This past week I went from only vaguely aware of The Elijah, the ambient post-hardcore from Oswestry, UK, to watching them perform their debut album I Loved I Hated I Destroyed I Created to a packed Underworld – possibly Camden’s most notable metal venue. That’s a) a pretty quick turnaround and b) pretty damn impressive for a band with one album under their belt.
What made the night extra special was that The Elijah had enlisted the support of the Niche London String Quartet to aid them, adding the live string arrangements from the album into the live experience. This sort of thing often works out very well, and it was this that particularly piqued my interest in the show in the first place.
Arriving approximately half-way through support act Hello Mexico‘s set (having unfortunately missed Black Shapes), I was pleased to find a wide variety of audience members assembled: both male and female, young and old. Hello Mexico were certainly something different, to match this diversity. Sounding like a mix of Eaststrikewest and Sigur Rós, the band’s post-rocky sound was of the variety that could stand on its own – but vocalist Myles Pereira adds a beautiful facet, with catchy vocal melodies multiplying the enjoyment.
From knowing nothing about Hello Mexico prior to Friday night, I’ve now racked up a considerable amount of plays of their free self-titled EP, which is available for the price of your e-mail address here. That should tell you the quality of this young London band; catchy, with an air of something special that I hope will see them explode in their respective scene.
With no small amount of set-up – considering the nine people on stage – The Elijah took to the stage with gusto. I don’t know if it was the cool vent fan under which I stood, or the cold cider in my hand, but I got a little chill down my spine when the opening ambience of “In Misery” grew into the room.
The live sound of this band is excellent. The guitar tone pays homage to This Will Destroy You‘sYoung Mountain, and clean vocalist/guitarist Michael is incredibly talented, belting out his lines expertly in tandem with harsh vocalist Dan. They fill a niche held only as well by the likes of Devil Sold His Soul, their Small Town Records compatriots - that big, expansive, ambient sound with a distinct harsh edge.
I Loved I Hated I Destroyed I Created is pretty epic anyway, but the addition of the Niche London String Quartet increased those earlier chills profusely. Strings, whilst not anywhere near a metal norm, are incredibly evocative, and one of the reasons I have a deep affection for post-rock – a genre with which The Elijah are closely related. It really was a stroke of ingenuity to bring the four-piece on board, and made for a memorable show in this, the tail end of the year.
Below is a live recording of “I Created“, and a quick chat I had with the band regarding the show and their imminent touring plans.
The show had some pretty hefty London-based ‘competition’ from the likes of Opeth, Deaf Havana, Madball and a few others – how did you feel the turn-out at the Underworld was for you?
The turnout was incredible. We were just a few shy of selling the place out, we were only really aware of the Deaf Havana show being on that night, but hearing there were so many others just makes the turnout for our own show seem even better!
What compelled you to put together a show like this?
We always wanted to do the one show where we played our album in full. It’s nothing new for bands to do this, so we wanted to take things one step further and really put on a show that people would remember. Playing with a quartet made sense because there are obviously a lot of strings on our album, so because this was such a special show it seemed the best time to finally have real strings live.
What did your preparation consist of?
Months of hard work went into this show: Sean had to make all the sheet music for the quartet. There was a lot of back and forth between us and the quartet, making sure everything was right. We were working with our label and press team to get competitions going for the show. We were working with a media team to create visuals for the whole show as well. We also spent a lot of time working on new merchandise and making items that would be exclusive to the show. It was all a way of giving fans the best experience they could, and then a way of saying “thank you” to those people who did come as well.
How did you come across/decide upon the Niche London String Quartet?
When we had the initial idea we sent out a few emails to different groups. At that point we had no idea what sort of response we would get, and if it would even be affordable for us. Niche were the ones who showed the most interest and had the most enthusiasm for doing something new so we took things from there.
The rest of the line-up on the night was pretty eclectic (and classy!). Did you guys have a hand in putting it together?
We didn’t pick the bands ourselves; Liam, the promoter of the show, chose them. We really like both of those bands though and were happy for them to be a part of it all. Diverse line ups definitely make for more interesting shows!
You’re going out on tour shortly, and you’ve played quite a lot this year already. What are the highs and lows of touring for you? Who have been your favourite bands to perform with?
We love being on the road; playing shows is one of the main reasons we’re in a band, but the lows definitely come when you’re spending 6-7 hours a day sitting in a van, and then another 3-4 sitting in a venue doing nothing. It can be one of the most frustrating ways to see new places! The highs outweigh everything else though: getting to meet fans every night and playing to new crowds in different cities will never get old. We’ve been lucky to tour with some amazing bands and people this year: Closure In Moscow were some of the most interesting people we’ve ever met. Touring with As Cities Burn was a real honour for us; they’re a band we really love and playing with them every night was incredible. We just recently toured with Hawthorne Heights as well, and that was incredible; those guys have been through it all as a band and to see them still doing what they love even after everything they’ve been through was really encouraging.