Who: Chimp Spanner and Heart in Hand w/ Demoraliser, The Algorithm, Dyscarnate, Against the Flood
When: 8th September 2012
Where: Camden Underworld, London, UK
When my local Capital announces that they’ve gotten themselves into a battle of supremacy; a joint effort showcasing the best of Basick records pitted against the best of Siege of Amida, begun with what I can only imagine as two very drunk label executives arguing in a bar (as is the British way), it’s only natural that I find myself making way down for the spectacle. Ten bands on the bill, all competing for the title of ‘best of British talent,’ at one of my favourite venues no less; well how could I not? Apologies to “No Conseqence”, “Visions”, and “Dripback” who performed before I was able to arrive, and condolences in particular to “Aliases” who found themselves held up in Manchester, as this one artist I wished I could have seen once again.
Against the Flood – Sample
First of the night for me, and you can say what you will about those inclined to the ‘core’ side of the metal spectrum (and of course the young hardcore dancing fanbase, which too, sadly made an appearance) but already in this line-up has a band surprised me. Adding all too brief atmospheric guitar passages into their compositions (much to the confusion of said moronic fan base who didn’t quite look like they knew what to do) and contrasting it with plenty of the repetitive and bouncy chest bashing breakdowns we usually associate with it, lends them a distinct flavour; a subtle hint that there’s more to them than meets they eye, and one they never forgot. Music aside, it is surely their live performances that shall set them apart, taking more than the musical style but hardcore attitude along with them, bouncing around and, ok, sadly doing the “crabcore” dance more than once, but also managing plenty of movement around the small stage; the vocalist feeling each line with a melodramatic emotion and repeatedly calling for more movement, insulting the crowd without malice as they go, even going so far as to briefly jump off stage so he can yell his lines in peoples faces personally. There might be nothing here I’ve not seen before but they definitely do it well, and whilst I can’t claim to have been converted, they’ve certainly earned my respect.
Dyscarnate – Sample
It’s a shame the same can’t be said for Siege of Amida’s next offering, a deathcore band – I never got deathcore, who first went ‘lets make death metal bouncy?’ But moving on – who managed to quickly dissipate any energy left before them. It feels a member short; they’re missing a lead guitar player to play more than a few basic chords, and with the sole guitarist handling the vocals as well, he feels like he’s trying to do too much and does it all mediocrely. Even the resident ‘core’ nuts failed more than a mild head bob. Minimal movement from the other two members and minimal variety to their sound – props to the drummer actually managing to vary his beats though – and every song sounding damn near identical; I can’t help but wonder if they’d spent half the time they did at the gym trying to make themselves look the tough guy and spent it learning their instruments they might have written something worth listening to.
The Algorithm – Sample
An artist I first stumbled into and wondered if I’d entered the wrong venue, this mad Frenchman is unquestionably the oddball of the show, combining what can best be described as Electronica and Djent to make ‘djentstep,’ an affectionate term coined by his fans. Quickly drawing the largest crowd – admittedly containing many I suspect curious as to what the hell was going on – whilst his on stage antics may not be the most involving given his solo artist status (excluding the phenomenal drumming), the real beauty of his live show, especially compared to his recorded material, is the atmosphere it conveys. Never quite sure whether he’s gonna break out a heavy guitar line or djentle melody (or even a reggae beat at one stage), it lends an odd unpredictability; a scramble as moshers begin to rave and dance; headbangers grabbing each others in arms to dance. He might just be the only man on the planet capable of turning a metal gig into something a few glo-sticks short of a rave. Many came out of curiosity but all were raving in the end and rest assured if there were glo-sticks we’d be waving them too. The Algorithm are perhaps the genres most unlikely rising star.
Demoraliser – Sample
You won’t see me praising metalcore very often so enjoy it whilst it lasts. Yes, once again the crowd might have cleared for what most expected to be more gorilla’s beating their chests but this is a metalcore artist that brings me back to my youth, where I perhaps spent too much time listening to the genre. Bounciness doesn’t replace the thick, almost sludge-like riffs and rhythms and they manage to balance their addictive grooves with the aggression. The energy of the performance could certainly see a little work, all but the vocalist rooted to the spot (and even he wasn’t the most energetic front-man I’ve seen) but the manner in which they performed was enough to send the precious few who remained into overdrive. They may not be reinventing the wheel but they’re certainly trying to remind us of the glory that genre used to be.
Heart in Hand – Sample
You don’t replace talent with volume. It seems obvious but apparently to mask their actual music this band felt the need to make it so loud it just sounds like noise; anything less than a guitar chord or the snare drum getting lost in the mix. The vocalist is more there for something to watch than actually supplying vocals and I wish I could call this a sound engineers fault, but no, there they were for ten minutes telling them to turn it up. The worst part is that there were passages that looked like they could be interesting if I could just hear them properly. No strangers to live performances they had energy up the wazoo but in their quest to be the loudest, lost the ability to actually give a good performance.
Chimp Spanner – Sample
And for the fourth time thus far I have been graced by the ever modest Chimp Spanner; an artist that sticks to what he knows: blowing your mind with melodious yet technical harmonies. It might seem odd to have an instrumental artist headline a show but what he lacks in vocality and movement around the stage he compensates in musicianship, being a genuine joy; a guitarists wet dream as we watch him tap and shred his way into our hearts. More than him solo are his support band who continually try to work their way into the limelight; if it was the drummer who last tried to steal the show it must surely now be the bassists turn, charismatically and energetically performing for the crowd, and yet the focus on Ortiz remains. Once again they have proven themselves capable of sending a crowd soaring one minute only to have them banging their heads the next. This is one artist that never seems to disappoint.