Arriving at a pretty packed out O2, I knew this was going to be one good night for serious rock enthusiasts everywhere and to start the proceedings was a six piece from Sheffield called Undercurrent.
Now for an opening act they really knew how to make the sh*t hit the fan, with a truly hyperactive bass player in the shape of Lee Carnall, three guitarists up front as well as a singer, Mo Hassan, who with the help of Mike Smith (guitar/keyboards/backing vocals) were more than capable of spanning the three essentials in any modern rock band; singing, growling and screaming, these were ready to unload some serious sh*t!
And that is exactly what they did, from the opening bars of ‘Hollow’ to the final dark menacing tones of ‘The Count’, oddly enough this song which closed their set seemed to take the classic early Kaiser Chiefs sound and twist into something much more sinister, the crowd obviously enjoyed it as this was when the moshing began in earnest. Up until now a few pockets had started here and there...but mostly the crowd were galvanized by Lee’s bass solo’s, since he was the only one with long-ish hair he did all the traditional metal hair swinging bits and obviously enjoyed every minute!
Musically their sound had quite a disturbing edge to it, if you like a world of doom-laden imagery wrapped around dark chords then these guys are well worth a look in, they’re not all out hardcore thrash...but they can entertain you so I’m happy to see them again!
Now with five bands on the bill it was a quick changeover.......so pretty soon we were confronted by The Revelations, a five piece metal core band from Chesterfield.
These were a lot, lot harder in pretty much everything they did, but the most surprising thing was lead singer, and I use that term loosely, was a very young looking Brad Harkness who pretty much growled and screamed his way through the entire set! To be fair this was in no way detrimental, in fact it just added to the overall feeling of dread their style of music brought forth. With drums giving an overwhelming sense of crushing doom and the guitars and bass working together like the right and left hand of the devil himself, musically it sounded and felt awesome!
Admittedly it may have been hard to discern one song from another, but the deeper you go into the darker regions of metal then generally speaking, that’s the way it is. With a cover of Your Demise’s ‘Burnt Tongues’ as a reference point, you might get the direction of their own material, it was during this song that some guy in the crowd grabbed the mic to scream along. In fact their self penned opening song ‘Reminiscence’ was a real kick in the nuts as far as the crowd were concerned and set the tone for the whole set.
The only drawback was that with Brad up front venting his anger on anyone and everyone, it was a shame the rest of the band didn’t share the same enthusiasm for similar stage antics. But overall they have a powerful sound that imprints itself well into your soul, besides any band that describes on Facebook itself with the line “If you don’t like us? F*ck off!” can’t be half bad!
With two top bands already done and dusted, the night was shaping up really well and with that in mind Secret Romance took to the stage, and to be fair they looked ready for business, especially when you consider the singer, Andy Hudson, was all dressed up like he’d just come back from a Green Day appreciation society meeting!
The main problem I had with this band was that they opened straight away with covers, ‘Teenage Kicks’ and ‘Song 2’ were the ones that spring to mind as well as ‘Fight For Your Right To PARTY!’. Admittedly the younger members of the crowd who couldn’t quite get their heads round the earlier groups seemed to enjoy it, but it wasn’t until they played their own material, which in all honesty wasn’t bad that the rest of the room paid attention.
They seem to come across as a punked up metal band, slightly lacking the edge that you’d expect from the likes of Green Day or Limp Bizkit, but that can be worked on. Mind you their final track ‘The Last Stand’ did show a lot of promise with some good solo work on guitar and the odd dip into screaming towards the end, more of that, less of the covers and you have the making of a band!
But not to worry for now Sleep Athena were here to get everything back on track again, and did they have a way of making an entrance! With the band on stage ready to play their singer, Nathan Kobierowski wandered amongst the crowd stirring them up for their set; he even included an impression the Family Guy character Herbert with the line “I’ve got popsicles in my pocket!”, not sure how this relates to metal.....but there you go!
From that point on the show was a riot, Nathan pretty much stayed on the main floor as he hurled one song after another pretty much in the face of anyone who dared come near him. Opening with ‘Dismantling Owls’, this was quickly followed by ‘GUM’ which basically contained a barrage of screaming interspersed with the line “Suck my d*ck!”, I have to admit watching a whole bunch of kids chanting along to this was pretty funny and musically it wasn’t bad either.
They come across as a pretty good hardcore band, making all the right sounds to back all the right screams or growls up front, and neatly wrapped up with all the right amount of psychotic menace. Due to Nathan’s virtual one man show the rest of the band were practically ignored, but even so they could bang out a good tune it has to be said, it wasn’t incoherent thrash, more adrenaline fused metal than anything else.
If the Balrog, from Lord Of The Rings, had a guitar and mic this is the kinda stuff he’d play, the crowd loved it and I loved it, nuff said!
And finally we reached Planet 9, I found them pretty impressive when I saw them back in February and now, as then, they still retained that tight knit act on stage. Plenty of bouncing and thrashing about while dropping from metal grind into punk thrash without so much as a blink of an eye.
Announced as a track they’d never played before, ‘Beltane Blitz’ was a truly awesome drum throughout, its almost as if they’ve taken the Terminator theme and just put it to skins, then gone on to layer a solid grinding metal song around it. Lyrically it was kept pretty basic with a lot of “Woah, woah, woah!” but it was the drums that stuck with me on this track, if they take anything away from this gig then it has to be that this song needs to be played everytime!
With a cover of Jay Sean’s ‘Down’ to keep the crowd bouncing along they slotted in their EP tracks here and there to much applause. ‘Game Over’ was memorable for its hard and heavy intro, almost akin to an Offspring punk riff, whilst ‘Wicked Sins’ had their choreographed guitar jumping on stage as it growled along with a thumping grind.
Somehow they seemed louder and harder than the last time I saw them, they had more attitude and with the drums really drilling into you the overall effect was really astonishing. It’s good to see they’re not resting on their laurels and are happy to keep developing the talent they’ve already shown!
By the end of their set the crowd were so moshed out that they eventually ended up as a hapless pile of scrabbling teenagers in the middle of the floor to which security came over assuming that a riot was about to break out, wrong! It was just kids having fun, enjoying a good night out with some quality bands; I’ll vouch for that cos I was there!
Words & Photos Geoff Buckthorpe