Live Review from Planetrox China Final 2018
1. Brothers in arms
2. Fight for freedom
3. False state
Loud Shaft’s performance that night definitely proved that last is not least. Formed in 2013, Hong Kong based Nepalese four-man metal band includes Alter Limbu (vox), Sajan Gurung (guitar), Binay Gurung (Bass) and Ab Gurung (Drums). By no means a newcomer to the Underground scene, they had most recently performed at Heavy #19 in March playing a mixture of original songs and Rage Against the Machine, one of their biggest influence’s, covers. However, at Planetrox, Loud Shaft clearly tried to come into their own instead of relying on their influences – no longer wearing a RATM shirt, they were instead wearing flannels and Gurkha T’s. With the rules barring covers, Loud Shaft played an entirely original set of new songs that, although were similar in content, showed the extent of their musicianship and creativity.
What was most interesting about them though was their look. With tied back long hair, cute smiles and casual clothes, it looked more like they were about to play some country songs but instead we got heavy metal, grunge, rap and screaming from both the band and the crowd. A bit shy to begin, their first song Brothers in Arms didn’t yet convince me, the band wasn’t yet warmed up and though full of energy was not as tight as they could have been. However, by their second song Fight For Freedom, the only song they’ve recorded and released on Youtube, they had warmed up and was playing like the band that would eventually win Planetrox. Aggressive and driving, Fight for Freedom featured a tight performance and great interplay between the guitar and bass. By their third song False State, the crowd was wilder than they had been all evening.
The most interesting performer in the band was undoubtedly the singer, Alter Limbu, who sang entirely in falsetto. Though originally unsure about this choice of voice with the genre of metal, I was blown away by how well he managed to make it work. Limbu’s unique vocal texture was almost a croon but with a strong rhythm, edge (think of a combination between Frank Sinatra and Zack de la Rocha) and the ability to do screamo. A very different voice to say the least.
What is most amazing about Loud Shaft though was not their performance that night, but the clear space they still had to grow. Already a tight, innovative and unique band, they were always a strong contender for me not because they were great, but because they could be better. Though the performance was memorable, perhaps it was just their set list but the songs seem to all be similar blend. Also, despite having praised Alter on his singing, there were still moments where he could have improved – his jumps from falsetto into chest voice didn’t always hit the right tone or the right pitch but when they did, the performance was amazing. The largest space to grow though is in their character as a band, when forced to improvise some stage banter due to a rogue dancer knocking over a ride cymbal, it became clear that the band’s interaction with the audience has leaps and bounds to go.
Having said all that, I cannot wait to see their next performance and hope that their time in Canada will perfect their act. Congratulations again to Loud Shaft, winners of Planetrox China 2018!
– Cyril Ma
Live Review from Heavy #19
1. Brothers in Arms
2. Fight for Freedom
3. Bullet in the Head (Rage Against the Machine cover)
4. False State
5. Blind (Korn cover)
7. Killing in the Name (Rage Against the Machine cover)
What second act Loud Shaft lacked in originality, they made up for with personality and execution in their tight and characterful performance. Bassist Gurung Binay kicked in with a mad groove on opener Brothers in Arms, while charismatic frontman Limbu Sisir’s voice alternated between Cobain’s nasally drone during choruses and Zack de la Rocha’s snappy rap style during verses.
The band wore their influences on their sleeve – literally: the singer wore a Rage Against The Machine T shirt, and they also sprinkled two of the band’s covers into their seven-song set. On Bullet in the Head, guitarist Gurung Sajan made clever use of his pick-up switch, flicking it on and off to create an unusual harmonica-like sound – very Tom Morello – alongside Binay’s simple, sluggish, snaking bass. Their originals, too, had a strong RATM flavour – Fight for Freedom recalled Renegades of Funk, while new song Rebel made use of a barrelling riff and a rapid wah-pedal solo.
Both guitarist and bassist each had a serious set of pedals – at least eight apiece – allowing them to manipulate their instruments through a carousel of distorted effects. Meanwhile, cool cat drummer Gurung Abiskar provided a solid, effortless backbone, while often disappearing behind a cloud of hair as he headbanged. The noise coming from Sajan’s guitar made it hard to believe there was only one guitarist on stage – his sound verged on thrash metal at times, particularly on False State (dedicated to Donald Trump) when paired with a blistering roar from the singer.
Riding high on the spine-tingling energy of their set, the band sneaked in another cover to close the show: a sped-up version of the classic Killing in the Name, delivered with all the vitriol of the original. An electrifying performance from a relatively new band on the scene.
– El Jay