Simon reports on a four-band bill of unsigned excellence
When it comes to gigs, us Londoners are spoiled rotten. With such a constant parade of established acts rolling through town, smaller shows are often neglected. Even for an active gig-goer like myself, shows like tonight – four unsigned bands, only one previously known to me – are a much rarer occurrence in my schedule than they were before I moved to the capital.
Kicking off proceedings are Octavius, a young London sextet. They ply a fairly weighty, groove-driven metal, with a sound bolstered by having no fewer than three guitarists in their line-up, as well as the now-obligatory backing track.
The rhythm section is rock-solid, and bass player Caspar Nelson-Smith is the stand-out of the whole band, both in terms of playing and performance – mixing some neat and slinky bass riffs with windmill headbanging.
The band overall is tight, and their set features a number of satisfyingly chunky breakdowns. However, the songs they have penned to date don’t seem to take advantage of their extended line-up. Too often, at least two of the guitarists seem to be playing exactly the same thing.
Whilst this may well be fine for the band as it stands, if they don’t start to fully utilise the palette of sounds they have available, they would have to question whether it is really worth trying to squeeze an extra cab and an extra body into a tour van.
But that decision certainly doesn’t have to be taken just yet. Its clearly early days for the band, and they’ve fashioned a credible starting point. Now, they just need to harness their potential and properly find their own voice. The results could be spectacular.
I’m outside smoking when Orchestrate The End start their set, and by the time I get back to the upstairs room, their bass player is riding around the floor on a friends shoulders.
It’s an energetic set, to be sure, with most of the band jumping off stage at some point or other – but this exuberance does seem to have a detrimental effect on the quality of the actual performance, so dropped notes and missed cues abound. Singer Dante Rashid has written himself some ambitious vocal lines, but can’t quite pull them off convincingly, and bass player Evan Daniel struggles to simultaneously play and provide backing vocals.
These guys are terrifyingly young, ramming this home by pointing out from the stage that their drummer is just fifteen – but whilst they and their fans/friends are enthusiastic, they still have quite a lot of work to do before they can really be taken seriously.
I had done precisely no homework prior to the show on any of the supports, and so Oxford quintet A Trust Unclean gave me a strong reminder of why taking a punt on an unfamiliar band can sometimes pay dividends by comprehensively blowing my socks off.
The band’s beefy, burly sound is built around a deathcore skeleton. Under normal circumstances, deathcore at best leaves me cold and at worst makes me laugh uncontrollably, but A Trust Unclean neatly sidestep my usual concerns by infusing their songs with a powerful groove.
Splenetic verses give way to slower, lip-curlingly chunky choruses and pulverising beatdowns that get the kids down the front leaping about, and the oldies like me at the back into some serious nodding.
The band are tight and there are clearly no weak links in the line-up. The tracks do blur into each other a bit, but when they are executed this well, that’s a secondary concern. Indeed, they managed to impress one fan so much that he flew in from the US to see this little show. That’s some serious dedication, so kudos to him.
Picking up a copy of their Fragmenting Reality EP, I’m surprised to see it was recorded back in 2011. Its probably time for a trip back to the studio for this lot.
Their set was a completely unexpected highlight, and I’ll definitely be keeping tabs on them in the future. Judging by the reaction on the room, I won’t be the only one.
I first saw Exist Immortal a couple of years ago, about halfway down an unfathomably crowded eight band bill. It was clear then that the band had some potential, and every time I’ve seen them since there’s been a marked improvement.
Tonight’s headlining set, possibly their biggest to date, is no exception, which is deeply pleasing. Their fairly relentless gigging up and down the country (and beyond) has moved their stagecraft forward noticeably, and with heads banging and hair flailing everywhere, they definitely look the part.
Vocalist Meyrick de la Fuente spends most of the show perched on a monitor, an elevated position from which to command the energetic fans in front of him into walls of death and circle pits. As well as looking the part, his voice is really coming into its own, injecting strong melodies into the sound that are helping to carve the band out from the teeming masses of tech-metal hopefuls.
The new songs aired tonight are by far the strongest the band have written, which bodes well for their upcoming album Darkness Of An Age, which is now largely in the can and should see the light of day before too long. Recently released single “Edge Of Infinity” gives us a tantalising glimpse of what is to come, cherry-picking elements from old school and new. Guitarists Tom Montgomery and Kurt Valencia trade excellent guitar solos, and David Billote’s tone allows his imaginative basslines to be clearly heard.
It’s all very impressive, and during the pseudo-encore (as the band said goodnight but didn’t actually leave the stage) of “Initiate“, I can physically feel the floor bouncing under my feet from the exertions of the pit. It seems Exist Immortal’s time is coming, they’ve clearly worked their socks off over the last year or so, and – if there is any justice in the world – should soon be reaping the fruits of their labours.
Post-script: one other little thing I noticed was that, throughout the night, members of all four bands could be seen enjoying each others’ sets and getting involved down the front. This is the way it should be done, so kudos to all.