Kylesa @ O2 Academy Islington, London

With Circle Takes The Square/KEN Mode
23rd February 2012

The long awaited return to the shores of the UK for Kylesa with support from the notoriously hard to pin down Circle Takes The Square and Canadian noise merchants KEN Mode thrown in for good measure make for a show with levels of intensity the O2 Academy Islington rarely sees.

Kill Everyone Now (KEN) Mode open the show with simple white lights casting gigantic shadows throughout the venue. KEN Mode have been plugging away on the circuit since 1998 and it is a wonder why they are not knocking on the stage door of the major music festivals.

Their hardcore/sludge/post hardcore/metal hybrid is outstanding to behold. Current line up consisting of founding members and brothers Jesse and Shane Matthewson and Andrew LaCour is as strong as a three piece can be. The sound emanating from the stage covers many different parts of the world of heavy guitar music. Drive Like Jehu original pre haircut screamo as well as the more noisier Daughters passages are woven together within their sound.

Tracks from their 2011 masterpiece ‘Venerable’ show their experience and musical prowess. Songs like ‘Obeying the Iron Will..’ are mystifying. How can three people create such a mind numbing sound, the juggernaut of sound is just spectacular. KEN Mode are a fantastic opening band that should be playing much larger venues. 4/5

Circle Takes The Square released ‘As The Roots Undo’ in 2004 then a seven year gap was on the cards for fans before last year’s ‘Decompositions Vol.1’ blew all expectations away. The fact that this band so rarely tour and so rarely release material makes tonight’s performance incredibly special. The band plays a decent mixture of old and new songs. Their experimental prog screamocore is mesmerising.

A plethora of tangled lead parts and deafening vocal wailing make the music impossible to ignore. ‘As The Roots Undo’ is a modern classic and tracks such as ‘Crowquill’ is performed with such venom and welcomed with fists in the air from the Islington crowd. The crowd shrieks ‘Rejoice Rejoice!’ with the band as a perfect example of band and audience becoming one is brought to light. The show is more or less a dual headline with hundreds in attendance screaming out for more Circle Takes The Square. 4/5

Modern metal is set to move in one of two directions. The prevalence of tech metal djent is hard to ignore; industrial regimented and surgically precise music pushing the boundaries of what is possible is definitely a direction things seem to be heading in. The other side is rough, raw and dark. A failing economy means people have less money to spend and this is pushing people away from paying through the nose for festivals and arena seats. People will logically gravitate to smaller, more intimate surroundings for their metal fix.

Kylesa create sludgy chaos in Islington, Norma Jean meets Mastodon meets Achilles sounds come together and feel like a sledgehammer to the temple. The sheer earth shattering weight of their noise is extremely special. The band is particularly tight but not bordering on boring predictability. ‘Said and Done’ is a battering ram aimed straight at the pit. The guitar sound that floods the venue from Laura Pleasants orange amplifier is perfect through ‘Forsaken’.

The show feels like it should be taking place in rusted out post apocalyptic oil tanker, massive and violent. The extended drum jam before the classic ‘Scapegoat’ shows what can be done with such a small venue; vibrating every ticketholder to the very core. The set closes with the epic ‘Where The Horizon Unfolds’. You can keep your arenas and your soulless prog, this is progressive, this is heavy, this is raw, original and wild. Kylesa have everything you could want from a live band. 4/5