Deadly Circus Fire at The Underworld in London live review

AWOOGA and Schemata Theory join Deadly Circus Fire in Camden

A crowd watching a prog gig
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

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A tangible urgency emanates from Schemata Theory as they launch into Our Only Home, the first of a set blending thrash, classic and nu-metal with a punk edge. With two guitarists, two vocalists and a drummer, backing tracks take up the live bass and keyboard slack. Myles Dyer’s screamo/hardcore vocals with the cleaner voice of Luke Wright is hit and miss, yet an interesting proposition.

With a new album imminent, this is a welcome London sojourn for Sheffield-based AWOOGA. As with Schemata Theory, the muddy sound doesn’t do their power trio, doom metal-tinged space rock many favours. They come across as a murkier, stoner Rush at times, such as in the brooding and transportive Tide. Singer/bassist Tam Ali acts as both focal point and onstage powerhouse, giving a lot of bass-per-buck. Relying more on guitar sounds and rhythm work than solos, AWOOGA create hypnotic vibes and immersive walls of sound.

From the first few bars of House Of Plagues, Deadly Circus Fire stamp their authority on the venue with hobnail boots – a brief moment of calm aside, it’s an intense, dramatic demonstration of their brand of dirty prog metal. As the set progresses with Leviathan and the multifaceted Her Epitaph, singer Adam Grant is a revelation; a tireless showman with a versatile voice, he screams, growls, croons and soars, striking an imposing figure in full flight from the makeshift platform they’ve installed upfront.

After the devastating riffage of Devil’s Opera, the acoustic guitar based In The Kingdom Of Flies provides a breather, before we are catapulted into one of the highlights of the evening, this being the epic The King And The Bishop, where drummer Paul Igoe navigates his way through time signature and tempo changes galore. Rise Again comes across as a brutal Kashmir and by the time closer Nothing rolls around the audience are in a state of elevated excitement, coalescing into a prog metal scream-along choir.

Deadly Circus Fire aren’t the fluffiest or most refined band at the crowded metal end of the prog continuum, yet they still draw on numerous styles and influences, in the process managing to synthesise a strong adrenaline fuelled identity. Heady, powerful stuff indeed.

Gary Mackenzie

Gary has contributed reviews and news features for Prog Magazine for over a decade now. A fan of prog and heavy rock since childhood, his main areas of interest are classic and symphonic prog, prog-metal and modern acts bringing in fresh influences to the genre. He has a professional background in youth and community work, he teaches drum kit in schools and is a working musician. Gary was the drummer in semi-legendary NWOBHM band Praying Mantis for a couple of years and has been a member of indie-prog-pop-art-rock combo The Mighty Handful for more than twenty years. He loves cats and skiing, and has a Blue Peter badge.