For young bands on the increasingly competitive heavy music circuit, every gig is a chance to showcase your particular musical strain over your contemporaries. Even then, your fellow bands on the bill are your comrades – after all, a good, complete line-up will resonate in a punter’s mind even after the beers have worn off.
By those standards, tonight is a somewhat mixed bag. There’s enthusiasm by the keg-load, and even if there’s not always precision in the delivery, boundless energy glosses over any mistakes. Comradeship, however, is in short supply. One of tonight’s acts finish their set and sit around watching videos of their own just-finished performance rather than watching the next.
Hieroglyph, who kick off the evening, are mesmerisingly slinky, akin to Lacuna Coil in creating beguiling textures against stiff, staccatoed riffs. Vocalist Valentina Reptile is the saccharine antidote to her course-tongued colleague Mark Howes, whose indiscriminate, savage belches ramp up the aggression.
Closer adherents to the djent formula, Clockwork display emotion in their post-hardcore lilt. As they explain, they’ve only had a week to prepare for this set, and it shows as Sam Machin’s clear vocals pitch wildly.
GlassEyes suffer no such issues. For a band that are yet to release their debut EP, their twisting, menacing acoustic melodies win over an audience who were expecting wall-to-wall djent. Coheed-like vocals cement their proggy allegiances, set against landscapes coloured by a love of Jeff Buckley.
The World We Used to Know has pushed Shattered Skies from mere contenders into the ranks of the fully-formed. Their cocktail of poptastic vocal lines and jarring riffs makes them sound like a band plucked from an earlier, brighter decade and injected with crunching malice. The grooves of the dizzying 15 Minutes might not incite the fervour of Attrition’s nostalgia-tinged chorus, but it’s still a blazing indicator of just how far this band have come in such a short space of time.
Frontman Sean Murphy possesses an impeccable vocal delivery, though some could construe his strutting performance as overconfident. His backline seem happy to stay out of the limelight, focusing on their delivery, which sounds tighter than ever before. Guitarist Ian Rockett remains one of the trailblazers of the high-gain, palm-muted movement: the barrage of incendiary riffs that flood out of As the Sea Divides’ opening gambit are dense and debilitating, while Saviours’ spasming riff is without a doubt one of the finer pieces of musicianship to have emerged from the post-Meshuggah scene.
The closing reprise of the much-loved Attrition and its endlessly hooky chorus leaves everyone hoarse: the perfect way to end a night like tonight.