Destroy Everything’s Now, Voyager play EP release show with labelmates Black Dogs and more
Completely oblivious to what any of the bands on the bill sounded like, but with a fine choice of venue in The Black Heart – a real Camden ‘local’ pub, full of metalheads and miscreants, just off Camden Town corner – the evening was always going to be undersold rather than over, but nevertheless it had promise. Two bands – both the headliner Now, Voyager, as well as Black Dogs – are on breakthrough label Destroy Everything, which is from the minds behind Basick Records, so you have to assume they know what they’re doing.
Kicking off the evening were Weathered Hands, a post-hardcore band hailing from Hereford in the Midlands. The five piece were just underway as I arrived, with the drummer and bassist encamped on stage, and the two guitarists and frontman John James Davies roaming the floor.
Although specifics weren’t always distinguishable, the Defeaterish nature of the music was pleasing. Davies was commendably into his performance; executing his lines with emotion above and beyond the call, although his refusal to face the crowd was somewhat off-putting. Make a connection, man!
Both guitarists put in a good shift too, and although there wasn’t a ‘wow’ factor, further investigation was merited, with their latest effort Of All The People That I’ve Left, Each One Has Died of Loneliness a tasty slice of the genre.
Brighton’s Fathoms played largely from the floor and gave a pleasingly energetic performance, with a neat line in synchronised bouncing. They delivered a fairly tight set of metalcore, with some Poison The Well-esque flourishes.
The stand-out performance came from drummer Lui, who underpins each track with solid, powerful and interesting beats and fills. Singer Max spent the set getting in the faces of the crowd, but didn’t make much eye contact, which felt odd when he’s only inches away.
The band peppered their set with some pretty meaty breakdowns, with some obligatory sub drops provided by a laptop backing track that didn’t seem to bring much to the party apart from muddying the sound somewhat.
All told, Fathoms have made a promising start, but they still have a bit more work to do in honing their sound and writing more memorable tracks.
Black Dogs are a bit of a revelation. I caught their set here as part of the Destroy Everything launch party back in April, but they didn’t really click with me then.
Whether it is an improvement in their performance, a better quality of sound or just that I was more prepared for their ferocious assault this time around, they stole the show as far as I am concerned.
They come across as being like Will Haven with a vitamin D deficiency, hailing as they do from Grimsby rather than Sacramento. Their sound is twisted, lurching and furious, but underpinned by a rock-solid groove that keeps heads nodding throughout.
Vocalist Gollo was a constant blur of angry energy, only limited by the maximum radius of the microphone lead, and the band were rizla-paper tight without the safety net of a click track.
Their debut album Grief should be seeing the light of day before the end of the year, and with songs like “Savages” and “She Bites” it promises to be bile-spitting and thrilling in equal measure.
It being Now, Voyager‘s night, there was a bit of extra set-up and stage decoration involved – including some specialist lighting set-ups. These actually proved to be a bit problematic, but more on that later.
With their debut EP Tell-Tale Hearts out a few days later (yesterday, in hindsight – through Destroy Everything), the Brussels-based foursome were clearly in the mood to impress, and gave an energetic performance to match their excitement. Diminutive guitarist Martin Dawagne regularly took to the floor in front of the stage; a blur of activity, cascading into the open space in front of the stage – space which was eventually filled as American frontman Nabil Sanaullah coaxed the initially reticent crowd forward.
The venue being the size it was, their sound was a bit muddied, which is a shame as it’s anthemic and frantic in equal measure; think Architects with touches of early Thrice.
A couple of pressure-sensitive light boxes were deployed in front of each guitarist (no bassist, mind), but it was hard to discern what they were for, as they were only triggered a couple of times, and not in tandem for effect as you might have expected.
Bright, elevated, crowd-facing lamps were deployed at the rear of the stage, and these actually spoiled the experience a little. Again, for the venue size they were over the top, and just served to blind everyone present with little other effect.
Otherwise, it was an accomplished performance from a band I’m very interested to hear more from.