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.
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.