With Betraying the Martyrs, Vildhjarta, Structures and Volumes,
Friday 4th May 2012
Review by James Price
Photography by Jo Blackened
It was an early start here tonight at the Underworld (5.30pm) But there was good reason for that,we had 5 bands to squeeze in, no easy feat when the venue turns into a nightclub halfway through the night!
Despite some early technical issues relating to the sound, the doors opened pretty promptly and the eager fans rushed in to fill the venue. The main floor was filled to capacity as were all the balcony’s, the level of excitement was high amongst this very young crowd, ready to hear the best of the current crop of modern Whatever ‘core’!
The First Band onto the small stage were Volumes.
This young progressive groove metal band from Los Angeles may have had the lowest billing tonight but judging from the crowds reactions they may have as well been headliners.
These guys had 5 members and they are obviously a well oiled touring machine. With 2 singers (1 in a splendid bobble hat) really took command of the audience from the start whilst the remaining 3 musicians held the fort providing the fat meaty riffs and rhythm sections for these two guys to lay their vocals across.
From the first song the crowd were going mad! Beer was thrown, mosh pits were formed and the stage was dived from. I knew from seeing this it was going to be a fun night!
The mood of a crowd can either enhance or ruin a gig, and these guys and gals were happy!
Sound wise the tech guys seemed to have sorted out the earlier problems as everything was sounding superb, crisp and loud, and great clarity, all separate facets of the band could be heard.
These guys played a very modern sort of metal but thankfully there were no clean vocals here, the melody came instead from lovely guitar work, whilst the heaviness remained.
It wasn’t just the crowd that were happy the band were really enjoying this as well, as they couldn’t hide their joy, witnessing the crowd singing along to every word.
On the final song, the singer asked the crowd to stage dive as much as possible and they stepped up to the mark brilliantly, people queuing up on the sides of the stage happy to jump into the sweaty mass of bodies, even Mr Bobble hat himself even had a go.
At the end of the short set, they remarked that it was their best ever show, an easy thing to say, but looking at the smiles all around you really believe them. [4/5]
A quick break and change of equipment and Band two hit the stage; Structures a five piece metal/progressive/hardcore band hailing from Toronto, Ontario.
This band were extremely young with members ages ranging from 19-20 and I think that age combined with tough competition in terms of who they were playing with tonight took its toll.
On paper and record pretty similar to what Volumes were offering (although heavier, I would say verging on Deathcore as opposed to Volumes metalcore) but their nerves and lack of banter with the crowd made for a rather tame performance. I mean don’t get me wrong, they sounded superb, musically and vocals wise, but in terms of an exciting show they were lacking that certain ingredient: Fun!
By their 4th song they got the crowd behind them a bit more up upping the pace a bit and we were even treated to a few stage dives and the crowd moshed! But I feel it was too little to late for the crowd to fully warm to them. Overall a solid but workman-like performance. Come on guys you were the youngest here, liven up a bit! [3/5]
And now for something a bit different!
From metal/deathcore to a nice bit of progressive djent courtesy of Sweden’s Vildhjarta.
This lot are currently riding a huge wave of popularity in the underground scene and that showed in the faces of this excited crowd. The pace changed and the style, but it was welcomed wholeheartedly by the crowd. With 6 members all dressed in their now famous uniform of black THALL T-shirts, the little stage was well and truly stuffed and the sound coming from the stage was epic.
Like Meshuggah on steroids, extremely low tuned guitars churning out slow mechanical sounding guitar grooves that put the crowd in a trance. This isn’t the sort of music that you stage dive to or really mosh, but that doesn’t take away from its immense heaviosity or power. This was intense, the entire crowd transfixed and headbanging to the hypnotic groove as one.
Despite my criticisms of structures and their stage presence here the lack of interaction actually worked, as the music has such a strong atmosphere and otherworldly quality that you don’t really want someone to start chatting every 5 minutes, it would ruin the mood the music so brilliantly created. The crowd and band were loving it though, all looking very happy. Playing to perfection and sounding even better than on record, this new band played a stunner of a gig, and has an amazing future as the new leaders of the up and coming djent scene. [4.5/5]
That was a hell of a performance to follow but luckily the next band were different in style, to avoid comparison and in their own way just as impressive. Betraying The Martyrs are a 6 piece Metal/Hardcore band from Paris, France and they put on one hell of a show!
By this stage of the night the venue was hotter than Satan’s arsehole but the crowd and band were both up for this in a big way. Musically they remind me of early metalcore heroes Bleeding Through.
A heavy brutal band but enhancing their sound with keyboards, this combined with the large line up including again two singers meant movement and stage dives were kind of limited so instead the action was in the crowd with numerous circle pits being formed, I counted 6!
Strangely whilst the band were probably the most accessible musically of the night featuring not only stirring melodic keyboards but also clean vocals courtesy of the second singer (and keyboard player) they were probably also the heaviest, savage metalcore guitars and a powerful set of pipes from new (and English) Singer Aaron Matts; This guy was born to be a singer, tall, slim, tattoos, Eminem vest and a rather fetching tache!
You can tell he will be the figure of lust for many a young female metal fan for years to come!
This performance just highlights how important live shows are, because on record this band are simply repeating what has been played so often over the last few years, but hearing this stuff live is a different story all together, a massive wall of sound came off that stage and had everyone (including this jaded old scribe) banging their heads and smiling from ear to ear .A wonderful show! [4.5/5]
Well to be honest I think if that had been the end of the show everyone would of been more than happy but no, Final act and Headliners Veil Of Maya were here to close the show, and they did it in style, although suffering slightly following two performances as excellent as what we had just witnessed.
The crowd were fully up for it and a casual count of t-shirts would suggest this was the band most were here to see and this Illinois Deathcore band put on a great show. Following the last two bands the stage looked pretty bare, with just four members and no keyboards we were back to basics, well if you can call savage modern Deathcore basic!
Of course the advantage of this was that the stage divers were back in business, and the crowd and the band seemed happy with this, everyone in great spirits for the finale. The guitarist even took the time to have a erm… ‘Herbal’ cigarette, passed to him from the balcony.
This was a no frills performance really with minimal interaction but the band gave it their all and played a great mix of all their material, Of course songs from new album ‘Eclipse’ made up the lions share of the set but the crowd already knew every word and breakdown to it. Veil of Maya are the at the top of the pack currently in the deathcore scene and judging from this performance it is easy to see why.
Overall I would say a great end to a well run, enjoyable, hot and exciting night of modern metal. The future looks pretty good to me. [4/5]