Underground Heavy #2

13-03-10

Wooooooohooooooo!! My ears were ringing for two days after this show! What a brilliant and fantastic night it was!! We had lots of moshing, slamming and heaps of fun! Thank you to the five bands – you guys all knew how to work the audience and please the crowds of people who came! Thanks to the audience and Rockschool for hosting this event! Look out for Heavy #3 in May 2010!!
love Chris B xx

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Flame of Abyss

Setlist:

1. Flame of Abyss
2. Love Departed
3. Bless Me…My Consecrated Gleams
4. Trapped at the Nowhere Places
5. 24

Despite this being their debut gig, Flame of Abyss were certainly a draw; there were even people in the audience with their stickers and other assorted crap present. They also evidently had a huge posse with them, flocked around the various band; this certainly piqued my interest. And they did not disappoint – FoA seems to have been steeped in hardcore/metal juices for quite a long time. They displayed a knack for building up songs’ intensities quite well, with some songs having a gradual accumulation of instruments, typically with a winding bassline. Other songs began at top speed straightaway, like 24, with the customary refrain at half-speed. Their songs also featured a number of changes of pace, with the nu-metal strategy of having simultaneous, interlinking melodies in one song.

The band’s body-language was a bit apprehensive to start with, which they left behind as the crowd seemed to get into their songs more. Singer Amber’s presence was confident and assured, as she took control of the crowd; however, her vocals were spread a bit thin across songs, betrayed by the heavy barrage of deep chords that they were set against. Her voice, though, is well-suited to songs composed more like 24, which may be worth exploring. Secondly, their tunes seemed somewhat lost between metal and hardcore tendencies, with either side a bit contrived. Let the song be what it will, I say, especially when there’s so much potential in them to be very good indeed. That said, this was only their first ever show, and these are flaws easily remedied with a bit of reworking. FoA not only provided an excellent kick-off, but also the prospect of developing into a formidable act.

Shashwati

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Eve of Sin

Setlist:
1. [Untitled]-*New Song
2. Surrender
3. Strangle
4. Enslave No One
5. Undefeated

The word ‘heavy’ does not quite do these guys justice – it’s a bit like calling the sun ‘hot’. The 15-minute break between sets was working quite well, with most of the audience back before the band began, and that created a palpable sense of expectancy as the band went through their frenetic warm-up-paces. After some hilarious tangling with Gregory, a salvo of crashing drums, thundering guitars, thudding bass and a screaming voice that Tom Araya (of Slayer) would be proud of, was unleashed in the form of their new song. The real headbanging began now, with the beginnings of a mosh-pit too. (It was interesting to note that the frontline of revellers was composed primarily of the members of FoA.) In fact, things got so intense that singer Mouse needed to take a breather after the action that Strangle saw.
Their songs were arranged for being potent headbanging numbers, with some interesting twists thrown in. A sinister, repeated lick formed the sonic background of Surrender, while Enslave No One had one of those classic hardcore Speedy Gonzalez runs-in to a song, with some phenomenal drumwork towards the end. There was a ‘parting of the Red Sea’ (of audience members) type-moment to hail Undefeated, to prepare room for a slam-pit, which served the crowd’s preferences well, and the set was ended on an action-packed high.
Shashwati

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Embryo

Setlist:
1. Frame
2. A Truth Behind the Glory
3. Proof
4. Quicksand
5. Endless Heart

To tease the audience as expertly as these guys did is certainly a quality worthy of praise. The very intense beginning to their set turned out to be a fakeout (or, euphemistically, levels-check)…promptly followed by another one, after which they reintroduced themselves. It was after this that their set truly began. There was further ribbing of the crowd, as singer Tai cheekily asked the crowd if “people are sleepy.” The audience seemed to enjoy this titillation, as enthusiastic pogoing was further added to the slam and headbanging. And there was plenty to headbang to; they had one foot firmly in metal with some Megadeth-like work on the bridge of A Truth Behind the Glory, while always retaining the driving, elastic nature of Slash’s licks.

Quicksand saw some bits that were actually sung (!) along with some clap-along bits towards the end, while Endless Heart featured some epic-sounding, zipping guitars, making the song almost melodic at points. The audience even seemed to know the words to the songs; a testament to these guys’ popularity. My sole complaint was with Proof; the machine-gunned guitars were let down by somewhat hammy vocals, along with a bit too many pace-changes in the song, leaving the song in no-man’s-land. This did not infringe on the enjoyability of the set, though, as it was fun to listen and slam-dance to all the way through.

Shashwati

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Shepherds the Weak

Setlist:

1. Gin & Tonic
2. As One
3. Supremo
4. Shattered
5. Integrity
6. [Untitled]
7. What it’s Worth
8. Behind These Walls

StW is one of the true heavyweights of the hardcore scene, and the set they played was testament to exactly why. Even their tuning up was noteworthy, with some stylistic forays into sounds that you never hear from a metal band. Combining their usual frenetically-paced songs, with an almost amphetamined delivery from all the band-members, their set went like clockwork, with near-segues and very smooth transitions from song to song – no shoe-leather here. They were so in control of the crowd, it was ridiculous. The revelling began from the very first second of Gin & Tonic, with the moshing getting increasingly harder as their set progressed. There was some customary making-fun-of-the-audience too, with people earning the loser-tag for knowing “the sensitive part of the song.”
In terms of song-quality, StW are unrivalled – they expertly resist the natural hardcore tendency to have a very 1-D set, with every song having its own distinct character. Having the unique ability to have not only guitarists, but vocalists play off each other, their songs foray into musical territory ranging from the weird-out rock of Primus, to the melodic strains of more “metal” bands, wrapped in good-‘ol screamed vocals. There’s even some anthemic riffs that reveal a classic-rock influence, along with highly judicious use of changes of pace. Overall, the heavy slamming and crowd-surfing (complete with bashing the Rockschool lights) spoke for itself – these guys kick major ass. ‘Nuff said.

Shashwati

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Qiu Hong

Setlist:

1. Xiong Nu
2. 7.1
3. Falling Leaves
4. Treasure Hunt
5. Get Back
6. Break the Wall
7. Serving People

In many ways, Qiu Hong was the perfect band to follow StW; the variety of their influences and diversity of their songs was comparable with the latter, along with an equal following in the crowd. So many of the lyrics were known by the crowd, that it was almost staggering to watch, as people added singing along to their various body-movements (whatever they were). Singer Jan had possibly the most unconventional voice of the night, significantly more melodic than the vocalists so far, which he used to good effect in the sizeable sung portions of their songs. There was further crowd-surfing, along with further damage to the equipment on the ceiling, along with the tired-but-exhilarated crowd’s headbanging.
Xiong Nu was a complete novelty in terms of style – I can’t remember ever hearing jungle-beats and a megaphone in one song (especially not a hardcore song). The set got more metal-core (read: deeper and heavier) as it progressed, but that was nicely balanced with the variations on the alternative and classic-rock genres that were made. This was especially effective in conveying some genuine musical rage, giving the songs a range in terms of feel, too. The night was ended in a vortex of activity and anthemic shouts of “We want to rock and roll!” ; a fitting conclusion to a, awesome, lead-weight night.
Shashwati

photos © Copyright 2010 by ANGUS LEUNG

poster by ANGUS LEUNG

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