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Sam Preece

LIVE REVIEW: Neck Deep, Leeds Beckett University 19.04.16

WSTR did a fantastic job of warming up the crowd for Neck Deep in Leeds, intensifying the crowd who were clearly ready for a good night. The live performance from all four members were watertight and enthusiastic, giving a sound that was incredibly similar to their recorded music.  Playing their well-known song, Fair Weather the band seemed in their element on stage with the audience and the band keeping the early buzz of energy alive.

 

The band did an excellent cover of Limp Bizkit’s Break Stuff which triggered an immense mosh pit and sent the crowd crazy. It was a genius idea to surprise the audience with the cover because it was an unexpected song that every single person knew. The only thing left to increase the crowd intensity was to have Neck Deep’s Ben Barlow pierce the stage and join them in their biggest hit, Graveyard Shift. As you can imagine, this went down exceptionally well with the audience.

[8/10]

The crowd’s commitment and energy snowballed into Creeper’s set. The theatrical punk band approached the stage in an assertive, determined manor. They knew they had one job, to make the crowd go insane, and that’s exactly what they did. Will Gould’s vocals were phenomenal, and left no doubt as to why they deserved their spot opening for Neck Deep. While every member seemed to have their own personal signature on stage, they still worked outstandingly together to create a unique blend of punk progressive rock. They performed tracks from their EP The Stranger including Black Mass which proved to be a crowd favourite. Their performance of slower song Misery made every single hair on your body stand on end. It made the mental crowd the quietest they would be for the whole night as they listened, captivated by the band.

[8/10]

Neck Deep’s two-hour set flew by in a blitz of pure pop-punk awesomeness. From flawless guitar riffs to an impeccable bass performance and on point, compelling drumming – ND got it spot on. All this was accompanied by front man, Ben Barlow’s fiery and hungry vocals.

The band had the sold out Leeds Beckett crowd in the palm of their hand with their current single Serpents which was executed with passion and vigour. There were people crowd surfing throughout the entire set while others were chanting, cheering and singing as loud as they could. An already frenzied crowd vamped up to the next level as the band beganDecember during their encore. The whole place was singing word for word along with Ben creating a warm and united atmosphere with a numinous feeling washing over with every word sang.

The arrangement of the guys on stage couldn’t have been better, they spread out across the width of the stage with guitarists, Matt West and Sam Bowden occasionally switching sides giving the audience some variation. In despite of the place being a heat bed, both ND and the fans danced, jumped and moshed all night, nothing was going to stop anyone going insane and enjoying this show.

Ben’s vocal range really got the chance to shine out during his performance of A Part of Me. Again, the crowd sang along in near perfect harmony which clearly meant a lot to Ben as he smiled every time he got the chance to break and listen to them. He was joined on stage by Creeper’s keyboard player Hannah Greenwood who expertly sang Laura Whiteside’s part from the original track.

If there are any pop-punk fans or music lovers out there who haven’t yet seen Neck Deep live, you’re missing out heavily. Stick it on your bucket-list, you absolutely must see these guys doing what they do best.

[10/10]

 

REVIEW: Hit The Lights | Just to Get You Through EP

Hit the Lights new acoustic EP, Just to Get You Through is the perfect thing to re-introduce some of the bands most loved songs. The whole EP has an almost tranquil feel to it while at the same time still managing to hook the listener with catchy riffs and melodies. The acoustic versions of their hits take absolutely nothing away from the original tracks maintaining their captivating edge.

Drop the Girl was one of the biggest successes from Skip School, Start Fights and again, this track certainly stands out on this EP as well. It is a toe tapper and impossible not to sing along with Nick’s absorbing vocals. One of their older songs Save Your Breath was the first song idea that Nick brought to the band and so, fittingly, it is included on the track list. The acoustic version of the song actually progressively shows how Hit the Lights have improved and matured over 10 years. This song is a fantastic homage to their growth and shows off how well they gel together and how they have developed.

The opening track Blasphemy Myself and I instantly lays the ground for the rest of the EP. It shows the depth to Nick Thompson’s vocals and portrays light and darkness faultlessly. A good choice to pull the listener in. Fucked Up Kids andSummer Bones are tracks that brilliantly show off the bands technical musical skill. They just work. Every element that builds up the compositions are just genius and like gold to listen to. The EP ends with brand new song Lighthouse which isn’t exactly an acoustic track but would seem out of place on another HTL album. The track actually works really well with the other tracks on Just to Get You Through. It is slightly different to anything else the band have released before and gives a sincere and vulnerable end to the EP.

Just to Get You Through is so much more than just an acoustic EP. It’s a chance for fans to reflect back on HTL’s work. It’s the ability to prepare for future releases, like Lighthouse, and move forward with the band. It’s a way to feel connected with HTL in a way they never have before.

[8/10]

Listent to Lighthouse below and pre order the EP out 6th May here.

LIVE REVIEW: Boy Jumps Ship, Fibbers – York, 01.05.16

Boy Jumps Ship came onto the stage at Fibbers in York to a fairly small yet intense crowd for the opening show of their UK headline tour. As they took their positions on stage, front man Si Todd positively called for everyone to “come to the front, let’s have some fun” and the audience obliged. Opening with Lost and Found the four guys sounded like a band far beyond their years, exploding less like a band touring their debut album and more like an established, confident one.

Si’s unmistakeable vocals brought their album to life right in front of you on stage. The band’s distinctive on stage chemistry shone through in abundance and matched with their passion for performing live. Although all four have their own unique stage styles and presence, they collaborate excellently for an immense atmosphere. Guitarist Jonathan Douglas’ (Dougie) brought drive and energy while bassist Jonny Rob supplied substance and some of the best musicianship on the scene at the moment. All this was backed up with the momentum, pulsation and pure charisma from drummer Gav Gates. A recipe for a great night.

The most perfectly executed performance of the night, hands down, goes to Make You Proud. This track was a definite highlight for the band as their commitment projected like a beacon from the stage. The backing vocals synced well with Si’s voice which were backed up by a solid rhythm section to produce a barricade of outstanding pop-rock.
They didn’t only play tracks from the new album, they also threw in the old fan favourite Call to Arms. The Fibbers crowd had more than warmed up by this point and happily joined in singing and dancing to this well-known song. This resulted in a chorus of “woahs” at the end of the song that echoed over the venue and created a special moment between the band and fans building their connection even further.

Another stand out song was Turn Up the Radio, with its catchy chorus and prevalent musical technicality, it was bound to be a crowd winner. If you didn’t know the song before the gig, you certainly loved it after. The only down side to this gig was the short space of time BJS had to perform, the set felt slightly rushed which did unfortunately some-what take away from the night. However, this didn’t stop it from being an awesome gig that the lads will surely be proud of.

[9/10]

REVIEW: One Gone Thus | Impermanence EP

One Gone Thus will hit your ears on the 3rd June with their debut EP Impermanence. First impressions of the EP are promising, the duo have been honest about how experimental their sound is and this is confirmed with Impermanence.

The first track, Self and Soul is a nice introduction to OGT and nicely shows their solid technical capability. The lyrics and vocals on the track have excellent potential however aren’t made prominent enough.
‘You have everything to mourn when you have nothing left to lose. And how often we forget the ones we love the most are dying too.’
The vocals switch from light to shade in a very clever way, it’s just a shame that this is not made the most of being drowned out by the distraction of a mediocre synthetic sound.

Fortunately, the vocals in the second track The Girl Who Turned to Stone are slightly more in the spotlight allowing for a better listener connection. The best part of this song, by far, is the breakdown. It’s built up of a buoyant drum beat backed up with encouraging guitar work and topped off with charismatic vocals.

The remainder of the EP takes on the more conventional rock sound, and does it well. I Disappear marks the half way point in the EP with a fairly stripped down composition. Although this track isn’t ground-breaking or a particularly stand out piece, it does offer a needed variance to the EP. I Disappear is followed by the charming piano intro of the fourth track, Porcelain. The piano is accompanied by foreboding vocals that draw you in instantly. This calm introduction leads into a heavier resonance that is held throughout the rest of the song.

Impermanence is rounded up with Watch Me Change, a song that has a classic rock feel to it. This track displays the musical ability of OGT well with great guitar riffs, passionate and poignant vocals all complemented with excellent drums and bassline that offer a solid beat.

All in all OGT have created a good debut EP that shows promise of great things to come. Despite Impermanence being somewhat chaotic in terms of genre, there are moments throughout that hold aptitude and demonstrate One Gone Thus’obvious talent.

[7/10]

Listen to Impermanence for FREE from 3rd June here and check out the Self and Soul lyric video below.

REVIEW: Cardinal Bay | Answers EP

Brace yourself because Cardinal Bay have some Answers for you with their new EP. Starting with the title track Answers you are eased into the CB musical dome. It is extremely well thought out right down to the last detail. With melodic vocals laid over the top of counterpart screaming vocals substantiated with an undeniably strong drumming from Matt Ward.

This style of drumming is evident again in Masquerade which -although would still be a good song without – relies on Ward’s skills to make to track great. There is one line from this track that is guaranteed to stay with you is ‘Hell No, we won’t suffocate here’. The third track on the EP, #Shotgun is a fairly generic pop-hardcore song. The track takes a call and response structure with nice guitar work versing worthy vocals that are vamped up to the next level as Josh Rogers slips into heavier screaming at appropriate times.

For epic instrumentals and stunning vocals, listen to the last track on the EP, There Are No Flames in Hell. This song takes you on an entertaining journey of accreditation and certainty through its confident lyrics and assured execution. This song opposes the rest of the EP, it drops the call and response feel for a more together impression all coming to an abrupt yet conclusive end as if to say, ‘that’s it, there’s your answers’.

Last but not least is the second track, Out of Sight is a song that is pretty much left up to your own interpretation. Lyrics describing how solidarity can conquer can applied to almost any situation. Musically, the track has some fantastic parts including a significant moment a minute before the end where guitar, bass, drums and vocals all seem to unite in an instant of glory.

Answers has an assertive ambiance throughout performed with conviction by every single member of the band.
It gives you the sense that Cardinal Bay have found where they want to be and want to share their answers with all their fans and anyone else who will listen. It is an EP the boys should be proud of.

[8/10]

LIVE REVIEW: As It Is | The Deaf Institute Manchester | 24/05/16

HAIR! Hair everywhere – a pop-punk filled night at The Deaf Institute was kicked off with Jules Vera and first impressions were that you had to have hair at least down to your shoulders to be in this band. As the five-piece found their places in front of the northern audience, they looked a little cramped and slightly awkward on the small stage. However, this awkwardness soon ironed out as the band got playing songs from their album Friendly Enemies. Singer Ansley Newman mixed things up with the company of a ukulele for two songs throughout the set and her vocals were truly enchanting for the bands duration. Although every member played an important part successfully, multi-instrumentalist Jake Roland was clearly a highlight. His display of innovative guitar work, solos and riffs were simply excellent and really elevated Jule Vera to their full potential.
The band displayed diversity with an instrumental including great use of a floor tom drum as Ansley passed a smaller drum across the front row to hold while she played it. This was greeted with their biggest reaction of the night and was followed by a beautiful performance of Scarlet Letter, which consisted of a charming duet showing off stunning vocals and accompanying keyboard from Jake. One thing that was unfortunately lacking was stage chemistry between entire band, it wasn’t awful but it was by no means matched up to the standard of the music they were producing.
[7/10]

Jule Vera
Jule Vera – Credit to Jade Falconer Photography

With Confidence were up next and they unquestionably lived up to their name. Bracing the stage pumped up and ready to go, showing Jule Vera how it should be done, they had the crowd in the palm of their hand from the off. Having half the crowd who were clearly fans of the band already on side, With Confidence set off on persuading the other half to join them. Their performance had elements that were reminiscent of mid-90s pop punk, which worked really well with their modern edge to create a unique sound for the genre. It was obvious the guys were having the time of their lives on stage and this fun spilled through to their interaction with the crowd.
It was guitarist Luke Rockets birthday and a pizza with candles on was brought out as both band and audience sang ‘happy birthday’ to him. This was a pinnacle moment as the whole place seemed to be at ease after this and everyone was having fun. Stand out songs in the set were Higher and Godzilla not because they were performed any better than the other songs but because there was just something about them. The crowd fed off this, creating an unforgettable atmosphere around the room. They were a perfect pop-punk band complete with crowd banter, catchy songs and mosh pits. With Confidence kindly brought the Sydney sunshine to their music and happily shared it with everyone there.

[7/10]

With Confidence - Credit to Jade Falconer Photography
With Confidence – Credit to Jade Falconer Photography

As It Is opened up to a packed out venue with Speak Soft and it was the ideal choice to invigorate the crowd as well as the band. First impressions were, sadly, somewhat disappointing as sound levels were off. Thankfully after the first few songs – which included some older tunes that dedicated fans loved – everything was sorted and Patty Walter’s adored vocals could be heard properly. The band played all the fan favorites and they practically burst off the stage with conviction. Patty summed up the audience’s reaction, “When you guys jump, it feels like this stage is about to break down. So let’s see if we can make that happen.” They inevitably obliged, however fortunately the stage remained intact.

The chemistry between every single guy on the stage was brilliant, anyone expecting to see ‘The Patty Walters Show’ was mistaken. It was fantastic to hear a smoother side to Ben Foley’s vocals at appropriate times during the set. Seeing the renowned dynamic of Ben’s grittier vocals against Patty’s more pop sound coming to life on stage was a remarkable experience. Although Patty’s vocals were a little higher pitched than their recorded tracks, he was still a pleasure to listen to and the rest of the band played their parts near perfect to their album.

The band are notorious for their passion and energy on stage and this gig was no different, nevertheless things slowed down toward the end. Everyone apart from Patty exited the stage while he gave a heart-felt speech about how much their fans mean to the band he then continued to talk about his personal struggles he has gone through mentally and offered advice to anyone going through something similar. This was aptly shadowed by an acoustic performance of My Oceans Were Lakes. This performance was like watching Patty’s journey from being a solo artist on Youtube to being in this successful band personified on stage. It was a spine-tingling experience. As It Is effectively put on the show that every fan wanted to see.

[8/10]

Ben Foley of As It Is - Credit to Jade Falconer Photography
Ben Biss of As It Is – Credit to Jade Falconer Photography

REVIEW: Griever | Soul Searcher EP

Griever’s new EP Soul Searcher thrusts you into the realisation of passionate and well executed metal-core. The opening title-track Soul Searcher instantly bares the band for all to hear and reminds listeners of what melodic death metal should sound like. This is only reinforced more with the second track Malevolence which has powerful vocals layered onto epic guitar work. The sundry vocals in this song puts front man David Seymour in that rare category of distinct sound.

It is impossible to sit still and listen to Virulence, the third track on the EP. The fast tempo and strong beat provided by the bass and drums stimulates motivation and fills you with focus making it inevitable to get lost in the music. She is Death is a seriously haunting experience, it’s like the band held in all their rage and emotion and just let it burst into this song. This in no way takes away from the technical excellence that they built up with the previous three tracks, in fact, it is the best track in terms of musicianship on the entire EP.

Most Eps and albums have a weak link and unfortunately this one comes in the form of Liberate. Although it luckily somewhat works within the EP as a whole, it wouldn’t work well on its own. This is a real shame as it does contain a brilliant guitar solo toward the end that just seems wasted in this disoriented song. The EP is finished off with A Pure Heart which rounds it off very nicely. It gives the feel that Soul Searcher has come full circle as the melodic side to the band returns. The breakdown in this song has a sacred sense to it which sets a tone for the rest of the track. The unique structure of this song works really well and makes it stand out far from the rest of the EP.

This EP makes a statement from Griever ‘we are here, you should listen.’ After listening to it, it leaves you with the feeling of – they came, they played, they conquered.

[8/10]

Slam Dunk Festival Interview with CANE HILL

We had a chat with vocalist Elijah Witt and guitarist James Barnett from metal band Cane Hill at Slam Dunk Festival, Leeds 2016.

How do you feel about playing the 10th anniversary of Slam Dunk Festival?

Elijah – I didn’t even know it’s been around for 10 years. Happy 10th Slam Dunk!

The question on everyone’s lips, will you be playing any songs from ‘Smile’ today?

Elijah and James – YES.

James – Three songs.

Can we ask which ones?

Elijah – True Love, New Jesus and then one that we haven’t released called You’re So Wonderful.

Nice, that sounds good. So if you only had three words each, how would you describe the album?

Elijah – Smoke fucking weed.

James you have to beat that now!

James – Yeah I’m on the spot now.

Elijah – Get fucking wrecked.

James – He is killing it.

Elijah – Eat fucking shit.

James – Heavy Fucking Metal. Do bad shit.

How would you say the album has progressed from the EP?

James – The album is a bit more mature, y’know a bit more structured. When I wrote the EP I was in high school and that was years and years ago so now we all have much different views on things and our taste in music has changed.

When are you coming back to the UK to tour ‘Smile’?

Elijah – December we come back, with Bullet for My Valentine and KillSwitch Engage.

James – Yeah, it’s very exciting.

Have you guys got any time out to go check out any bands today?

Elijah – I’m listening to Moose Blood, I will not miss them. I will also be watching New Years Day and Creeper.

Oh yeah, Creeper are awesome live.

Elijah – Yeah yeah yeah, it’s like sad boy punky rock. I super enjoy sad boy rock.

James – I have no idea who’s playing (laughs).

Why should people come and see you guys instead of the other bands on at the same time?

Elijah – Everyone else sucks. (Laughs) We’re heavy as fuck and pissed.

What can people look forward to from your set today?

Elijah and James – New songs.

James – New guitars! We got new guitars.

Slam Dunk Festival Interview with REAL FRIENDS

Real Friends returned to play Slam Dunk Festival 2016, Leeds for the second time. Here’s what vocalist Dan Lambton and bassist Kyle Fasel had to say.

How are feeling about playing Slam Dunk Festival’s 10th anniversary?

Dan – It’s awesome. We played two years ago in 2014 but this is no different we’re still super stoked, there’s a ton of great bands and I’m also very stoked to see Set Your Goals. I haven’t seen them in a very long time.

So how have you guys progressed since playing here two years ago?

Kyle – Well we just released an album so there’s that. We’ve been to the UK only one other time after that. Our set in in 2014 was great but I’m hoping for today to be even better which could be great.

Yeah, the album was released yesterday, for those who haven’t already listened to it, why should they?

Kyle – I think it’s just a real honest record, there’s no gimmicks it’s just very real. What we wanted to write about was what we felt and song writing wise it was just the next step for us. It’s natural progression, there’s nothing forced. We’ve never claimed to be a ground-breaking band but I’m proud of the record, we’re all proud of it. It’s a great representation of Real Friends.

How has your music changed since your Eps and the last full length album?

Kyle – I think we’ve just progressed, y’know we’ve matured, every band says that but they say that though ‘cause it actually does happen. You get older, you find more techniques, you go through different things in life to write about as well. I think it definitely is a bit more in a timeless direction I guess. We don’t put ourselves in a box, not that we ever really did but when we write more songs now, we do step outside more of what we were even a couple years ago.

Would you say it’s easier to write songs now that you’ve been together for so long?

Dan – I’d say about the same, yeah that hasn’t changed.

Kyle – If anything it might be harder ‘cause we’re pickier than we were.

You’re coming back to the UK in December what can fans look forward to from the tour?

Dan – More new songs if they like the album (laughs). We’re bringing over Kuckle Puck and With Confidence who are both also very awesome bands. I just hope that they can expect a kick ass show. That’s really all we can give them.

Other than yourselves, who should people go see today?

Dan – The Starting Line, Set Your Goals and Every Time I Die.

Kyle – I’d say The Starting Line for sure. A little bit of Moose Blood too. It’s kinda wild how many people are here this early, it’s honestly pretty insane. The Story So Far will be pretty cool. Our stage (The Key Club Stage) is just packed with good bands.

Apart from touring the new album, is there anything else coming up you’re particularly excited for?

Dan – Warped Tour. We’re doing Warped Tour in the States and it’s always such a great time. We did it before the same year we did Slam Dunk, we did the whole thing and then we did a couple of the dates in 2013. It’s nice ‘cause like Slam Dunk it’s got a really diverse line-up which means everyone can come and be able to get something out of it. It’s something that in all the years that I’ve gone I’ve always found at least three bands that really justify being able to go there and I kind of preferred it ‘cause there’s less clashing.

So apart from that, what’s your favourite thing about playing festivals?

Kyle – Actually, funny thing, I actually don’t like playing festivals BUT I really do enjoy Slam Dunk. Sometimes festivals, for being in a band, a lot of things are spread out and everything but Slam Dunk is very organised and everyone is very nice. And of course the fans are great, we wouldn’t be here without them. But yeah I think Slam Dunk is totally different, it has its own kind of vibe.

Dan – I like that they take over the city too. 

Slam Dunk Festival Interview with THE AMITY AFFLICTION

We were lucky enough to sit down and talk to Ryan Burt, the drummer of The Amity Affliction. Here’s what we talked about.

You’ve got the new album, ‘This Could Be Heartbreak’ coming up and you’ve been making albums since 2008 – is there anything you’ve learned from the past that you’ve applied to this one?

There’s too many things to learn (laughs) I don’t know, we’ve all just matured over the years. It’s been eight years now since the first album so we’re a little bit older, you just get better every time I think. If you don’t get better, then what’s the point?

Do you feel like it’s become easier to write songs together?

We don’t really write together, Ahren and Dan kind of write songs by themselves and then we input at the end. It’s a weird way of doing it but it works for us.

What can fans look forward to in particular on the new album?

There’s one really weird song for us, it’s an acoustic one, we’ve never done that before. It’s probably my favourite song on the album to be honest. We’ve wanted to do an acoustic song for years but we never have, so I’m excited for everyone to hear it.

So you felt like the time was right now to do an acoustic song?

Yeah. It’s our 5th album, it’s about time.

Why did you guys call it, ‘This Could Be Heartbreak’?

Erm, Joel writes the lyrics.
So blame him?

I blame Joel. (Laughs)

Will you be playing any songs from the album today?

We’re playing Bring the Weather with Me, the first single which came out two weeks ago. There’s nothing else out yet so we’re keeping it secret.

As you’ve got so many, how do you choose which songs you’re going to play at festivals?

It’s too hard, for this run we had to change up all the times, so we’ve got like three different sets to choose from. We just pick whatever songs we think go down the best and then we’ve got the new one as well. It’s hard to fit it into like 40 minutes or whatever it is, to pick between five albums, it’s hard.

For one of your previous tours, you did a fan poll to decide which songs you played. Would you think of doing something like that again?

Yeah that was a long time ago! But yeah I think so. It depends ‘cause sometimes they pick songs that we’re not gonna play again, like songs from our EPs and stuff that other people just don’t know. So we’ll see, we’d probably do it again but to an extent.

Obviously the big question is, will you be touring the album in the UK?

Yes. I can’t say anything right now but the news will be out very soon.

But it’s a definite yes?

It’s a definite yes.