7th October 2011
Review by James Meakin
Photography by Jolie Swannack
The venue Islington academy was the setting for Metal Blade Records and Nuclear Blast to flex their muscles and show why they are two of the most exciting record labels in music. Sylosis, with their fiery brand of modern day tech thrash, bone grindingly weighty Malefice, Kinetic Anglo/Welsh/Scottish outfit Anterior and up and coming Londonites Chapters.
A stunning line up showcasing what the future holds for British metal.
As the only unsigned band on the bill Chapters had a tall order placed in front of them. Chapters only had twenty minutes to show the slowly growing Friday night Islington crowd what they were made of.
The set started with an explosion of speed and entertainment, Chapters progressive metal sound fuses Isis and Mastodon’s deep frenetic styling’s with dreamlike woven guitar solos while at the same time just producing a sound that was delightfully subversive and challenging.
With Atomic weight they flew through their first two songs at break neck speed, the spiralling fingers of Angus Neyra producing some particularly notable lead work. The band barely had enough time to catch their breath before they drove head on into ‘Imperial Skies’ which, for want of a better word, is a masterpiece. Front man Joseph Nelly works the crowd into frenzy as he simultaneously puts in a terrific vocal performance but also a technical and driving bass shift.
The final song of their four song set sees Mate Bodor give his fingers the work out the audience wanted to hear, flailing sweep picking leaves jaws on the ground and the ever growing crowd with sore necks heading for the merch tables. [4/5]
By the time Anterior take the stage the venue is positively heaving. Luck has not been on the side of Anterior; suffering without management, vocalist Luke Davis being diagnosed with carpel tunnel and almost half a decade between releases means these five gents from around the UK are positively simmering with venom.
Their live sound is devastating, their new songs are spectacular. ‘Blood in the Throne Room’ tears the venue in to spiralling mosh pits. The crater that opens in the centre of the room when meteor Anterior kick through this song presses people against the walls and has people spilling over the bar. The dual axe wielding maniacs appear to have some sort of extra sensory perception or the ability to speak telepathically to each other.
The notoriously complicated solos and dual lead parts are executed with laser point accuracy and the live sound emanating from the guitar of Leon Kemp had diamond like clarity. The solos are most definitely woven into the identity of Anterior; Steven Nixon is a masterful guitar player with bags of individual style and is fantastic to watch. Separately Kemp and Nixon are fantastic but it is in the dual harmonies and lead sections they really set the stage alight.
You can tell drummer James Cook and Bassist James Britton are fired up for tonight’s show, bounding around the stage and smashing the devil from the drum skins and bass strings. The best thing about watching the rhythm section storm through songs like ‘Tyranny’ is just how much they feed from the throbbing, toothless masses charging around at floor level, they feed off it and it gives the rhythm section the drive to deliver a destructive performance.
One must not feel too sorry for vocalist Luke Davis after being diagnosed with carpel tunnel and unable to play guitar in his band. What this unfortunate turn of events did lead to is the discovery that Davis is a born showman and terrific stand alone vocalist, fully commanding stage presence and leader of the band inciting circle pits and truly carving the name Anterior firmly into the future of British Metal. [5/5]
It can be argued that tonight’s show was a dual headline, two bands who’s meteoric rise to power have certainly been linked are Reading’s finest Malefice and Sylosis. From humble Reading beginnings to festival main stages these two bands share a certain amount of togetherness. Malefice are a terrific band and their new album ‘Awaken the Tides’ is most definitely their most promising offering to date.
Their sound straddles traditional thrash sensibilities with colossal breakdowns, guttural vocals and technical, almost djent like chug. Tonight’s show ignites the crowd as expected right from the off. What is most identifiable with the Malefice show is how much of a corner has been turned with the new album; the old songs stutter and slow the momentum of the set while songs such as the new album title track ‘Awaken the Tides’ level the venue.
By the time Malefice take the stage the Jaegermeister has been circling through the crowds and the chance of even seeing the stage for any late comers is slim. Dale Butler is an outstanding front man at the top of his trade, a magnetic performance from a man of threatening stature spews bile in his growls and shouts.
The first song and one of the most impressive tracks on the album is ‘Delirium’ is executed with perfection by Butler. However, despite a terrific vocal performance one statement let him down stating that being in a UK metal band is the ‘hardest job in the world’.
I am sure bomb technicians and paediatricians could have something to say about that. This made the band almost seem arrogant and took something away from their set. The guitar work during ‘Delirium’ harks back to a definite Dimebag influenced sound from Ben Symonds and Alex Vuskans with sophomore drummer Chris Allen-Whyte’s playing being extremely note worthy. 2012 will be a massive year for Malefice, ‘Awaken the Tides’ is one of the albums of the year which will soon have festival booking agents calling them up for main stage duty. [3/5]
Sylosis walk onto the Islington Academy stage with fire in their eyes. A near sold out venue and a chance to play to nearly a thousand diehard fans ignited a look of pure gratitude in the eyes of Josh Middleton and company as they walk into the lion’s den. Opening with the majestic ‘Precession’ sets the tone for tonight’s proceedings.
The song has great ebb and flow with outstanding lead work from Middleton who simultaneously knocks his vocal performance out of the park. The band effortlessly manipulates the audience into churning circle pits and from the barrier to the back wall no head is left bangless.
The band weaves old and new material together effortlessly and strikes a fantastic balance with the extremely strong songs from ‘Edge of The Earth’ and the now classic 2008 offering ‘Conclusion of an Age’.
The band close with two tracks from the new album as the encore; first up is ‘Empyreal’ which gives Alex Bailey a chance to sweat out some exemplary guitar work while Middleton carves through the riffs. By this point the venue is running on fumes as sweat drips from the low ceilings and the gig reached its crescendo.
Sylosis close with ‘A Serpents Tongue’ which is definitely their most progressive song to date, it moves the band forward and exemplifies the Sylosis sound; rich intertwined lead work from Middleton and near perfect riff construction from Carl Parnell and Rob Callard underpinning one of the heaviest songs in the Sylosis arsenal.
Due to this songs sheer speed and depth the audience respond in kind to once more charging into the battlefield in the centre of the room. At times the show felt somewhat like the Josh Middleton show but the chemistry between the band is completely identifiable. The vigour, passion and obvious attention to detail make this band very exciting to watch. [4/5]
As sweat drenched metal heads from all over the UK filter from the venue the bands remain behind merch tables and smoking outside with the rest of the great unwashed. This is a fantastic time for UK metal and the fact that these bands have been working so hard over the last few years shows hard work and pure honest and technical music will be rewarded is indicated by not only the sold out venue but the fact that these people on stage are no different to the people charging around in the pit, a certain spirit of ‘We are all in this together’ is in the air as speaking to band members post gig feels more like speaking to an old friend.
Common ground between everyone at the Islington academy was evident and that is why we spend our hard earned money on gigs like this.
Sylosis headline set: Procession/Sands Of Time/The Blackened Skyline/Teras/Kingdom Of Solitude/Reflections Through Fire/Eclipsed/Stained Humanity/Altered States of Consciousness/Empyreal/A Serpents Tongue.