See the moshing before us bowing down to the heavier side of music …and so it was onto our 9th Heavy night, back at The Live House <–with their wonderfully patient staff & sound guys who were INTO the bands.
It was a top notch night with four great bands. Thanks always to The Underground team & HKGFM.net. I know I’m looking forward to Heavy 10 in 2014 😉
See you then.
love, Chris B x
Follow My Voice
1. The Mask of Insanity
2. The Journey
4. Drunk-Ass Anthem
The first Heavy show of the second part of the year featured a line-up of bands all of which were debutantes on our stage. The first of these was Follow My Voice, who had the classic lineup for heavy music – two guitars, and (in very hardcore punk fashion) a female bassist. And we found out in short order that they also had a singer who could both sing (well) and scream (also well). This wasn’t before, however, we had around two minutes of levels checks, there having been no soundcheck that night, and some problems arose. Understandable as they were, it was a tad unsettling as a way to start the show. Still, starting troubles, aside, the band moved into their set with aplomb. They have a sound that is quite typical of heavier bands from the Noughties; they scream and sing well and the guitars are fast, shreddy, yet smooth in contour. There are very anthemic-sounding, soaring guitars at times, interspersed with shorter, more headbangy bits, and the melodic nature of the tunes was constant. Pretty standard, but solid, stuff so far. 155 sounded like mid-era lostprophets, and there were shades of MCR from their second album throughout, with the Ray-Toro like guitars. They did have two points of difference from most such bands, however (or did that night at any rate). Their drummer quite often sounds like he’s from a classic rock band; the top heavy, thunk-thunk feeling of bands like Deep Purple was quite interesting to hear, set against the more polished, razor-sounding guitars, especially on The Mask of Insanity. Secondly, the band members did dance on stage, but in a very choreographed manner; the synchronized headbanging and pogoing was very Van Halen-esque, and not something one sees often. They do crossover to sounding like pop-metal quite often, especially during the non-screamy bits, and the music does get pushed aside sometimes in favour of the vocal acrobatics, during 155 in particular. However, this can be worked on with better composition, and they were quite entertaining, so a good job overall.
— Shashwati Kala
ScreamHard had an easier time beginning their set, and they jumped right into their super-heavy stuff right away. They play a mix of several very simple elements: it’s basically punky metal, the kind of music that the hardcore punk of bands like DOA inspired, or in other words: crossover thrash. There’s a very Void/Suicidal Tendencies sound to them, with the insistence of the heavy-hit drums and the torrid, scratchy, fast guitars, and of course screaming. Their sound is all about its punch, and they have plenty of it. They also have touches of the heavier side of QOTSA. I think I heard a cowbell on [Untitled], which was unexpected, and a great touch. 繁華路下 was more reminiscent of early thrash, when the bands hadn’t yet added a heavy bass layer to their music. They are wonderfully into their slightly noise-rock side, and don’t have the ‘tyranny of metal’ noodling and formulaic arrangement. They are also one of the more energetic bands that are around; from the guitarist’s rolling around on the stage, to their guitar salutes, they’re definitely into the music they’re playing. The singer and guitarist even moved out into the crowd to infect them with their energy, and it worked. People who go out looking for good heavy bands, I suspect, will find ScreamHard much to their taste. However, another thing I must mention is that their songs are very samey – and not just in the way that heavy bands’ songs are generally samey. I found it hard after their set to clearly remember which song was which, and I was paying close attention to it. Make no mistake, they are very good at what they do, and I, personally, like them a lot, but they really must work on giving their songs an aural identity to become a better band (which there is no doubt that they can become). That aside, they are a solid band, and a pleasure to listen to for the discerning metal listener.
— Shashwati Kala
2. Savage Age
3. Built to Be Last
4. Grow the Balls
5. Hero for Heroin
6. Legs of Gold
9. No Mistake
The third band on were Weeper, who were formed from the separating factions of This is Ammunition (a band that I do not make any bones about liking very much indeed). I won’t dwell on the history, for it’s not a productive use of anyone’s time, but certain aspects of Weeper were also essential elements in TIA, and I feel they’re salient enough to point out. Most obviously, the instrumental lineup is identical, so there’s a lot of continuity in terms of style. There are short riffs galore, around every corner, from guitarist Mira, and the very hardcore-punk rhythm section are solid as ever. The general style of music is in the same ballpark. Weeper, however, is a very different animal from what TIA used to be, and splitting hairs about how this is so is enlightening (and fun).
For a start the guitars have somehow gotten more intense in their texture – for most of the songs sound like guitar fury raining down ceaselessly on the ears, but in a really good way. The rhythmic, snaking riffs are not just as plentiful, but (more importantly) as good as ever. Sounding like a mix of the pummelling feel of bands like Agnostic Front and of Suicidal Tendencies, this is powerful stuff. Singer (well, let’s be honest, ‘screamer’) Danny is remarkably good at screaming, and powerfully, and this mixes with the music to sound like the band are descended from Rudimentary Peni and Fear, which is always terrific. The subject matter of the band is decidedly on the seedier side, and they have songs for/about everyone; from “hookers” to “hardcore junkies”. Okay, so perhaps not quite everyone.
Considering that this was the band’s first show in a while there weren’t any mistakes big enough to be noticed by an audience member (having said that, expectations of musicians as good as the ones in Weeper are much higher than “let’s hope they don’t fuck all of it up”). They began by sounding like they’d mixed The Strokes with Anthrax, and it only got better from there. The wonderful glammy lick at the start of Grow the Balls was particularly awesome to listen to. Legs of Gold was more in the way of a Black Sabbath song, except for the screaming. Terror had the feel of a Minor Threat song, with its light-speed feel, and the drums on their new unnamed song were super-neat. The only song during which I felt there was something off was Hero for Heroin, as I felt the arrangement wasn’t quite as smooth as it was in the other songs, and it didn’t flow the same way. But that’s barely an issue at all, and considering how fun they are to see live, it’ll barely register to the non-nitpicking listener. If you’re looking for hard-hitting punky metal music, Weeper would be a great band to start with.
(As a very minor aside, there are small portions of a couple of songs that reminded me of the Defiant Scum song Every Day is the Same. This is purely a tangential observation that I thought was funny and a point of intrigue. Completely incidental but pleasantly surprising, I thought. Don’t you?)
— Shashwati Kala
Utopian also suffered at the hands of the no-soundcheck night, as they too had a bit of dead air before they could start their set, but they compensated for it by beginning their set with a huge burst of thick, fuzzy, overpowering guitar. They were the most noodly band of the night, taking every chance they could to put a bit of a noodly guitar fill into a corner of a song, and even into the putative levels check! However, the guitarist managed to make it non-wanky, by not doing it for too long, so kudos on the restraint (relatively speaking). Their music is full of echoing guitars typically played to open a song (as on 花火 and 演繹), in the style of what remained of alt rock in the early 2000s, with edgy-feeling chords set to fast but essentially groove-less drums. They fall into the mainstream of 2000s rock, very much within the Linkin’ Park style – but better, because these guys don’t feature any rapping. They do, however, feature screaming, which is good. However, I (and some others in the crowd) felt that they reverted to a hackneyed Canto-metal style when the screaming stopped, as on 缺氧, which was not only jarring but also a little boring. The band got very into their performance and this was infectious, and good to watch. However, I dare say that the habitual listener of metal-esque music might find them prosaic and true-to-type, for they stay within the bounds of late 90s alt rock and early Noughties’ rock, and this does affect how interesting their songs are. However, they were fun to watch, and served as a good way to close the show in a headbangin’ way.
— Shashwati Kala
poster by ANGUS LEUNG
photos © Copyright 2013 by ANGUS LEUNG