ROACH air about them but none of the ego or bullshit surrounding it, WEARING SCARS were nothing but professional and it was clear they were happy to be here. Playing songs from their debut album A Thousand Words, the band played a solid set and sounded tight. By the end, the people of Norwich had been warmed up nicely.

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No one was expecting what was to be witnessed next. “What’s that??” people were asking about the mystery instrument on stage for ONI’s set. Turns out it was only a badass xylo-synth! Soon the band stormed onto the stage in a flail of hair and limbs and the xylo-synth player John DeAngelis’ pink balls flying about on his synth sticks. This is not a gimmick however, this is progressive metal and ONI delivered an absolutely spellbinding set. A truly captivating band, it’s almost impossible to tear your eyes away from them, especially frontman Jake Oni who can only be described as sassy. His ability to switch between brutal vocals and smooth clean singing is something to be admired and he nails it flawlessly while he commands the audience’s attention. The rest of the band also launch a visual and aural assault with their energetic stage presence and their technical playing. Unleashing songs from their debut album Ironshore, the promising Canadian band leave Norwich a little bewildered but utterly on their side.

By now there was a real buzz in the air as the time had finally come to welcome DEVIL YOU KNOW to the stage. Bassist Ryan Wombacher (ex-BLEEDING THROUGH) and guitarist Francesco Artusato (ex-ALL SHALL PERISH) stepped onto the stage, then Howard Jones jumped on stage just as the band kicked off with opener Consume the Damned. To say the band were greatly received is a gross understatement as the crowd lapped it all up and went wild. Some more so than others, judging by the fights breaking out in the pit, but all headlocks aside, every one was having a jolly old time. “I’ve missed youuuu” Jones told the crowd before launching into the ferocious Embracing the Torture. As the entire room sang along to 7 Years Alone, Jones looked chuffed to bits and couldn’t hide his joy and appreciation to the fans for their support in between songs. The humble frontman reminded fans just what a force of metal he still is by owning the stage, with his screams and cleans resonating around the venue. He certainly hasn’t lost it. The chemistry between the band was tight yet relaxed, with banter aplenty it was a fun time for all. “This one is for the ladies!” Jones announced before he crooned along to Crawl From The Dark, but it was Way We Die which really got the crowd going. Finale, Shut It Down made sure everyone in chilly Norwich left hot and sweaty. Tonight had been well worth the wait and seeing a band with such collective talent in an intimate venue, was something special indeed.

Weekly Roundup #14

The first hot picks of 2017

Welcome to the first weekly roundup of the year! Sitting comfortably? Headphones on? Let’s begin!

Band to watch: ALLUVIAL. What do solo-instrumentalist Keith Merrow and BLACK CROWN INITIATE’s Wes Hauch have in common? Well, together they are the instrumental metal outfit ALLUVIAL. But that’s not all. This week the band released their debut album The Deep Longing For Annihilation and it’s absolutely punishing. Imagine BLACK CROWN INITIATE, DECAPITATED and GOJIRA all rolled into one. This album is proof progressive metal does not necessarily need vocals to make it heavier. The ferocious riffs speak for themselves and with the unbelievable talent of the riff lords Merrow and Hauch, you know you’re going to be in safe hands. The album isn’t all riffs, riffs, riffs however, there are plenty of dark and atmospheric moments such as the tracks Mirelands and Occulsion. Album highlights include the crushing As The Crow Flies and Compound, the latter featuring all sorts of wonderful guitar screeches GOJIRA would be proud of. If your friends ever moan about you listening to metal whose lyrics they can’t understand, then introduce them to ALLUVIAL, there is now no excuse.

 

Video to watch: DISPERSE. Polish proggers DISPERSE have had quite an exciting start to 2017! This week saw the band release a video for new single Tether and announce they will be supporting PLINI on their European tour this year. Tether is the newest single taken from their forthcoming album Foreward due 24th February. A refreshing take on progressive music, DISPERSE have a released such a light and bright track it transports you to warmer times. It would be the perfect soundtrack to a Summer’s evening, with chilled out MINUS THE BEAR-esque vibes, but there is still so much more happening under the shimmering surface. With a poppier CYNIC feel, their progressiveness is what makes the song shine bright along with the laidback vocals of frontman and keyboardist Rafał Biernacki. A truly irresistible track, if this is a taster of the what the rest of the album will be like, then DISPERSE will definitely set to make 2017 their own.

 

In the stereo: SHOKRAN. A surprise discovery for Metalmance over the Christmas holiday, SHOKRAN are a Russian band who seamlessly mix deathcore and progressive metal together to make a sound truly exciting and memorable. This is even before we take the orchestral elements into account too. Their album Exodus is full of biblical narratives as well as middle eastern flourishes to really push the band ahead of the pack. An intelligent and expertly executed release, it is unbelievable the band have not yet caused a bigger stir in progressive metal circles. Exodus sees the introduction of new vocalist Andrew Ivashchenko who totally enhances the superb composition set by genius guitarist Dmitry Demyanenko. Album highlights include And Heavens Begin To Fall which features the  awesome female vocals from Lauren Babic (RED HANDED DENIAL) and the utterly compelling Living Arrows which demonstrates Ivashchenko’s impressive vocal talent. It is hard these days for modern bands to stand out but it is clear SHOKRAN have made their own niche in the metal scene. Exciting, dramatic and brutal, SHOKRAN are definitely a band to keep your eye on.

 

Band to rediscover: ZAO. Remember ZAO? They were a metalcore band but they always seemed so much more than that. Raw and brutal, ZAO were always on the more chaotic end of the metalcore spectrum along with CONVERGE and DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN. The band entered an unofficial hiatus before 2010 and many had expected no more new material from this group from West Virginia. However, in December 2016, the band released their eleventh album The Well Intentioned Virus and it has already been critically acclaimed by critics and fans alike. Returning with their utterly unforgiving strain of ferocious metalcore, ZAO are once again pummelling ears across the world. They haven’t yet got a new official video, so watch the classic below to reacquaint yourself with why you fell in love with them in the first place.

Earthside – A Dream In Static Video

A quick chat with Earthside’s Jamie van Dyck about their spellbinding new video.

Back in 2015 New Haven’s EARTHSIDE released their stunning debut album A Dream In Static and 2016 saw the band tour Europe and North America, sharing stages with the likes of LEPROUS, VOYAGER and VOLA. They have now kicked off 2017 with a spellbinding music video for the breath-taking track featuring none other than TESSERACT’s Daniel Tompkins. An emotionally compelling song such as this needs a strong visual accompaniment to do the song justice. Luckily, with the amazing filmmaking talent of Silent Flight Productions, EARTHSIDE have created such a video which is set to attract new fans for this ridiculously talented band. Guitarist Jamie van Dyck kindly let Metalmance pick his brains about the new video. You can read the interview after you give yourself a new year treat by watching A Dream In Static below!

 

 

Firstly, I just want to congratulate you on how visually powerful the video is. An emotionally strong song like A Dream In Static deserved an equally compelling video and you guys have achieved this. A Dream In Static has always seemed to be a fan favourite, has a video accompaniment for the song always been in mind?

Jamie: Thank you! Yes, we’ve always wanted to do a video for this song. Since the album’s release, we’d been lamenting not having had the proper opportunity to give this song its time in the spotlight, and we’re thrilled that we can now give A Dream In Static its due.

I’m sure it will be well received! My interpretation of the video is how unobtained dreams can haunt to affect the present, how personal battles show both the light and dark of the human psyche. Is the video concept along these lines?

Jamie: I think music videos are inherently somewhat of an abstract art form, given the lack of dialogue and how the plot cut-ins are interspersed with band performance shots. You’re thematically on with what we’re hoping to evoke. A lot of our A Dream In Static album deals with the internal struggle of having these lofty seemingly unattainable dreams and then a self-doubt that sets in. Our character confronts the manifestation of her self that is a shell of herself, a fear of what she may become. But when you let that fear consume you, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Speaking of music videos being an abstract art form, your previous video for Mob Mentality was very theatrical. There is a strong cinematic feel to your music, is composing for film something EARTHSIDE would like to venture into?

Jamie: Absolutely. We aren’t music journalists, but when pressed to editorialize ourselves, we describe our music as Cinematic. Composing for film/TV and for video games poses a unique challenge where the music serves to heighten the medium its accompanying. As a composer, I often find creative constraints to be inspiring rather than limiting, so I would really enjoy that opportunity assuming that I was collaborating with a filmmaker/game designer whose aesthetic and way of communicating meshed well with mine, and I think my bandmates would feel similarly. We feel that our debut album paints many emotions and aspects of the human experience, a breadth that I think is necessary to accompany something as dynamic as a full-length feature film.

Have you collaborated with Silent Flight Productions before? Or do you try and work with new people each time?

Jamie: This is our first time working with Silent Flight. Erez is a 21-year old rising film maker who’s made several prominent videos in our genre. He reached out to us many months ago about wanting to do a video, and over time, this opportunity evolved and came together to involve him as our collaborator. Over the next few years, he’ll be primarily shifting his focus to a feature film so I don’t know how available he’ll be to take on more music video projects. But perhaps one day he will be our foray into film scoring!

Thanks for your insight Jamie! Last question, what would you like EARTHSIDE to achieve in 2017?

Jamie: With this video as a jumping-off point to 2017, we hope that our music will reach more people and continue to move those who have already found us. We also want to cultivate more of our individual interests within music, with Frank doing more producing, me offering rock/metal theory tutorials and composition lessons over Skype, Ben more actively pursuing drumming as far as session work and Skype lessons, and Ryan streaming online more with his gaming.

As a collective, a successful 2017 will mean foremost finding that creative space and gaining that momentum where we’re on a hot streak where ideas are flowing and the excitement about the music that we’re making together is palpable. Those group creative rolls come and go so we just have to get at it, let ourselves have the time to find that groove, and then ride those waves as far as each one will take us. For me as a musician, the mystery of having no idea what we will compose and just having faith that it will pour out of us is at once exhilarating and anxiety-inducing, and I love it more than anything.

Happy 2017!

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If you want to read more what Metalmance had to say about the album A Dream In Static, then you can follow the link below.

Weekly Roundup #10 feat. EARTHSIDE

But if you’re more interested in learning about the story behind the actual song, then you can watch the video below when EARTHSIDE discusses A Dream In Static.