21st April 2012, Review by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
It is apparent from when the lead first enters the amp that my self-fashioned earplugs aren’t going to do shit tonight. I’m pretty sure even the most luxurious toilet paper would disintegrate under the impact – perhaps material properties under extreme volumes should form the basis of new consumer tests.
Chapters’ (3.5/5) opening notes ring out heavy like Thor’s hammer going to town on the nearest china shop, and in quick succession the crowd grows from a handful to a good number like old people to a jumble sale. This crowd aren’t nearly as violent though.
The hefty song length of Chapters’ set means they don’t fit many in, but remember quality over quantity – think the opposite of Primark. In fact, it’s almost too good for a first support act with a healthy mix of melodic death metal and a sexy progressive groove that mutates throughout – helped along by some tasty five-stringed bass.
They’re not the only ones packing though – Xerath (3.5/5) aren’t looking to lose out in the ‘who’s is bigger’ contest with their own six-stringed beast in tow. An atmospheric opening sets the stage for Xerath’s symphonic groove, but tonight their fast-paced fury mows much of it down into a neck crushing pulp that may not help your plants grow, but is good for pulling a muscle or too. These guys sure know how to windmill with style, hair swirling with the glossy slow motion of an L’Oreal ad – not sure if a no-tears formula stretches to sweat in the eyes.
A slight technical hitch gives way to a supremely bouncy performance from all in Hang The Bastard (2.5/5), led by that over-exaggerated stage pacing favoured by some frontmen. On that note, with a swinging mic in the hands of frontman Chris Barling and cord around his neck you keep half-expecting an accident, much like the set up of the opening scenes of Casualty.
Fast and furious, but with extra heavy breakdowns in place of screeching cars, Hang The Bastard are a change of pace from the earlier technicality but at times feel as though they only have one gear, and it’s starting to smoke under the strain. There’s nothing supremely wrong with Hang The Bastard, there’s definitely some iron at their core, but as the shortest set of the night so far they don’t have long to make an impact on the crowd. On that basis you can’t help but feel Barling’s on-his-knees closing theatrics are premature as it’s clear that tonight this isn’t his stage to command.
Any lingering qualms of ownership are swept aside as Sylosis (4/5) hit the stage, taking a mere two songs to get a pit going – although considering it was started by one woman perhaps it was a matter of pride more than anything. Either way, I don’t know what Sylosis have for breakfast (perfect place for a Shreddies pun) but there’s a certain snap to their thrash-athon sound tonight as it pops out of the speakers. Thankfully crackle doesn’t make an appearance though.
Instead it’s just a short sharp intake of the heavy, the technical, and the not-just-in-there-to-sell-records melody that has become the band’s winning formula. By nailing these tracks to the wall live, Sylosis are giving newest release Edge Of The Earth the best kind of promotional boost that’ll see the merch stand busy at kicking out time, but ‘old one’ Conclusion Of An Age is also being shook out for an airing. Special notice has to be given to guitarist Alex Bailey who is soldiering on well despite breaking his wrist last year, with this one of his first shows back with the band. He’s certainly not letting the side down though as the guitars keep firing on all riff-filled cylinders.
The aforementioned Casualty-style drama finally makes its appearance as an enthusiastic crowd member misjudges a stage dive, which sees face meet floor in the most unpleasant way possible. Whilst Sylosis do the right thing and pull the plug as the blue-lights rush in, unfortunately the gathered energy never quite returns after this impromptu interlude, with the crowd opting to loiter over mosh. It’s also impossible to ignore the blatant avoidance the accident site itself like it’s a crime scene body outline. This deflated feel even seems to extend to the band themselves, as they leave the stage on a somewhat abrupt note, and it’s clear that an encore is so far off the radar that Norfolk is its kindred spirit.
The night may not have ended on a high note, but it certainly packed some heavy ones in on the way out – so much so that’s it’s almost a surprise not to have to wade through a sea of gravity-plagued quavers and crotchets on the way out. That said, they’d be a good souvenir to have because based on the fast rising profiles of all four of tonight’s acts places like Norwich won’t be on the tour books for much longer.