Nine varied acts for the princely sum of £7? Big plus points. On the downside, the draught beer runs out around 8pm (this event was booked in advance, right?) and a tardy sound engineer and squeezed changeover times conspire to create serious scheduling difficulties as the evening rolls on.
London-based power trio Hung On Horns command a huge sound, a mix of fairly ferocious yet carefully crafted metal, sweeping themes and melodic interludes, with vocalist/bassist Sean Cooper’s enviable range and heft particularly impressing. Closing with mini-epic Into The Sun, they’re added to the ‘keep an eye on’ list.
Scarlett Magna are an eclectic and intriguing amalgam of Crimson vibes, early Sabbath, 70s Italian prog and a touch of psychedelia. However, late running curtails the enjoyment of the soundscape established by new tracks Tulum and Intitulada1 – they’ve come and gone in under 20 minutes.
Toska join many instrumental bands populating the prog and metal world. Shades of 90s heavy grunge and alt metal sit alongside more contemporary influences. Scoring high on the physicality and gurning scales, the band bring a relentless onslaught of ideas and themes. The band focus on last year’s release Ode To The Author, with more twists and turns than a Curly Wurly. Although the almost stream-of-consciousness approach can be a little bewildering, it goes down extremely well.
L’Anima feature Breed 77 guitarist Pedro Caparros Lopez and ex-Yardbirds vocalist Andy Mitchell. Metal riffing and Spanish guitar provide points of reference for Breed 77 fans, but L’Anima appear to have ambitions of a more involved and multi-layered nature. Opener Point Of No Return juxtaposes funky grooves with thick slabs of proto-metal and lovely acoustic guitar lines, and Path To Sirius boasts an infectious riff, odd-time verses, and a spacey Spanish guitar laden breakdown.
Visually, guitarist Lopez and maraca-wielding singer Mitchell provide action and energy. As the set progresses,
with the acapella ending of Gema, the muscular balladry of My Dying Cell and the angular groove, memorable hooks and backing vocals of Hold Out, it’s clear that L’Anima aren’t short on ideas and ability. What undermines this is the rather ropey sound and the fact that things get a tad ragged while the material absolutely demands that everyone is as tight as a duck’s arse. The Sound Of Waves closes proceedings, garnering one of the most enthusiastic responses of the evening – L’Anima have potential aplenty and are creating some beguiling and thoughtful rock music; more live work will help them up iron out the creases and undoubtedly bring more fans onboard.