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Black Futures headline the perfect crossover lineup

Black Futures Seething Akira Collisions Clockwork

Every once in a while, someone puts a bill together which feels tailor made for your tastes. Tonight is one such night for me. With crossover merchants Black Futures and Seething Akira on a short tour together, the bill for the London date has been bolstered with the addition of perennial favourites of mine, Collisions. Happy days.

But before we get to those three bands, opening up the show are Clockwork, a powerfully young instrumental quartet from Reading.

Some bands are instrumental through choice, and others through necessity. Clockwork fall into the latter category, as they are still looking for the right singer to join the fold – but respect is certainly due to them for getting out and about in the meantime, rather than sitting about in a rehearsal space.

The band’s modern, progressive metal sound is certainly promising, with hints of Monuments as well as a touch of Devin Townsend‘s bombast. It is clear, however, that the songs they are writing really do need a vocal line to properly finish them off. The cake is pretty much there, just waiting to be iced.

There is perhaps a slightly too heavy reliance on tapping, some of the sub drops from the obligatory backing track are somewhat over-zealous and some of the tracks feel a little long. However, most of these niggles are likely to be a product of their current personnel situation, and can mostly be tidied up when they complete their line-up. All told, a promising start.

It is entirely possible that I’ve written about more Collisions live performances than any other band, so it is getting a little difficult to find new things to say – but we will see what we can do.

Regular readers will know that I find the Collisions hybrid of metal riffs, drum & bass riffs and huge choruses particularly infectious, and tonight is no exception. Even the drive up from the south coast and negotiating central London’s traffic doesn’t dampen their enthusiasm, or the obvious enjoyment they derive from being on stage.

Drummer Will is on particularly fine form, helped along by the fact he doesn’t need people holding the drum kit in place as he plays, as he did at Mammothfest.

The new songs, due to see the light of day on their debut album in the (hopefully) not too distant future, really stand out and continue to fill me with optimism for the band’s progression. However, with more and more new material in the set, their long-standing cover of Bjork‘s “Army of Me” is starting to show its age, so it might be time for the song to be retired, and maybe replaced with another curveball cover instead.

This is my third time watching Seething Akira, but for various technical reasons, the first with them really firing on all cylinders and making full use of the notably better than average PA in this rather under-used venue.

The dual frontman tag team of Kit and Charlie dominate proceedings, taking turns to leave the stage and get in the faces of the front row. It’s not for nothing that the word ‘aggro’ appears in the title of their debut EP. Charlie appears onstage resplendent in a vibrant pink t-shirt bearing the Collisions logo, but Kit rips it clean down the middle during the very first song of the set. The net result is of a particularly camp waistcoat, which is a source of much amusement on and off stage. He may have been fixed up, but is not looking quite as sharp as their Dizzee Rascal cover might suggest.

The pair are flanked by guitarists Harvey and Jay. Whilst their contributions are more readily discernible than they were in a Tech Fest cattle shed, especially on the newer tracks, it is still sometimes difficult to tell where the guitars end and the electronics begin. The pair, both relatively recent additions to the band, also don’t appear to be as comfortable onstage as their vocalist bandmates. If the two of them can build their stagecraft to match Kit and Charlie, the result would clearly be an explosive live spectacle.

Whilst a new song aired this evening is properly brawny, the absence of a bass player is still keenly felt. There’s not quite enough low-end coming out of the magic box of electronica at the moment to really justify this decision, and the resulting sound is perhaps a little top-heavy. Either way, as it stands Seething Akira in full flight are a great deal of fun, and with a little tweak here and there they have the capability to produce something really special.

Black Futures bring their own soundman, and the noise kicked out of the PA as they launch into their set is noticeably thicker and louder.

Right from the get-go, the band throw everything they have at their performance. Drummer Vince spends a considerable proportion of the set smashing the living hell out of his kit whilst standing up, and Paul looks more like he is wringing his riffs out of his guitar’s neck. Frontman Stu cuts an imposing figure, and at one point drags his exquisite stand-up bass out to the far reaches of the venue, herding stragglers at the back of the room towards the stage.

Black Futures’ hybrid sound is almost perfectly encapsulated in their choice of covers, a run-through of The Prodigy‘s “Poison” is shortly followed by their outstanding interpretation of Slipknot‘s “Duality“. Their hybrid of dark electronica, punk attitude and socially conscious lyrical themes are reminiscent of the activist bands of the nineties, but with a thoroughly third millennium twist.

I’ve said in the past, under their previous identity as Subsource, that Black Futures are pretty much the only band that can still get me involved in a mosh pit. That doesn’t quite happen tonight, but largely because I am old and it is a Wednesday. Nevertheless, Stu does manage to coax a wall of death out of the unfortunately sparse crowd, and most of those in attendance end the night up and dancing in front of the stage.

At least one new song is aired, and if their upcoming album can capture in the recording even a fraction of the dangerous energy the band display onstage, it will be a damn near essential listen.

That Black Futures play to a relatively small audience like they are performing a sold out show is testament to their dedication and showmanship. Black Futures know how to bring the party, and give it a thoroughly intoxicating soundtrack.