Heavy 10

12-04-14

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If you were there, you will remember how Smegma Riot turned a Heavy show into a dance floor 😉 ​
What a​n awesome ​night we all had.
​Our 10th Heavy show with 3 very special bands.

​Thanks so much to The Live House for hosting our Heavy events, thanks to the crowd and the bands. The Underground Team – you guys rock as well as head bang 🙂
love Chris B xx


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​Howler

  1. 愛人.請早抖
  2. 人生時鐘
  3. 認命
  4. Fly Me to Hell

The night began with, what turned out to be, an old-school style of heavy music as Howler took the stage. They seemed to have some teething trouble as their opening levels check took a bit long (this always gets on the nerves of people who organize shows). However, the licks on offer during this time, and the vocal warm-up (in the typical lightly-operatic style that so popular here) promised some interesting songs to come. They have a style that harks back to the earlier days of rock, when thrash metal hadn’t come about, and Black Sabbath or Judas Priest were still the heaviest bands around. There’s little of the thudding shredding or low-register guitars chugging away with higher guitars playing on top of them. No, their style is closer to speed metal, but poppier, like radio-friendly Motörhead. Indeed, it sometimes seems like they’re trying to be Iron Maiden and Bruce Springsteen at the same time. Now, if you’ve read any of my reviews before, you may anticipate that I’m going to say something like the two styles pull the music in different directions, and the mix is a little unsatisfying; you’d be partially right, there is a little of that on 愛人.請早抖, which was quite Motley Crue-esque (I heard someone say “like Cantopop but louder”), and aside from being quite samey, they also had pacing problems. However, of all of the bands that try to mix several heavy styles, these guys actually did it well; moving from verse to chorus to solo didn’t have those crude signposts of “we’re going to play hardcore punk for 10 bars now!” or “watch out, here comes the breakdown bit” that I’ve often complained about. They managed to actually blend the styles well, and move smoothly from one to the other, which is quite rare, for which they deserve rich praise. That accomplished, however, they really do need to differentiate themselves from the tens of bands around that sound almost exactly like them, especially since their peppiness makes them not hit moments in songs as hard as metal bands would. Their guitarist in particular played some lovely solos – real finger-breaking, string-bendingones, lovely to listen to – but other than that their songs are not memorable yet. That said, there are some major positive things that they have going for them, and I really hope theb and capitalises on these.
— Shashwati Kala


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Shepherds the Weak

  1. Tenun Tenum
  2. Ours for the Taking
  3. I am I
  4. 6/8
  5. Black Rain
  6. Addiction
  7. Defeated & Broken

And once more, Shepherds the Weak were with us. This time one of their number, guitarist Glenn, was missing owing to his family recently having expanded by one, but they promised to “still be loud”, and I think when someone says that, you give them a chance. It’d been a while since I last saw them, and within that time they’ve released their first album, so this put them squarely in post-album territory, and all the problems that entails. Their sound hasn’t changed much; it’s still pretty much like Metallica and Primus thrown into a blender of metalcore sound (the good kind, such as there is), and every now and again they throw in an atmosphere-t dissonant part that betrays their hard rock tendencies, or a more broody Alice in Chains-like guitar solo, or even some crazy-fast and manic parts a-la Butthole Surfers. Their new songs were good omens of the direction in which they’re heading, with Tenun Tenum being a more thrashy, Anthrax-type number, and 6/8 using the uncommon time-signature to create a hard-rocky, almost grungy sound. There are of course, glorious headbangy bits galore, and I happened to notice for the first time that one of the singers…uh, screamers, Ritchie, can scream like several people at once – which is impressive. Towards the end, on songs like Addiction and Defeated & Broken, there was actually a bit of singing which while good, sort of toned down the intensity that characterises their set, and made them sound like Linkin Park or something, and they’re a much better band than that. They too had some starting troubles, but after getting catcalled by the audience to turn their guitars up things were better. There wasn’t anything notably different about their set, except perhaps some things that I might’ve read into Glenn’s absence, so kudos to the band for being so professional about things. From bringing their own sound gear to getting excellent replacements, these guys work hard and it shows in how fun they are to watch live.
— Shashwati Kala


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Smegma Riot (Italy 意大利 /China 中國)

  1. Blame the Pope
  2. Kill Your Boyfriend
  3. Fish Supper
  4. Don’t Blame the Party
  5. Manifest Destiny
  6. Real Visceralist
  7. The Night of Drunken Death
  8. Heart Quake
  9. Swallow
  10. Fiki Fiki
  11. Com’e’ Bello Lavarsi
  12. Humonety
  13. Mia mi
  14. Drill or Kill
  15. Taliban Tour
  16. Fire Fighters
  17. Karma Punk
  18. Skat Girl
  19. Spara Yuri

To close out the night we had one of the most exciting bands I’ve ever seen live. In their different-coloured neon spandex pants they’re like the Wiggles of punk. One can’t help but think that the presence of a semi-regimented uniform isn’t a coincidence, when you consider what band they most resemble; the Ramones had a sort of uniform as well, but with different t-shirts each time; so do these guys. It feels like it’s not a coincidence; these guys have a really similar primal feel in their music, just like the Ramones did. However, they don’t resemble the Ramones’ form, so much as they do their spirit; generally stripped down, heavy, fast music with little patience for solos or musical gloating in general. I read somewhere that they didn’t start out wanting to play punk, but they ended up there; that they just wanted to play some loud, fun and simple music; so did the Ramones. So, perhaps it’s the point of origin that reminds me (and nearly anyone who listens to them) of that band. Okay, I’ll try not to say ‘Ramones’ any more in this review.

Where they break off from the Ramones (ohhhh, crap) is that they’re not stripped down; they have plenty of instruments, they clearly like to play them, and they like to layer their sound. It’s fast, but the guitars, aside from being part of the ‘wall of sound’ approach, also use different tones and textures, so they create very different soundscapes with different songs. The drum style has a range between simple punk, to more hardcore punk stuff and a little bit of ska. They also do themselves major favours by having a saxophone; the fluidity and range of sound alone that a competently-played sax adds makes it a worthy addition to many types of band, and their guy is really good. The sax allows the guitar to chug away, simplifying its job, while adding variety to the sound while the main tunes stay simple. Additionally, some types of solos sound much better rendered on a sax, than on a guitar (wherein it would just sound like show-offy noodling). All of this at top speed (other than occasionally). This is punk all right.

The combination can be intoxicating; sometimes literally, as when they played a show at Xperience during Oktoberfest season (I think) that had members of the crowd smashing beer steins to their music. The atmosphere they create and the way the singer can get the crowd going by just reacting to him is remarkable, and their music is eminently danceable. Moreover, he’s one of the best people I’ve seen at really owning the stage even when he’s not singing; most people who don’t play an instrument end up looking like tools on stage when it’s not their turn to sing. Not this guy; he could give lessons (and should). All of this stuff combined, they sound something like a mix of Gogol Bordello, RKL and The Dickies. It’s street-punk without the grit. Perhaps, to borrow a turn of phrase from Gogol Bordello, it’s just “immigrant punk”. They do of course, have a couple of romantic songs as well, like Com’e’ Bello Lavarsi, which generally start of ska-like and move to a punky speed at some point into a song. In terms of this, yes, the transitions between styles are glaring, but they’re a good enough band to make even me not care about that. There were a couple of misses among their setlist, but when a band plays so many songs, I think they’re allowed a couple of underwhelming ones. In all, they’re just a great band to watch and listen to; you should do both those things as soon as you can.
— Shashwati Kala

Poster by ​Angus Leung​
Photos by Angus Leung
海報由Angus Leung。
由​Angus Leung攝影。

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