ProgMetalMadness 2

On 25th February your intrepid Never Say No To Metal correspondent made a trip to the hitherto uncharted New Cross Inn for an afternoon evening of “Fringe Metal styles”. And fair fucks to the organisers for evening getting the day on because, between initially promoting the day and the day itself, a full half of the bill had been replaced due to bands dropping out. But the campaign for metal domination cannot be stopped and so, on the show went.

Well I’d Quella to meet ya…

… but I couldn’t because I was still hightailing it across London having just returned from Devon. I’m a big fan of Quella’s one song on Spotify though “Slow Sabbath” which has all the stoner/desert rock vibe which that title implies, but strangely for the genre is to the point, clocking in at 2:33. Keen to hear more.

Trapped in a Crevassian

I managed to catch most of Crevassian’s set while I got down my hair of the dog following a heavy night of Branoc in the Fountain Head. The four piece play ambient post rock that brings to mind the Russian Circles of the world which were a big part of my uni exam revision routine, but with the difference that this band is really all about their fabulous 5-string slinging bass player. He took centre stage, driving the narrative of the tracks flanked by the two guitarists providing the textured noise canvas. They didn’t seem the most comfortable on stage, focussing instead on the music but it all came together rather beautifully and their two tracks on Spotify definitely hold up to repeat listens. A brief word with a guitarist revealed that there will be line-up changes but I look forward to seeing what comes next.

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Opensight – An Englishman, an Italian and a Columbian walk into a pub…

Multinational rockers Opensight were one of the surprise packages of the day for me. Guitarist Genia Penksik soundchecked playing Jimi Hendrix, with full psychedelic guitar tones, setting my expectations but when they kicked off the band played together with much more hard rock stomp. The Basswatch(TM) stakes were raised by bassist Danni Stanner distinctly niche 6 string fretless variant which was used to full effect throughout with wonderfully clean slides.

I’ve had a bit of a headache trying to think how to describe the sound of Opensight but in their own words, “With roots in Heavy Metal’s most melodic and dynamic moments, Opensight draws inspiration from diverse musical genres, combining the energy of Metal, the sophistication of Progressive Rock and the dramatic edge of Film Music” which seems as good a description as any.

Towards the end they broke into “The Chase” which goes full on Shaft Theme funk but then overlaid with sinister verses, bombastic choruses and then full on rock-out. Singer/guitarist Ivan David led proceedings with passion, they clearly love what they do and have a lot to offer. Also resulted in the days first merch purch20180225_171002

They must like origami… As Everything Unfolds

One of the bands I was reasonably well acquainted with going into ProgMetalMadness, following a feature on them in Metal Hammer last year. I was definitely looking forward to seeing what they could do and they didn’t disappoint, I think they were the youngest band of the day but they had all the energy confidence to go with it. Although by this stage Basswatch was expecting a 7-string bass to appear. Mildly disappointment followed when George Hunt appeared with a mere 4, not even fretless, poor show.

Vocalist Charlie Rolfe was in full on Schrodinger’s Cat mode, seemingly simultaneously running on the spot on stage, screaming to the heavens and doing laps of the venue. She completely dominated the small space and has a face-meltingly good voice, with soaring early Paramore-esque vocal lines interspersed with screams that give Justine from Employed to Serve a run for her money. The band back this up with an electronic backdrop and heavy djenty guitars that play around Charlie’s vocals rather than fighting against her and the effect is to accentuate her talents. They have some great breakdowns as well. “Bright Lights” was my favourite song, but they trailed a new song which was much more hard rock and sounded huge. News of recording new material is most welcome and I look forward to catching them again in a month at the Scream Lounge, I rewarded myself with a second t-shirt of the day.

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Core of Io but never skip legs day

Core of Io rocked up missing a singer/guitarist and promptly obliterated the place as a three piece. It was unbelievable. The drummer was like a cross between John Bonham and an octopus and displayed all the limb independence that that implies. I was amazed he didn’t smash the drums through the floor. The bassist (with a fretted 6-string) appeared to be on a one man mission to use all of the days quota of notes so that there were none left for anyone else, while the guitarist strung it all together.

Frankly I’ve no idea where another guitar or vocalist would have fit into that complete bedlam. I’ve no idea if they upped the mayhem because they were a man down or they always play like that but for fans of progressive metal in the vein of Sikth they are unmissable. Go listen now and have your ears laid to waste.

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Courgettes are the devil but Flies Are Spies From Hell

FASFH are the sort of band I would have loved 10 years ago in my post-rock phase but after Core of Io I was pretty stunned. And also a few pints in. The contrast between the bands left FASFH looking stationary as they carefully crafted their slowburning, intricate soundscapes, following the djent maelstrom that preceded them. It took me a couple of songs to readjust to the FASFH sound and tempo, but when I did they were great and the addition of a talented keyboard player to the day was a welcome change up.

I think potentially I would have got a bit bored if both guitarist didn’t seem to be about to burst into tears as they built their songs to the zeniths, but it was hard to argue with the emotion on display. When the payoff from the build up did come, they reacted with what looked like full on nervous breakdowns. It must be exhausting if they play every gig like that. Even so it made for a compelling show.

Arcaeon the Everchosen

Arcaeon are the band from day I’ve had the most trouble with. Listening to them beforehand I kind of liked the music but got quite irritated by some of the meandering guitar noodling and the lyricist’s penchant for rhyming couplets, triplets and quadruplets at every opportunity.

And it wasn’t really their day  either. The sound mix was all wrong, the bass and drums created a wall of noise that rendered the twin noodling guitars completely inaudible and left the vocalist as effective as someone screaming at you from 150 yards away through a gale. Also I’d just gone to get chips and was in a mild food coma and the band didn’t quite have enough of a stage presence to re-engage my attention. And yet…

…they are the band I have gone back to the most since Sunday. They’re latest release “Balance” has some genuinely brilliant moments hitting some of the things that make a band like Erra so great, but with their own unique stamp. They are at their best when the lyrics move away from some of the simplistic couplets giving William Young a chance to do something a bit more interesting. The music peaks when the guitarists work to build some brilliantly hooky backing textures and break out into soaring guitar solos on tracks like “Mind’s Eye” rather than fret-wanking like a random aural firework. They also have some decent breakdowns. It feels like they’re 95% of the way to something genuinely brilliant if they could apply their talents a bit more consistently. Probably the band I’m most interested to see where things go next with.

Set up the Defences but don’t drop the drum

I have a huge crush on Defences as a band having seen them at Facedown a few months ago. I love their relentless positivity in a metalcore genre so focused on misery and aggression. I love their huge choruses and I love that they absolutely bring it for every show. They’re music is hooky as hell with almost pop choruses, but there is just enough crush from the band and the screaming backing vocals to keep it grounded.

They’re also the band that on the night brought the slickest showmanship, with vocalist Cherry consistently involving the crowd, and a slightly gimmicky section with both guitarists on light up drums (which Ian definitely didn’t drop of the stage). I was losing my shit throughout. They didn’t even play my favourite song of theirs “The Takeoff”, instead “Might and Main” was the standout moment of the night. A third merch stop was definitely necessary, if only because I needed to change t-shirt. (Editor’s Note: Ian is a babe).

Deadly Circus Fire engulfs small pub in New Cross

With Barrabus a last minute no show due to illness, DCF (discounted cash flows?) new vocalist Adam Pears boldly proclaimed at the start of the set “You will be entertained”. Well he wasn’t wrong. His look, like Andrew W.K. but with fabulously conditioner hair and without the nosebleed, was a great starting point.

What followed was one of the most eccentric displays of frontmanship I’ve seen with Adam variously playing dead on the stage, screaming on his knees, climbing across tables and stools, and stuck in one place because the bassist was standing on his microphone cable. The band nonchalantly carried on about their business, playing their mix of groovy prog metal and let him get on with it. What made it all the madder was that the curse of the sound mix returned, with Adam screaming into the squally soundwall oblivion. But whereas this held Arcaeon back, this only seemed to lay down the gauntlet for Adam to go completely batshit.

I loved it. Shout out in particular to “House of Plagues”, for me the stand out track, with an absolutely insane, almost nu-metal, groove. NSNTM’s editor had joined by this stage and was left thoroughly hot and flustered by it all.

Left In Search of Sun for 20 minutes

The final band of the night started late because they were fucking about with their backing track, prompting much irritation from me, many pints in after a long day and keen for more tunes before having to run for the Overground. Although the bassist warming up with a Tool intro softened my mood slightly.

Well it was worth the wait for the 4 songs we did catch because In Search of Sun made it clear why they were headlining. I had pegged them as a kind of light, almost tech rock band with their slightly offbeat songs. On the night though it played as pure funk, with the only sensible reaction being to shake your limbs and boogaloo til you puked. “In The Garden” was the perfect example of this but with added huge chorus. Once going, the band all played with huge smiles on their faces and bags of personality making it a great end to a great day.

Comfortably the best £8 I’ve ever spent. Can’t wait for the next one.

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