What a great night of bands at Heavy 14! We love transforming Orange Peel into a mosh pit of metal lovers 🙂 Huge love to the audience who keeps coming back, and to Carr for mixing the sound so well. Thanks to the various members of The Underground team, your help is so much appreciated. Thanks To Jack Daniels & Singha Beer for keeping the audience refreshed. 星期四Heavy 14實在太多好聽嘅樂隊啦！我哋亦都可enjoy將Orange Peel化身成為重金屬音樂地帶！好感謝一路支持我哋嘅觀眾，同埋Carr為大家帶黎好好聽嘅聲浪！The Underground一眾幫手實在太體貼！最多謝就係Singha 同Jack Daniels為大家帶黎無盡嘅飲品！
love Chris B xx
2. Perfect world
3. Until The End
5. Again And Again
There was a pleasing cyclical nature to Last Digits’ Heavy #14 performance: last time they played the Underground was at last November’s Songs Without Words show. That night, they eschewed lead singer Edmond Chin for a dive into a post-rock-meets-post-hardcore sound. The result was a brooding diversion into meditative, almost sludge rock territory. With Edmond back on board, the band was restored to its usual early-noughties aesthetic, paying tribute to alt-rockers Taking Back Sunday, Alexisonfire and Linkin Park.
Even with Edmond at the helm, bassist Mann’s inventive, fuzzy, bass noodling shone alongside Kelvin Lee’s staccato fretwork. The dexterous guitarist gave the impression he could rip loose and pull off something a lot more intricate, but chose to keep it tight with mostly down-tuned riffing and the occasional high-pitched solo embellishment.
Edmond’s between-song monologues went on a little too long for the first band of the night, yet his hoarse shouts through Perfect World and Tameless had all the emotional venom of Chiodos’ Craig Owens. He explained Until The End was a song about sticking together as a band, despite whatever changes or challenges life throws at them. Though it would have been good to hear Stay It Strong performed with the lead singer at the helm, Last Digits proved an accomplished first act of the night, kicking off a diverse line-up with a riff-heavy set.
– El Jay
There are some that would argue local metal king’s 逆流 NiLiu deserved a headline billing at a Heavy show, but the rockers threw themselves into the second slot with the same indefatigable attitude that has earned them 6,000 Facebook fans. Considered by many to be one of the city’s top metal acts, the formidable band usually rehearses and performs live around the punk hub of Kwun Tong. At their first Underground show, they brought a delicious sense of evil to a busy LKF gig, and their no-mess approach made everyone in the room tune in and headbang.
After an eerie electronic opening track, NiLiu blasted into 皇, a simple song of dark, low rhythms and bass-heavy drumming. Singer Kit Lo’s vocals alternated between impressively operatic melodies and sinister growls, with the occasional gurgling rooster crow thrown in to keep things mean-sounding.
King and Hala’s guitars creaked and groaned for 留離破, an incensed metalcore breakdown recalling Killswitch Engage, before the band’s piece-de-resistance – the eight minute-long 落花 brought fierce growling, powerful vocal hooks and distorted guitarwork, culminating in a raw, bellowed refrain. Speedy, snare-driven rhythms and dramatic, swooping guitar landscapes of 殘樓 closed the set with Kit’s voice ragged and doom-filled. A brutal, break-neck, fist-pumping finale from the night’s heaviest act.
– El Jay
1. North to North
2. Sucks To Be U
3. Pills (Slow)
4. Follow The Steps
5. I Don’t Care
6. Red Rings
After Weeper was forced to pull out of Heavy #14, they nominated chums Bang City to fill the event’s third billing. While the band they replaced are known for their brutal live performances, Bang City and their more emo/alternative sound had to try to entertain an audience of metallers. “We’ll try to be as heavy as possible,” said lead singer Greg Farrell to any punters fearing their eardrums might not get quite the desired beating.
With a post-hardcore sound harking back to the raw roots of Brand New and Modest Mouse, and songwriting drawing upon the heartfelt, kitchen sink meanderings of The Front Bottoms and Modern Baseball, Bang City’s songs played out like a teenager’s diary – filled with longing and observational humour. Meanwhile, Farrell’s idiosyncratic performing style fell somewhere between a histrionic housewife and a toddler tantrum. Wide-eyed and barking into the mic, he led into the show with North To North, a fast melee of punk guitar, crashing drums and rumbling bass from new member Jared.
“We like to joke this one’s off the Clueless soundtrack,” Farrell said, introducing Sucks To Be U. After wearing himself out jumping to the song’s ’90s throwback guitar, he introduced Pills as “a slow song”, performed like an evangelic sermon over angsty Get Up Kids music. Frustrated, uneasy guitar defined Follow The Steps, while its lyrics played out like half of an argument heard through the walls. Loud closer Red Rings was the loud, upbeat finish that won the room’s everlasting seal of approval in a diverse night of rock.
– El Jay
2. Collision Vector
3. Trial By Li-Bat
4. Nothing Is Everything (Death cover)
5. Mineral (Atheist cover)
6. Loyal Shadow (Soilwork cover)
9. Point of Contact
10. Solo Segment
11. Disintegration (Edge of Sanity cover)
Mineral (Atheist cover)
For the most part, technicality reigns in progressive metal, and as such it was hard to find a flaw in Omicron’s final show. From the sludgy prelude that wound us into opening track ‘Dreadcore’ to a repeat of Atheist’s ‘Mineral’ as a much demanded encore, the four-piece led Orange Peel through a lengthy set of complex compositions and sparkling covers.
The players’ dexterity became clear within moments of ‘Dreadcore’, but only as it morphed into ‘Collision Vector’ was it felt that Omicron was taking us on a journey. Alex Bedwell’s right foot flitted like a hummingbird against the bass pedal, bass drum burning with friction and the accompaniment of Li Heng Chan’s swift fingers. ‘Collision Vector’ tears between upper registers and grumbling bass riffs, each guitar solo executed more perfectly than the one before. Li Heng’s chaotic, wanting guitar slides are the final element in a fantastically complex composition, which on this night attracted a tsunami of whooping and applause from the audience.
Symbionts at work, Omicron is clearly a band that has learned from, bettered amongst, and thrived off each other. If a bit crowd-shy, there’s something alluring in their stage personae: Adam Robertshaw sways over his headstock-less synth guitar; Li Heng’s nimble fingers seem to teleport; Tyler Yeung sticks to a power stance over his keys; and Bedwell tosses his head in deep concentration. Their capacity to effortlessly render complex time signature changes and polyrhythms is nothing short of virtuosic. Indeed, it is Bedwell who leads the pack in this, playing with jazz cymbals, presque-Pop rim clicks and primitive tom rolls.
Whether or not it was because this was their last show together, parts of the set seemed unquestionably personal. In ‘Fail’, the audience found itself lost in a disjunct guitar riff, finding our feet in the rocky bass and a wilted, saxophonic riff. By far the most introverted track, it felt as though Omicron was jamming; four musicians with very few limitations, inviting us into their creative process.
A highlight was ‘Point of Contact’, which boasts a funky, muted guitar and bass intro, before exploding in full force. This was one of the more optimistic, anthemic sounding tracks as the set reached its climax. Almost like a lovechild of Ratatat and Liquid Tension Experiment, the track plays with elaborate polyrhythms, power 5ths in the guitars, drum and bass interludes, ambient synthscapes and impressive unanimity. An almost comedic bass slide brought the track to a faux ending, before the audience’s dazzled applause was interrupted by a gargantuan, cymbal-clad finale.
A sensitivity to dynamics separates Omicron from many aspiring bands in progressive metal. Ultimately it was in their more restrained moments that we had the chance to process the sheer power of their sound. ‘Criticaster’, grounded on a 4/4 beat that purposefully trips over itself, forms fully when Tyler’s cosmic synth meets Li Heng’s slow and pleading guitar solo. As the performance curve approached full circle, Tyler performed an Eno-esque ‘Solo Segment’, accompanied by a laser-like solo by Li Heng. Here the audience was able to reflect and prepare themselves for the final climb – which came in the form of a stunning rendition of ‘Disintegration’ by Edge of Sanity.
Surely one of the brightest flames in Hong Kong’s metal scene, Omicron will be sorely missed as Bedwell flies home to the UK. While his drumming was certainly a highlight of the performance, there’s no doubt Robertshaw, Yeung and Chan will be highly in demand from this point on. Truly first class players in one of the trickiest genres to master, each moment of Omicron’s set was a privilege to witness.
– Jules O’Brien
Photos by Angus Leung.
Poster by Ryan Chiu.