PHILM, live in London

Support: Hawk Eyes, Earls Of Mars, Palm Reader

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Dave Lombardo's new outift PHILM made their UK debut last night at the Underworld in Camden, London. Could it live up to the hype? Well this is what we learned...

It’s about time more people started taking notice of Palm Reader

Having long established themselves as one of the best hardcore bands in the country, tonight is no different from what we’ve come to know and love from Palm Reader. Having the unenviable task of opening a gig on a Sunday evening when most people are wrapped up in a duvet trying to overcome the hangover from the previous night’s antics, tucking into a roast dinner, or watching The Antiques Roadshow, they still batter those who did make the effort with a relentless onslaught, full of energy and aggression. With the new material from their forthcoming second album providing some serious highlights of the set, maybe more people will finally start waking up to how good this band is.

Sometimes a bit of eccentricity is exactly what’s needed on a sleepy Sunday

Up next on a line-up so mismatched it seems like it was put together by pulling names out of a hat, is Earls Of Mars. Their unique take on prog-metal is bizarre and enigmatic. It’s all driven by frontman Harry Armstrong, sporting medieval facial hair and exhibiting the sort of levels of mental that would make you move away from him on the bus. This all adds to his charm though, and as he wildly bashes at his keyboard they prove to be a lot of fun. It goes down a right treat with the crowd, as the cheers grow throughout the set to the levels of adulation only usually heard when the ice cream man pulls up outside a Weight Watchers club.

Tonight isn’t Hawk Eyes’ night

Despite possessing the riff equivalent of an all you can eat buffet, and sticksman Steve Wilson putting in an absolute star turn, Hawk Eyes ultimately fall short tonight. It’s easy to imagine this normally being the soundtrack to spilt pints and swinging elbows aplenty, however that’s certainly not the case here. Perhaps their impact is dampened by following a visceral Palm Reader and a bonkers Earls Of Mars, or perhaps it’s just down to that pesky, ominous, impending Monday morning dread that hangs thick in the air. Either way they ultimately fail to connect with those gathered in the Underworld this evening.

There’s no mistaking who the star of PHILM is

If it wasn’t obvious already, tonight is all about Dave Lombardo – with his drum kit set up front and centre stage. In fairness it would be somewhat daft to have one of the founding members of Slayer in your band and just stick him at the back. The first glimpses of the man himself, even though he is just setting up his drums, provokes an array of videos and photos from a mass of smartphones. The man’s performance itself is every bit the master class you’d expect, his arms a total blur as he bashes the living hell out of his poor drum kit.

Lombardo’s status is something of a double-edged sword

Being the drummer of one of the most iconic metal bands in the world is always going to be what most people will remember you for. This leads to an evening of people standing still, basking in Lombardo’s presence and repeatedly whipping out those pesky aforementioned phones. While this is somewhat understandable, it takes a lot away from PHILM’s performance. While it would be a pretty absurd statement to imply that they could top the legacy he forged as a part of Slayer, PHILM are a decent band in their own right. They may not be perfect, with frontman Gerry Nestler’s voice sounding a little ropey at times, however they’re every bit as fast and heavy as you’d expect a band that features the man who played drums on Raining Blood to sound, yet they also have a snarling punk edge to their music. It results in plenty of potentially big headbanging moments, it’s just a shame most of the crowd choose to ignore this and keep their head stationary while taking pictures instead.