Periphery/ The Contortionist/ Destrage at The Forum, London - live review

US tech-metal magicians reunite with old friends

Cover art for Periphery/ The Contortionist/ Destrange live at The Forum, London

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It’s straight down to the nitty gritty with DESTRAGE [7]. The Italians’ creative spin on a battering ram of breakdowns includes a few esoteric curios, from quirky jazz to reggae, to whet the appetite of the prog-minded audience. “Make some fucking noise” says their singer, like he’s been transplanted to NYC, pitching Destrage perfectly between playful post-hardcore and angular experimentalism. the CONTORTIONIST [7] are a different beast. Sure, they derive from the same tech-metal lineage but this is a far darker affair. There’s no brawling mischief like the openers, instead Michael Lessard slopes around in the shadows singing earth-shattering melodies like a slow victory lap in the name of djent. Brooding atmospherics and juddering syncopation brewing in the dark light only add to the effect.

“London, you are rowdy!” remarks vocalist Spencer Sotelo. And he’s right, the audience are definitely in a party mood. For many, the emergence of PERIPHERY [8] a little over seven years ago signalled a new era in metal, and while the oft-maligned djent movement has taken a few blows, this gig defines the band’s evolution from bedroom whizzkids to credible forerunners in the ever-growing popularity of technical progressive metal. There’s no denying their nerdiness, but when they drop Marigold from their latest album – definitely one of the best songs they’ve ever written – the Forum goes insane, lapping up every ounce of its euphoric catchiness and melodrama while Spencer sticks out the mic to catch the crowd yelling out the chorus. The Bad Thing and Flatline trigger more explosions of fervour as Misha Mansoor, Mark Holcomb and Jake Bowen exchange jumping high-fives between seriously tricky guitar licks, missing none of their on-record brilliance before Psychosphere surprises us all with an appearance from Mikee Goodman. His cameo is brief but luckily there’s Lune to offer one final, emotional (yes, that’s djent with feeling) punch to a run of tight and fervent songs performed by six achingly talented musicians. British lesser-seen bassist Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood, who has taken time off from touring to focus on producing, is playing tonight and steps out to speak a few words. “This is one of the best shows I’ve played,” he says, and it’s no stretch to take him at his word.

Holly Wright

With over 10 years’ experience writing for Metal Hammer and Prog, Holly has reviewed and interviewed a wealth of progressively-inclined noise mongers from around the world. A fearless voyager to the far sides of metal Holly loves nothing more than to check out London’s gig scene, from power to folk and a lot in between. When she’s not rocking out Holly enjoys being a mum to her daughter Violet and working as a high-flying marketer in the Big Smoke.