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Crossover legends Senser play a show at The Cellar with young bloods The Spindle Sect and Collisions as support

The Cellar Southampton

Rap-Metal, Nu-Metal, Crossover, Hybrid….. whatever you want to call it, it is clearly on the rise again after ten years or so in the wilderness.  With bands like Hacktivist and The Algorithm leading the charge, and opening metalheads up again to the notion that music can be heavy and danceable, there are more bands smashing genres together again to see what happens, and more people paying attention to them.

So, on a somewhat sticky evening in a sweatbox in central Southampton, we find two of these up-and-coming bands playing in support of one of the true godfathers of the original crossover scene of the nineties.



First up are Brighton’s Collisions.  It’s only a couple of weeks since I last saw these guys play at Tech-Fest, but it’s good to see them play with a full PA again after the volume issues they experienced in Peterborough.

I’m really very keen on Collisions’ modern blend of metal and drum & bass. The band lash dirty great riffs to high-energy beats in tightly written songs, which are delivered in an energetic and engrossing performance.  A couple of new songs sit comfortably with the more established songs in the set, like “Push”, suggesting that there are still more good things to come from these guys.

I also noted at least a few punters turned up wearing Collisions T-shirts, so there is every chance this band will be moving up the bill on shows like this in the not too distant future.  I still have a half-transcribed Tech-Fest interview with them taunting me from my hard drive, so watch this space for more on Collisions in the near future.

The Spindle Sect

The Spindle Sect

Hot on their heels come The Spindle Sect, with a solid set of unabashed, no-nonsense rap-metal.  This international band’s sound reminds me of Shootyz Groove, Rage Against The Machine and Three Dollar Bill-era Limp Bizkit, together with the vibe of Cypress Hill and Funkdoobiest.  It’s not earth-shatteringly original, but it is well executed and a lot of fun.

The mix was so bass-heavy, I think my feet went numb – but that was probably the point.   The band kick out big, head-nodding grooves that serve as the perfect platform for their pair of MCs to spit out some particularly credible and distinctive rhymes, with personality and presence galore.

Some of their songs are just a little bit longer than they really need to be, so they would possibly benefit from writing a few shorter, punchier tracks, but they have all the tools they need at their disposal to become a true force to be reckoned with.



And finally, we have Senser.  To lay my cards on the table, their 1994 debut, Stacked Up, played an incalculably huge part in the political and musical awakenings of my teenage years.  Their fusion of socially aware rapping, Slayer-esque riffing and dance beats provided the soundtrack to an exciting period of exploration and experimentation in my life.  So, nearly 20 years on, I am delighted to still get the chance to see them play live every now and again.

Since reactivating the band in 2004 with the release of Schematic, the band have settled into a cycle that sees them release a new album every four or five years, accompanied with a spot of light touring and other occasional shows.  Tonight is the first night of a short UK run of shows in support of their recently released, crowd funded album To The Capsules.

The band is still almost entirely comprised of original members, with only vocalist Kerstin Haigh absent.  Her role is ably covered by guest vocalist Imma, who convincingly hits the high notes, despite sometimes struggling to hear herself over a PA which is, at times, punishingly loud.

Their set includes a number of new tracks from To The Capsules, including single “Witch Village”,  some choice cuts from previous album How To Do Battle, like the genuinely phenomenal “Resistance Now”, and “2,3 Clear”.

However, the hardcore gaggle of 90’s refugees at the front of the stage – myself included – reserve their biggest cheers and most energetic dancing for the Stacked Up classics.  The band doesn’t disappoint us, with old favourites “States Of Mind”, “Age of Panic”, and “Switch” all making an appearance.  As the band end their set with “Eject“, us thirty-somethings try to summon up the energy to carry on dancing as we used to as teenagers.  I definitely paid for it the next day.  And most of the day after.  I’m nowhere near as fit and supple as I used to be.

Watching Senser play is, for me, a mixture of nostalgia for times past and enthusiasm for the newer material.  I can only hope that a new generation turned on to crossover music by the likes of Hacktivist explore the heritage of the genre, and find one of the instigators of the scene still very much alive and kicking.

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