10th October 2015
Review by Toria Morgan
‘Unexpected’ is the word that comes to mind when reviewing this gig. The gig was listed as being held at The Exchange in Bristol; a venue that can hold a couple of hundred, a venue more in keeping with the status held by the headlining band Psycroptic, however, there was some sort of mix up and the gig ended up being held at The Gryphon in Bristol. A venue that can hold maybe thirty to forty people at a very, very big push.
The venue is more or less the size of a large living room. I imagine it is awesome when full to capacity, the place is such a tight squeeze it would not take many to fill it up. I get the impression it is the ideal place to shoot a grungy, angsty house party music video; maybe not the ideal place to hold a metal gig, though it proves a popular venue for the genre regardless and I hear the word ‘intimate’ being thrown around a great deal. The lighting was dreadful and for the life of me I could not get a good picture of any of the bands due to them all being lit from behind by a single dull yellow rope light and no lighting whatsoever directly on artists.
Luckily for the fans, unlucky for the bands, the ticket sales left a little to be desired and the evening quickly turned into a more ‘in your face’ gig as those attending were taking up six feet of floor space maximum, lining the walls while the bands took the rest of the floor space. They received a turn-out of about twenty people, probably due to the venue change and the fact that Psycroptic had recently played in Bristol.
One thing I will say, despite the tiny venue and small turn out, the fans and the bands were more than enthusiastic and ready to make the best of a bad situation. None more so than Tasmanian metallers Psycroptic, who absolutely blew the lid off the place regardless.
A Night In The Abyss were the first band to take the floor. The band comprises of Josh Hillier on vocals, Jack Higgs on guitar, Chris Homer also on guitar, Reuben Bescoby on bass and Adam Lewis on drums. They fall into the Blackened Deathcore genre and hail from Brighton. The band did rather well, playing to a small crowd and being the first up puts on a lot of pressure and I admired their confidence. Being able to perform on the same level as the audience and within an elbows reach of a crowd takes guts and these guys had it in spades. For this I commend them!
Their songs were catchy, lots of change ups within each song, they really keep people interested and I quickly began to see the benefit of the tiny venue. It was like having a band do a private show for a select few united by the love of music so despite my initial apprehension, I began to enjoy. There was an excellent presence from the vocalist, he seemed to lose himself and really ‘get the job done’ with regards to delivering a performance in a teeny tiny room. Also I have to mention the drummer was rather good at his job, driving the songs into the chests of everyone in the room. They ended their set with a song from their current album Theophagy called ‘Divination’ which was well received.
Next up were a band called Belial. Belial is a band made up of vocalist Jamie Harrison, guitarist Dan Carter, guitarist George Christie, Bassist Jake Mundy and drummer Adam Pedder. These guys slot nicely into the simple genre: Metal. The Swindon based band brought in a few more people than the last. Their performance was tight and well structured. The band add all kinds of frills to their songs including moody backing tracks, samples and sub drops here and there that in my opinion, worked very well even in the small venue. I could imagine it would have a great impact on a bigger stage.
The band generated good crowd reaction and movement and helped propel the night forward, making room for the third band of the evening: Kryophere. Kryophere are a six piece band from Cardiff. The line up is a little different than the norm, boasting two vocalists, Adam E and Lewis B. The rest of the band is made up of guitarists Joe T and Tommy, along with bassist Bunny and Felix on drums.
The band brought a great energy to the room and I liked the mix of vocal styles brought to the table. Their performance was tight and you could tell these guys poured their heart and soul into making music and nailing a performance, regardless of venue size and turn out. They encountered some minor technical difficulties which were fixed promptly and didn’t take away from their performance at all in my opinion. The classic ‘if you fall, make it part of the dance’ philosophy seemed to have been adopted as I wouldn’t have known anything was wrong. One thing I will remark on is the excellent enthusiasm and talent from the drummer. He looked right at home behind his drum kit and a giant infectious smile let us all know he was having fun and enjoying the set.
Scarred were next to take to the floor and pulled in a few more people to the room. I had interviewed these guys prior to the gig and found them to be a very interesting bunch so I was more than excited to see them live. Thankfully they delivered and I enjoyed their sound greatly. They produce the kind of heavy music you can move your hips to as well as your head. This band includes Laurent Kessel on drums, Jeff Jonas on bass, Diogo Bastos on guitar and backing vocals, Bertrand Pinna also on guitar and Sacha Breuer producing the mighty vocals. The band also includes Vincent Wilquin on live guitar amongst its members.
I found these guys to be full of charisma and thoroughly entertaining. They hail from Luxembourg and formed in 2003, nestling comfortably in the genre of Thrash/Death Metal. These are another bunch of guys that ooze passion for what they do. The first mosh pit of the night broke out for these guys in the tiny space as they powered the energy in the room with driving beats and catchy tunes mixed with fantastic gravelly vocals. Their Pantera influences were apparent and I would recommend them completely to any good metal fan. I found them to be super talented and knowledgeable individuals and seemed to be a nice bunch of guys to boot.
Pscyroptic finally took to the floor space. The headlining act is made up of Jason Peppiatt on vocals, Cameron Grant on bass, Joe Haley on guitar and Dave Haley on drums, these guys travelled all the way from Tasmania for this tour. These guys also had charisma and talent by the lorry load. A bare chested Jason Peppiatt took to the floor. He had the typical care free attitude that only the Tasmanians, New Zealanders and Austalians can pull off likably, perhaps it is a mixture of the accent and year round exposure to the sun that makes people from this side of the world so effortlessly cool and funny. This was brought to light when Peppiatt said something along the lines of, ‘In all our years of gigging, we have never played such a small venue, but f*** it. We’re up for having some fun with it if you are.’ And fun was indeed what they delivered. I would say by far it was the most fun I’d had at a gig in ever.
Peppiatt approached audience members, grabbing them in a headlock and letting them scream down the mic. One lucky bystander included Bloodshot Dawn’s front man Josh McMorran who treated us to a line or two of pitch perfect screaming to the delight of the rest of us standing in the vicinity. These guys really used the intimate venue to their advantage. The vocalist leapt from the bar, he peered over the top floor railing to the bar goers below mid song, the bassist disappeared all together at one point but could still be heard keeping in time with the song, various band members and audience members crowd surfed and generally caused a mini riot in a small room while guitarist Joe Hayley blasted us all with notes from the fanned frets of his widely admired guitar.
The shenanigans added to the enjoyment, these guys played phenomenally well and provided some of the best crowd interaction I have ever seen. They had bags of personality in their performance and would have been worth watching even if you didn’t know who they were. Their tunes were catchy and heavy and they do their Metal genre proud as they turn the room into a meat grinder of crashing bodies and frenzied movement. Energy levels ran high and Psycroptic left Bristol, the last leg of their tour, wanting more.
Though the night looked bleak at the beginning, it certainly went off with a bang. The Gryphon is a popular music venue in Bristol, as a new comer to the venue I was surprised at how well it went down. Though it was small in size the energy levels from all involved were fantastic and well worth a watch. The last stop of the tour ended memorably, I’m sure for both the bands and the fans alike.