Fiona Stephens

Trivium – Rock City 18/2/17

Saturday night was a great night in Nottingham for the local metalheads – Trivium were back and headlining the stage at Rock City. Supported by the recently popular Shvpes and Sikth, who were unfortunately missing a guitarist, it was with mixed feelings the crowd entered the venue.

Shvpes had a very energetic front man, who engaged the crowd extremely well and got them pumped. Their 7 song set was short, but the crowd were singing along by the time they played Skin & Bones. The vocalist was constantly calling for a circle pit, and repeatedly spoke to the crowd and tried to get them as hyped as he could for the following acts.

[7/10]

Up next were Sikth, and although they were down a guitarist, it didn’t stop them from giving the performance 110%. The prog metallers have two lead vocalists, and although it seemed like this might be overwhelming, they both incorporate different styles into their performances and blend them together really well. The crowd gave Sikth positive reactions, singing along and giving them a circle pit. Shoeless guitarist Dan managed to fill the empty guitar space with some insane prog metal riffs that the crowd went crazy for.

[9/10]

Finally, out came Trivium. The crowd knew what was coming with a stage set up of a huge stone throne for drums. The trademark Trivium skulls were also present. The entire performance was planned, but it felt like the group were just going through the motions, all the way from Rain to Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr. However, that didn’t stop the crowd from getting into the performance and vocalist Matt Heafy frequently asked the crowd for help on the vocals.

[8/10]

Provoker – The Long Defeat [EP]

The five piece from Portsmouth known as Provoker will self release their debut EP, The Long Defeat, on 6th March. Provoker is made up of former members of the groups Munoe EffectHousefiresAttention Thieves and Elephantis, and share a love of heavy music and live performance.

The Long Defeat opens with Admission, immediately heavy and drawing the attention of the listener. Non-fans of heavy music will quickly switch off, but fans will appreciate the varied singing and screaming vocals between the lead vocalist and the backing. Provoker sound like a more gritty and edgier A Day To Remember without the pop punk vibe, and a better mixed and mastered Gallows.

Up next is the heavier Solitary, however the chorus lightens off the song due to the sung vocals and the guitar melody immediately afterwards. It is the sort of track that would inspire a mosh pit, and could potentially have a great light show to go alongside it.

Bang in the middle of the EP is Adopt Adapt which starts off with straight chords and a solid drum beat but tapers off into broken chords and the drums perform stops, before the song actually starts. This track is more riff based than the others, particularly under the vocals in the verse.

Accountable is more like typical metal, Provoker launch straight into the track without introductions. However at the end of the track, the instrumental section quietens down and evolves into a more alternative track, ending with a guitar solo, which is unconventional for a standard song.

The final track, Empty, starts the same way as Accountable, however where Accountable channeled a more Gallows vibe at the beginning of the track, Empty channels a Lostprophets vibe. However both tracks seem to swap over halfway through, so Accountable ends sounding more alternative, whereas Empty sounds more typically metal in the middle, before introducing an instrumental section.

Throughout The Long Defeat it becomes clear that Provoker aren’t a typical chug chug metal group, they are more musically complex. The chords they use are generally higher up the neck of the guitar than is usual for this genre of music, providing a nice contrast to the bass, drums, and lower toned vocals. The riffs that are used under the vocals sit nicely without overpowering the tracks. The EP leaves the listener wanting more, and is a great introduction to the group.

[9/10]

Bleeker – Erase You

Fans of Bleeker will recognise the iconic riff of the opening track of their album Erase You, as first up is Highway, taken from their self titled EP, but updated with a twist as per their early 2017 release. However Erase You contains their entire self titled EP, with only a few new songs.

New tracks from Bleeker include Getting OutEmergency and Every Time You CallGetting Out contains clear cut sections, the verses contain just drums and the guitars and bass join in at the upbeat chorus. These new tracks are well crafted; they provide a breath of fresh air and perk the listener up. They are also well mixed, mastered and would sound great live.

Still Got Love, if performed by any other artist, could easily be a pop song. The lead vocalist, Taylor Perkins, sounds like a much more talented Robbie Williams. The guitar and bass provide the heaviness and grit that makes a rock band, instead of a pop group.

Emergency is a more serious track in comparison to the other new songs, but still written in a major key and providing an uplifting contrast to the more morbid lyrical content. Close My Eyes follows this vein but is written in a minor key and opens with broken chords on piano. When the rest of the instruments come in, it creates a build up to a much heavier track than the rest of the album, which is a great contrast.

Erase You ends with an absolute corker of a track, Every Time You Call. It follows in the same vein as Highway – it’s catchy, memorable and would make an excellent choice for a single. This track would sound amazing live, it sounds like energy itself.

Even non Bleeker fans will find something to enjoy, as they make easily listenable and produce enjoyable, catchy tracks. The disappointing part of the album is the re use of tracks from their self titled EP which was released late last year. It would have been nice to see more new content from the obviously talented group. Bleeker have managed to combine cheerful and serious tracks in one album without the serious songs sounding out of place.

[8/10]

The Pretty Reckless release video for ‘Oh My God’

American rockers The Pretty Reckless have released a video for their latest single Oh My God. It’s the second single to be taken from their third album Who You Selling For, and one of the edgier songs.

It’s just me and the band, pouring ourselves into the song, and into the camera.  It’s subtle, you have to really watch it to understand all the layers, but it’s honest, and that to me always yields the best art.” – Lead singer Taylor Momsen

 

Halflives announce debut album ‘Empty Rooms’

Italian group Halflives have announced the release date of their debut album, Empty Rooms, which will be 14th April. Halflives have managed to crowd fund the cost of the album and actually smashed their target. Well done guys!

In support of their album, Halflives will tour Europe with Courage My Love, who they have previously collaborated with on a cover of All The Things She Said. UK dates below:

Halflives UK Tour May / June 2017 w/ Courage My Love

May 31st – Southampton – Talking Heads (tickets)
June 1st – Bristol – The Exchange (tickets)
June 2nd – Bridgwater – Cobblestones (tickets)
June 3rd – London – Camden Rocks Festival (tickets)
June 4th – Manchester – Rebellion (tickets)

Epoch – Sacrosanct

Sacrosanct was originally released digitally by death metallers Epoch in 2015, but on January 31st, almost 2 years later, the group released the album on CD.

Sacrosanct opens with To Datechon, ho Katechon. It is a very typical death metal track, with fast, heavy cymbals and double kick pedals, guitar riffs that interchange between chugs and riffs, and heavy heated vocals where the lyrics are indiscernible. However the track ends early at barely 2 minutes and 50 seconds, tapering off and building suspense for the rest of the album.

The following track, Vision Absolute, contains sudden stops in the first verse that are in direct contrast with the rest of the layers and complicated riffs of the track. The listener expects the stops to occur again throughout the track, however the music evolves and changes so that by the time the track is halfway through, it sounds completely different. Even by the end, the music has changed again, making the casual listener do a double take.

Each track has a clear instrumental introduction section which would traditionally set the tone for the rest of the song, however in Sacrosanct these sections are cleverly used to provide the listener with variety. The trouble with many death metal albums is that they sound the same all the way through, however Sacrosanct is cleverly layered and sectioned to avoid this problem.

Ichneumon is the track that sticks out on Sacrosanct due to the discordant nature of the chord progression. A very atonal and musically complex song, it is very difficult with a lot going on as there usually is in death metal to pull these types of chords off, however Epoch do it extremely well.

The downside to Sacrosanct is that there are no slow songs and all the vocals are heated screamed vocals. It would be interesting to see Epoch perform a metal ballad, the musicians certainly have the capability and it would provide a nice variety to the album. The downside with constant screamed vocals is that to the average listener the lyrical content is difficult to decipher. Most of the tracks on the album are also roughly the same bpm.

[7/10]

Dearly Beloved – Admission

Admission, the fifth album from duo Dearly Beloved was released on 27th January. For a two piece, their music has many different layers, and clearly both members of the group are well qualified in several instruments.

Admission opens with RIP, which has elements of different genres: straight up 4/4 rock, ska, garage, and classic rock to name a few. These genres are not usually mixed together, however Dearly Beloved pull it off.

Dearly Beloved have a unique sound for a modern group. Admission was recorded at Studio 666, owned by Dave Grohl, recorded on the very same console as Nirvana‘s Nevermind. Analogue consoles tend to capture more warmth and tone than many digital consoles used today. The song I Tried To Leave captures the sound of rock from the 70s and 80s not only in written style, but also in the recording, which is partially down to the legendary console. Adding to that ‘old garage’ sound is producer Daniel Rey, who produced Ramones and Misfits.

Who Wants To Know includes more alternative themes than the tracks that precede it. It sounds a little like tracks from Muse‘s debut album Showbiz, but with more garage. With a repeating riff and some exploration with the melody, it’s a tune that won’t leave the listener’s head any time soon.

Around halfway through the album in Strobe-Dosing there is some exploration with musical themes that is rarely seen in modern music. However, the abrupt end to the track jars the listener. The track that follows, Currents, follows the same sort of structure, however the listener may start to get bored here.

The second half of Admission is far more experimental than the first half, which is the more commercial half. As Dearly Beloved are a group who regularly tour, it would be interesting to see how they pull off a live show with only two core members.

The penultimate track, When You Had The Choice, returns to the more commercial side of Dearly Beloved. It would be a good choice for a single.

The final track, Future Shock, contains a lot more energy than the rest of the album and would also be a great choice for a single. It’s a particularly good track to end an album with as it will stick in the listener’s head for a long time after the album has finished.

All in all, although there is a dip in the middle where some listeners may not enjoy the experimental side of Dearly BelovedAdmission is a good album, containing variation of genre and is a new and exciting twist on an old style of music.

[8/10]

LIVE: Black Peaks – Leicester Firebug 4/2/17

Friday night saw the return of Black Peaks to Leicester – they’d performed once before at the renowned venue The Shed, famous for the promoter that runs off with the profits, but that time they’d literally played to a man and his dog. This time, Firebug was sold out, and the tiny room was jam packed full of people.

First up were Croydon’s Bad Sign – an alternative three piece that somehow made a much bigger sound than seemed possible, probably helped by the impressive sound technician’s skills, which only added to the performance. Each group had their own introduction of sound effects to build hype, helping to tie all the acts in together.

Bad Sign had great stage presence, and interacted often with the audience, provoking huge cheers. Their sound was more musically interesting than the usual alt rock acts, with the bass carrying the rhythm and providing well placed filler notes, and the guitar sitting gracefully on top. They also had some prog influences in terms of time and style changes within songs. Different influences such as RadioheadRed Hot Chili Peppers and Feeder could be heard in their music.

[10/10]

Next up were Tigercub, originally from Brighton. They had a more experimental feel to them than Bad Sign, and were more musically talented but had less of a positive reaction from the audience, and their music was less commercial. They sounded like a more alternative, less grungy NirvanaTigercub used lots of counterpoint and variation within and between their songs. They had more interesting drum patterns than Bad Sign, however the drums were used to pull everything together in Bad Sign. While Tigercub were obviously well rehearsed, they felt less fluent and less together than Bad Sign did. Most of the audience were on their phones after just a few songs from Tigercub, and the audience winced at some of the effects used as it was just too much.

[6/10]

Finally, Black Peaks came on to a massive audience cheer. There was almost instantly a mosh pit and the group were obviously happy to be playing to such a great crowd. It was easy to see why Black Peaks are so popular, their music is simpler than the other two groups preceding them, however they were heavier and incorporated elements of metal into alternative rock. They had great timing between the musicians and work really well together. Black Peaks put on a great show, and thanked not only the two support acts, but all the staff at Firebug. It won’t be long before Black Peaks are playing much bigger venues. Ending with To Take The First Turn, the audience did not want Black Peaks to go.

[10/10]