Dreamshade + The Royal

Boston Music Room, London. 26 March 2017.

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There was quite a lot of hype surrounding tonight. DREAMSHADE had finally made it to the UK and this was their first ever London show. DREAMSHADE fans are a fiercely loyal bunch and this small community had found its way to Boston Music Room to give the Swiss metalcore band the warm welcome they deserved.

Getting to the venue just as THE ROYAL kicked into their set, these rising stars of Dutch metalcore were pulling out all the stops, making it impossible to tear your eyes away to get to the bar. Frontman Sem Pisarahu commanded the crowd’s attention with his ferocious delivery and infectious energy. The rest of the band were also on fine form, jumping in time with a hardcore punk attitude. Fella from DREAMSHADE jumped on stage for guest vocals which really got the room  moving. Winning over new fans tonight with their absolutely tight delivery, THE ROYAL will no doubt cause a bigger stir in the scene. Be sure to check them out at Tech Fest in July!

Keeping the energy up by opening with the storming It’s Over, DREAMSHADE fed off their fan’s vibrancy (pun intended) and in return put on a performance worthy of a venue triple its size. Mostly playing tracks from last year’s Vibrant, the modest crowd shouted back every word, clearly pleasing the band as there were smiles all round for the remainder of the night. Playing old gems like Photographs and Consumed Future really sent the crowd into a frenzy, but London was in for one heck of a treat. Before erupting into Wide Awake, former vocalist Iko joined the band on stage, sending old fans into meltdown. DREAMSHADE were always teasing something special for London, but no one could have predicted jumping along to both Iko and current vocalist Kevin Calì sharing vocals. Newer tunes still went down well with Dreamers Don’t Sleep and Autumn Leaves having the loudest crowd sing-alongs. The band sounded just as good live as they do on record, oozing talent and professionalism yet still bringing the fun by joining the crowd and rocking out with us. Tonight was one of those nights when everyone looked super chuffed after the set. Every person in the room was in high spirits and the band stuck around to chat and take photos, clearly appreciating their fans, some of whom had travelled many miles to catch their first London show. It had been worth it, a very special night indeed.

PIG + Mortiis + Seraph Sin

Epic Studios, Norwich. 17 March 2017.

Epic Studios, an old television studio, seemed to be the perfect setting for an evening of industrial rock and metal. Wires, plugs and projections all contributed to the visual dynamic for the show. There wasn’t a big turn out tonight unfortunately, but if there was ever a gig which would make the goths of Norwich dance, then this would be it.

Getting the industrial gears oiled up for the evening were SERAPH SIN. Considering the room was still quite sparse, the Glaswegians put on a show worthy of a venue double the size. Flitting across many genres, they started with a blackened industrial sound before enveloping the room with 80s electronic vibes. Clad in New Rocks and black face paint, frontman Gabriel Lennox commanded attention with his ferocious stage presence, but it was drummer Roddy McCahon who stole the show with his tight beats and PRODIGY-esque rhythm. An impressive performance from the band, ones to watch for sure.

 

Now the venue had filled up a little more, there was now a real buzz in the room for the first of the headline acts, Norway’s finest, MORTIIS. Last year’s The Great Deceiver stunned fans and critics alike and now tonight they’re ready to unleash their industrial metal upon this small city. Guitarist and drummer Levi Gawron and Tim Van Horn enter the stafe hushing the cheering crowd to silence before legendary frontman Havard Ellefsen jumped on the platform. From then on in, the room descended into a dark and gritty groove. Projections of film clips and album artwork gave the performance an electronic intensity. Dancing barefoot and with his trademark make-up, Ellefsen proved what a visually captivating frontman he is, a man decades into the game and still able to rock harder than most, signifies someone very special indeed. Classic track Decadent and Desperate sounded a hundred times bigger live than on record, proving the quality of the songs and true showmanship show MORTIIS are still on top form.

 

Alternating headline slots on this Swine and Punishment tour, tonight’s headliners were the funky and punky PIG. Entering the stage with pig masks, the unsuspecting punter was probably anticipating an absolutely filthy industrial ruckus. But lo and behold PIG mastermind and flamboyant frontman Raymond Watts graces the stage in a faux fur coat and a captain’s hat before the band erupt into a swirling, sensual mass of funky, industrial groove. With an overwhelmingly 80s sound, the band stay fresh with modern effects and an irresistible flair. Watts is impossible to tear your eyes away from, a superb frontman, his vocals were on point but his moves were even sharper. Everyone was in good spirits, dancing and mesmerised by the band’s superb showmanship. A truly captivating band with a stadium sound, it was impressive viewing. A stellar night overall, the city’s goths left the venue smiling and still with a spring in their step.

NOAD – Nature of a Doppelganger EP

Self-release. Release date: 27th January 2017.

Solo instrumental djent EPs are often very much hit or miss, but in the case of Mike Vermeire’s NOAD, it’s a hit. Featuring enough elements to stay interesting yet be able to maintain a sound unique to the musician is always a challenge yet Vermeire has managed to achieve this with his 8 string guitar for Nature of a Doppelganger. Also incorporating ambient metal and death metal, the EP is an enjoyable slab of trusty ol’ djent, but it is in no way tech-metal-by-numbers.

Nature of a Doppelganger begins with a heavy ambient track called Intro which soon blends into Collapse; a punchy tech track full of djent mannerisms and rumbling bass. It soon becomes noticeable how full the mix is which is impressive for a solo production, some one man band recordings are sparse on layers of sound, but Vermeire has produced material rich in substance and textures – a bit like an indulgent djent dessert.

The atmospheric start to Deceit soon breaks away to a punchy, chuggy riff. A few GOJIRA-like squeals here and there help make this track a heavy tech metal track which pounds through the headphones. Deceit is probably the song most likely to induce some head nodding as it never lets up. It is one constant riff-athon. At first the drums do not sound entirely convincing but halfway through the song they’re close to stealing the show.

A killer riff kicks in with Forlorn before it erupts into another splendid array of ferocious heavy progressiveness. There is an opportunity here to go full riffy djent but it is a relief in a way that Vermeire doesn’t as it would have been too predictable and not the most original. Instead he provides us with interesting effects and an ambience not too dissimilar to SHOKRAN.

With Bardo we hear NOAD’s more ambient side, a treat of a song with harmonics galore and a Fragile-era NIN vibe happening with the main guitar hook. Although it is unlike the other tracks on the EP it does not sound out of place. It is a beautiful and well composed piece and is actually the most memorable track on Nature of a Doppelganger. If NOAD end up pursuing the ambient route of metal, it certainly wouldn’t be the worst idea.

Bardo almost acts as a palette cleanser before the punishing closer Antumbra. By far the heaviest track on the EP, the middle of the song absolutely obliterates the senses and keeps on delivering until the very end. An impressive release, there are enough components to Nature of a Doppelganger to make you want to return to the EP again and again.

Weekly Roundup #19

Melodic death, melodic tech, metalcore, oh heck!

Band to watch: THE OBLIVION. Everyday there seems to be a new tech/djent or metalcore band popping up, but what about trusty old melodic death metal bands? Well, THE OBLIVION now have it covered. Describing themselves as ‘modern melodic death’ they sound just like that, rather than ‘SOILWORK-by-numbers’. The band harness a classic melodic death metal feel but with a fresh crunch to proceedings. Earlier in the week THE OBLIVION released a video for their debut single New Messiah and hopefully it is a good taste of what to expect when the band release their first record later in the year. If you think vocalist Attila Erdélyi sounds familiar, then you may have heard his warblings when he was the vocalist in Germany’s CYPECORE. With THE OBLIVION however, things sound a bit crisper, more straight to the point rather than bogged down with aesthetic and heaviness. THE OBLIVION achieve heaviness in other ways, mainly with the intensity of their delivery. Currently only a two-piece with session musicians, once the band establish themselves with a full line-up then they could indeed send the competition into oblivion. 

Video to watch: UNEVEN STRUCTURE. These French pregressive metallers are due to release second album La Partition, through Long Branch Records on April 21st. This week the band released the video for new track Incube and it is a spectacular and epic visual accompaniment for the band’s blissfully melodic metal. A striking and memorable video, UNEVEN STRUCTURE have certainly whetted people’s appetites for their new material. With a sci-fine aesthetic and eye-catching glow in the dark make-up, the band have achieved a video which compliments their stellar songwriting, which is on par with TESSERACT and TEXTURES. Having recently played Complexity Fest and recently announced for Tech Fest in July, if UNEVEN STRUCTURE are not already on your progressive metal radar, then they should be soon.  

In the stereo: GHOST IRIS. Featured in the last Weekly Roundup, it’s hard to resist not to write about GHOST IRIS again because their latest album Blind World is just too darn good! Opening with the blistering Gods of Neglect, the album smashes its way in with the band’s glorious brand of tech metal before it brings the killer vocal hooks in Save Yourself. Even with the obvious djent elements, GHOST IRIS are not a predictable or average band. Each song has a slightly different feel, making it a rewarding listen you can return to again and again (hence why it is still in our stereo!) The Flower of Life and Time Will Tell demonstrate the band’s ability to flawlessly mix melody with heaviness, they are not afraid to use a catchy chorus along with crushing riffs and ferocious vocals. First single Pinnacle has a chaotic and melodic vibe in the same vein as FALL OF TROY which makes the track and exciting listen, never knowing if you’ll be greeted with soaring vocals or raw screams. An album which keeps you on your toes yet constantly brings the fun, Blind World is sure to launch GHOST IRIS into the tech metal stratosphere. 

Band to rediscover: THE AGONY SCENE. Yeah we’re still on a noughties metalcore binge since the EIGHTEEN VISIONS announcement. This week we’ve been rediscovering the AGONY SCENE and their career defining album The Darkest Red. Back in time of black and red hair, black shirts and black make-up, THE AGONY SCENE sure did look the part but bloody hell they didn’t half sound the part too. Released in 2005, it is clear when listening to The Darkest Red again just how many metalcore bands both then and now were influenced by it. Overshadowed by contemporaries AS I LAY DYING and BLEEDING THROUGH, the band have always seemed one of metalcore’s most underrated, yet one of the most talented. Lead single, Prey is a shining example of the raw verse and clean chorus, but at the time it was still coming to the fore of metal by the likes of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and the like. Scapegoat still features one of the most punishing breakdowns of the genre, rivalled only by Tower of Snakes by EIGHTEEN VISIONS. After breaking up in 2008, the band hinted at the end of last year they were recording a new full length and will tour in support of the record. Long live metalcore!