In what was originally a trendy student nightclub in the heart of Bristol city centre, SWX has recently been transformed into a multi-event venue, which luckily for our purposes, includes hosting a spattering of metal gigs.
In what was the only sold out show of SikTh’s year-closing tour, the secondary room of the venue starts to fill up pretty early on. Opening act Press To Meco make full use of the growing audience and inject some light-hearted alternative rock into the surroundings. In between a bit of banter, dizzying fretwork and some pummelling riffs, the three-piece continue to show just why there are so revered on the touring circuit. The rapturous reception that greets a new song, along with the reaction to some outstanding three-way harmonies, shows that the promise of a sophomore record and accompanying tour in 2018 will be gratefully received.
Next band Devil Sold His Soul have had an interesting few years. In releasing the Belong ╪ Betray EP at the end of 2014, the shift to a slightly more accessible sound with new vocalist Paul Green (The Arusha Accord) was met with critical acclaim. However, with original vocalist Ed Gibbs back in the fold alongside Green and a ten-year anniversary tour of debut record A Fragile Hope hitting all the right nerves, the band are looking to release their first studio record in six years in 2018 into a musical direction that no-one can really predict.
Tonight showed just how good the band are. A much different proposition than the other bands on the bill, the progressive, post-metal-esque atmospheric sound from the band’s early days plays fully to what was now an almost full venue. Playing a range of material throughout their catalogue (including two tracks off the aforementioned EP), bone-crushing riffs were combined with harrowingly harsh vocals throughout the set. The interplay between Gibbs and Green seems to be perfectly balanced, with both vocalists interchanging between delivering sultry clean vocals and inciting the crowd with vicious head banging. The more melodic and ambient moments hold so many interesting segues between the heavier passages, it’s near impossible to not be mesmerised for the duration of their set.
Headliners SikTh are on a roll. Their first full length record for some eleven years, The Future In Whose Eyes? shows a more accessible side to the band without compromising their technical dexterity. It’s met byan adoring fan base; the band looked set to kick things off from the very first note, with vocalists Mikee Goodman and Joe Rosser bounding onto centre stage and throwing themselves head first into the opening track. Guitarists Graham Pinney and Dan Weller stand at either sides of the stage and are a pair of machines for the whole set. The amount of technical wizardry displayed on their fretworks is at times frightening, and they appeared to have lost none of their tightness or ability since the mid-noughties.
Goodman is his charismatic self, displaying an unerring ease in commanding the crowd before him – whether it be inciting circle pits or jumping up and down in tandem. With Rosser only having been in the band for around 18 months (he’s also in Pinney’s side band Aliases), you can tell that he’s still incredibly pumped to be on the same stage as the rest of the band. Boasting an effortlessly melodic voice, which really fits with the new material, his interplay with Goodman is incredible; as if the pair have been singing together for decades.
Playing a range of material primarily from 2006 record Death Of A Dead Day and the aforementioned new album, SikTh show why they are back on the metal scene with a performance that showed no evidence of any time away. Fingers crossed they’ll keep the momentum going throughout 2018 and continue to write music as good as that delivered in 2017.