A first gig of the year after a couple of abortive attempts were blocked by train strikes and I finally get to take in The Subhumans in the annual Punk festival in The100 Club – the scene of a number of good gigs I’ve enjoyed before. A long trip beckoned, but a hopefully worthwhile one nonetheless to finally see a band I’ve quite liked for a number of years now, complete with You and Knock Off in support duty. Continue reading
Those who have ever witnessed Godflesh performing live in the past, could not have been more delighted after the announcement of upcoming UK tour in August. The release of well-received A World Lit Only by Fire, one of the most anticipated returns in alternative music, whetted fans appetites even further.
When I entered Sound Control in Manchester, I am greeted with a pleasing view of crowd, consisting of metal heads, industrial and core fans, shoulder to shoulder gathered in great anticipation.
Clouds of vapour embrace the equipment on stage, and here they are – two men who influenced bands like Faith No More or Korn, but have forever remained in the music underground.
And it is Godflesh at their best – G.C. Green operates his bass with industrial tool precision, and the legend himself, Justin Broadrick, shreds his guitar in uncompromising manner, filling the room with unmistakable vicious and razor-sharp riffs.
A laptop connected to stage equipment plays ruthless beats that can only means one – a hell of a performance. Around 200 other people rhythmically headbang in approval.
First half of the gig contains purely of new material. And the performance is even better than on the album! The greatest difference make Justin’s vocals. He apologises for throat infection that cause him problems to perform clean vocal parts, but the audience does not mind at all – vocals are much more harsh and brutal than on studio recordings. A delightful and unexpected occurrence.
After performing six songs from the latest album, fans become more animated after hearing familiar notes of ‘Christbait Rising’, ‘Streetcleaner’ or ‘Crush My Soul’.
The gig finishes with encore, long-demanded ‘Like Rats’, on which the audience responds with wild pogo dance. To wrap up Godlfesh great performance, Justin Broadrick give improvised display of guitar cacophony. Combining with creative stage lighting this turns into a spectacular finale.
Mr. Broadrick nods and discretely exits the stage. A monster in average Joe skin.
But satisfied fans, slowly leaving the club, are left with fantastic memories of one of the most non-average performances in Manchester this year.
Godflesh are back, and they are better that ever.
Godflesh is too cool for Facebook
WORDS: ARMEN HACZMERIAN
PHOTOS: KIRSTEN HEL
On the 30th of September the Extase in Tilburg was host to the pre-release party of Knight Area’s new album Hyperdrive, with opening act The Silent Wedding.
The Silent Wedding is a band from Athens, Greece, who play symphonic powermetal. Their lyrics are inspired by films, games and literature: ‘I Am You,’ for example, tells the story of the Phantom of the Opera from the phantom’s perspective, and ‘The Return (to Ithaca)’ is about The Odyssey. The band members are each very skilled, and drummer Renos, who occasionally resembles the Muppet Animal in his enthusiastic playing style sets a solid base for the rest of the band to build on. Vocalist Marios has a powerful clear voice whith a lot of vibrato, which lends his singing a classical air. Despite the rather small crowd, The Silent Wedding performed a very solid set.
Knight Area play a mixture of neo- and retro-prog that could also be characterised as sing-along-prog, due to its very catchy melodies and vocals. The bass features very prominently in the music, and Peter Vink plays every lick as if it were a bass solo. His style is very funky, and the bass often plays licks while the guitar and synths play chords, which gives and air of vivacity to the music. The guitar and synths take turns playing solos, and the quadruple stacked synths often tastefully cover the changes in meter.
Mark Smit provides good, clear vocals that are sweet and soft with the occasional hard rock edge that reminds me of Doogie White of Cornerstone. He has a lot of stage presence, as well as an awesome bodysuit that matches the album’s artwork, and plays additional keyboards in the ballad ‘Songs from the Past.’ The drumming is excellent and very varied.
One of the songs on the new album, ‘Bubble,’ was previously released on the Between Two Steps EP (2013). Some other songs that made a very good impression were ‘Avenue of Broken Dreams’ which is about 60s ideals; ‘Stepping Out’ which was written by their youngest band member, Mark Boogert, and features some excellent guitar work. They kept a good pace in the show, with generally not much wait in between the songs. They build their own party on stage and infect the audience with their enthusiasm. This was the first time that Knight Area played their new album live in its entirety. Hyperdrive was released on the 14th of October, and the band has another show planned for the 7th of November in Helmond.
A Bloodstock rehearsal with a difference
When Stormzone announced a pre-Bloodstock Open Air show on Saturday 26thJuly at the Diamond Rock Club, Ahoghill, Northern Ireland fans could have been forgiven for expecting a 30-45 minutes run through.
Instead they had a real treat as the band played 20+ song in a two-hour set, all based on fan requests – this wasn’t so much of a warm-up as a treat for an audience.
Opening for Stormzone were the youthful Donum Dei, who have been making remarkable strides in harnessing their music recently, with the track ‘Justice Fails’ a highlight of a tremendous opening slot.
Stormzone have become festival favourites across Europe in recent years, their classic metal vibe hitting the spot everytime with well-judged melodies combined with searing solos and serious riffage.
Front man, Harv is the perfect leader of the troupe, hitting high notes and stalking the stage. His easy banter when not screaming out the songs is perfect for this home turf show, as he jokes with the audience and passes out ‘goodie’ bags to those who managed to have their requests played.
With a Sonisphere slot now behind them this year the band could have looked on this as a relaxed way to ease themselves into the groove for Bloodstock. Instead they delivered a full speed assault with the twin guitars of Steve Moore and Davey Shields trading solos and merging with perfect riffs.
With the title track of the recent Three Kings album one of the highlights, when the band sing Where We Belong, it is clear that this band belongs on the live circuit.
‘The Pass Loning’ and ‘Cuchulian’ were an opportunity for Davy Bates to shine, and Graham McNulty shrugging off technical issues with his rig to lock down the bass.
Bates was a constant beaming presence behind the kit, standing on top of his drum stool at one point cajoling all in the room to clap along,
What was evident from the performance was the range of songs on display from epics such as ‘The Legend Carries On’ and ‘Death Dealers’ trough to the melodic ‘Crying In The Rain’ and ‘Tugging on Your Heartstrings’.
If this was a performance for a local audience it had at times the feel that the band were playing for A&R men, not for a crowd that ranged from toddlers to (almost) pensioners.
With such a positive response to their Sonispehere set, what is sure that there will be a Storm(zone) front blowing away all in its path with a contemporary hard rockin’ stunner of a set. And, I can confidently pen those words weeks ahead of their appearance, such is the quality of Stormzone.
Anticipation is palpable inside the magnificent art deco interior of the Islington Assembly hall. The grandeur and opulence of this listed building seem fitting for the inaugural performance of material from the controversial new album Shelter from Alcest, which has seen Neige and his colleagues dispense the metallic aspects of the band’s sound and embracing a collage of dreamy indie rock.
Prior to the unveiling of the new material, enter Bristol quintet The Fauns who enter the fray with a sound centred around the breathy vocals of Alison Garner. While the majority of their set is, a delicate and enchanting experience there remains the odd moment of mediocre indie pop. New album Lights has seen them grow from their humble beginnings. Its lush electronica meshed with atmospheric chords to provide a seductive backdrop of haunting ambience.
Hexvessel’s magical, majestic prog folk is truly awesome. Drifting from the atmospheric epic of ‘Woods To Conjure’ into the doom folk dirge of ‘No Holier Temple’, they are truly unstoppable. Vocalist Matt “Kvolst” McNerney has a truly astounding voice and the combination of shimmering guitars and elegant trumpet allows the smoky atmospheric of this Anglo Finnish outfit to whisk you out into an enchanted wilderness. Ending with a seductive rendition of Yoko Ono’s‘Woman Of Salem’ the venue has truly been bewitched by their pagan magic.
For many following such an otherworldly display would be née on impossible. Yet in the case of Stéphane “Neige” Paut and company, putting on a clinic of ethereal beauty is all in a day’s work. New opus “Shelter” may have stripped away any residual metal influences Alcest previously had, yet tonight’s performance is delivered with utter conviction and an air of confidence only gaining from sticking wholeheartedly to your creative muse. Opening with new single ‘Opale’, Neige and company seem immediately comfortable and clearly unconcerned with the audience response. As it stands the band, choose to strike a delicate balance between their new direction and the older material.
Paut sports a beaming smile throughout much of the performance, yet no one could accuse him of turning in a half-hearted performance. When ‘Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles’ rears its head Neige delivers the harsh vocal parts with gusto and vigour despite his apparent tiredness for composing them and ‘Autre Temps’ is greeted like a long lost lover with the hall taking up the soaring chorus vocal.
A perfectly balanced mix of material sees Neige and company seduce and soothe with the odd flurry of blasts and harsh textures of old thrown in. Bravely soldiering forward Alcest elect to conclude the evening with the spinetingly ‘Délivrance’ Credit must certainly go to the open-minded nature of tonight’s audience but also to the bravery and integrity of the headliner for following their hearts while remembering how their fans supported them.
L’eveil des muses
Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles
Beings of Light
Sur l’océan couleur de fer
Percées de lumière
Souvenirs d’un autre monde
Words: Ross Baker
Photos: Ian Cashman