Tag: new

GIG REVIEW – AS IT IS – 28/11/18 MANCHESTER

As It Is are lined up to play their biggest Manchester show to date – headlining the O2 Ritz. Moving from a pop-punk happiness to a much darker ’emo’ style, it’s safe to say a happy-go-lucky bubblegum pop atmosphere was not to be achieved.
While the band have been around for years, Canadian synth-rock Courage My Love (6.5) supporting large shows on the scale of the Ritz isn’t their forte yet. First on, the struggled to form a connection with a crowd of unresponsive attendees and despite Mercedes’s beautiful vocals and attempts, little could be done to capture a crowd. Through no fault of their own, perhaps it was just a tough crowd. The trio are excellent performers, aside from a slight sound issue causing the bass to smother the guitars, they are indeed a very tight band musically. Unfortunately, this just wasn’t their night.
 
Don’t be surprised when we say Holding Absence (9) are one of the bands on the cusp of breaking out in 2019. Already building a reputation in the scene, the quintet embodied a heavier side of music fans were perhaps not expecting. Instantaneous energy and brilliant stage presence, there was no holding back even in slower tracks ‘Everything’. Musicality was on point as well as stage presence and audience connectivity. If one point was to be made, perhaps more on-stage connection between band members, but otherwise this is a band you will hear a lot about soon.
 
Finally, after embarking on their first UK tour by As It Is in 2015, Trash Boat (7.5) return as supports once again. Generating the largest crowd of fans in the audience, the participation and enjoyment from crowdsurfing fanatics and mosh pit enthusiasts was through the roof. Yet, the bands performance seemed to lack. After witnessing the performance previous runners Holding Absence gave, there was a lacking stage atmosphere. Undoubtedly, the outfit were strong musically, but there was little to make them stand out, little to push them out to those unaware of who they were. An improvement they can work on.
 
Edinburgh’s show turned out to be quite the disaster. Sets being cut short and violent security, As It Is (9) we’re clearly unamused by the events of the previous night. Yet, with a day off before Manchester, the band had recouped to give it their all for this show, notably the biggest performance to date in Manchester.
 
Building a bridge with an audience is fundamental for any live show, and such levels of doing so can easily be seen. Patrick Foley on drums, we will give a pass to. Spending a good half of the show hidden behind a smoke screen (despite a higher platform) its also not easy to give much interaction from so far at the back. What can be said however, is that it can be rather embarrassing when your touring guitarist Ronnie interacts more with the audience than some of the others. Older tracks dug out from the discography ‘No Way Out’ and ‘Can’t Save Myself’ saw lead vocalist Patty Walters moving across the stage singing to front. Yet, it did feel connectivity from bassist Ali Testo lacked majorly in comparison. Granted, it is hard to multitask with instruments and backing vocals, but if guitar/vocalist Ben Langford-Biss can do it, what is the excuse?
 
Harshness aside, an onstage connection between the band could be felt. It’s clear these tracks mean a lot to the group. One of the more emotional connections came mid-way through a the set, slowing down the pace with ‘The Question, The Answer’ and ‘Still Remembering’. Looking in-depth it is almost as if there is a small shift in the emotion of Walters, between gaps going up to fellow band mates mouthing the words ‘I fucking love you’. To see songs played so much still striking deep in the performers is a sight that is heart-warming, as well as showing the depth the band encapsulate in music. A song, perhaps unexpected in the set was ‘The Great Depression’s’ closing track ‘The End’. As a conceptual stage show, voiceovers and formulated colour schemes added to the atmospheric feel. As It Is had an idea for this stage show, but at time almost felt like they were holding back. Going full out could really skyrocket this show, perhaps a thought for their upcoming American show. Aside from a slight timing issue on the spoken word bridge of the closing track, a clever way to end the show.
 
But it’s the performance in the encore of previous and new singles saw energy ramp up ten-fold, something incredible from a band already giving a high percentage of their energy in the show. Ending on ‘Dial Tones’, ‘The Wounded World’ and ‘The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry) pushed a strong end to the show. This group know how to structure a set. Even to the last minute all was given, with ‘The Stigma’ perhaps gaining the largest reaction of fans.
 
As It Is are pushing an important message in their music. To see a room of 1000+ people of all ages singing back such meaningful lyrics and embracing who they are is a beautiful sight. Such connections in the scene may be depleting but shows like this prove that there are still sparks in the darkness.
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DIVENIRE – WONDERLAND – REVIEW

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How many bands have you heard of from Stoke-On-Trent? The answer is probably few. This is about to change. Divenire are setting themselves a platform, releasing their debut EP ‘Wonderland’ to an audience of new listeners. Presenting themselves as ‘Goosebump inducing, emotionally powerful indie rock’, how far do the 4-piece live up to this expectation?
As far as emotional conveyance in the EP, ‘Captain of The Sea’ is an immensely strong contender. Storytelling is a side to Divenire merely scratched upon in single ‘Caravan’, but never truly delved into now. Weaving ambient guitars with echoic waves of backing vocals, the heart-wrenching story of a man and his fatal love and longing for the sea comes to life. Yet, if one issue is to be pointed out with the release, it is with the sound of the tracks. The depth is somewhat lost by the track’s compression, losing some of the layering. ‘S.I.A.R’ showing this issue the most and while not a major issue, is something to learn from.
Simplicity is a factor found in the EP, with ‘Old Oak Tree’ presenting what on the outside looks to be a simple backing. Simple drum patterns with repeating guitar leads graze the tracks outer layers. Yet, blend these separate components together and the track almost gives off an ambiance of colour. A talent emerging through this EP is the bands ability to balance simplicity and complexity. Presenting this in a way that doesn’t form a neutral middle-ground, but instead juxtaposes one another through each track. Take ‘Mercy’, a slow-burn bonus track with an opening simplicity, emerging into a layered, complex track in its prime. Like most tracks, the soft tones veiled in the undertones of the EP build the atmosphere around Wonderland release. Surrounded in what should be aura of sadness, the EP’s title track still offers an upbeat musical style in its chorus. But still adding a sub-conscious sadness in its depth.
Divenire have produced their own ‘Wonderland’ of storytelling, emotion and truth. There are improvements , but there are for any release. A relaxing listen with substance there should you wish to find it.
Rating: 9/10
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BRING ME THE HORIZON’S SUICIDE SEASON 10 YEARS ON

Bring Me The Horizon were a band nobody took seriously, possibly until the release of legendary breakthrough record ‘Sempiternal’ (2013). Even to this day it is currently debated as to whether they can be classed as a ‘proper band’, or simply a joke within the metalcore scene (especially regarding their newest albums). Back in 2008, September 29th to be specific, Bring Me The Horizon released the album that would help them bridge the gap in their style and rise up the ladder to become better known and one day respected in the metal scene: ‘Suicide Season’.

Seen as a slightly vulgar and repulsive title and artwork, this possibly embodies what the band were after, they didn’t want something that would saturate an already oversaturated rock market, as proven by previous releases. Instead, it appears they longed something that was serious, but still them as they perceived themselves, something that defined them. Receiving both critical appraise and dislike, the group were praised for their instrumental upkeep and development but harshly criticised for “cheap” (Ryan Williams, Thrash Hits) lyricism and shouting vocals opposed to the range Sykes presented in predecessor ‘Count Your Blessings’. Stepping up their professionalism, the group travelled to the lonely Swedish village of Arboga, away from the bustling streets of Birmingham where they previously recorded. However, an unshakable negatively skewed perception meant even producer Fredrik Nordstrom had his pre-perceived doubts from CYB leaving the group mainly to their own devices, but was then initially shocked by the music they had recorded halfway through the SS process. Perhaps this is where the change truly began for the band as they alone created a record they wished to release. With a more positive response, the group also went on to devise ‘Suicide Season: Cut Up’, a variation of remixes of the original tracks for a more electronic feel.

Truly the album is questionable at times, ‘The Football Season Is Over’ is… well the embodiment of the young ‘adults’ the then 5-piece line-up once were (as well as including an interesting feature from JJ Peters of Deez Nuts). The lyricism of the band is also… questionable at times to say the least. Infamously, Sykes beautifully exploits a sample of such in ‘No Need for Introductions, I’ve Heard About Girls Like You on The Back of Toilet Doors’. ‘After everything you put me through, I should have fucking pissed on you’ – the truthful, beautifully poetic lyricism from frontman Oli Sykes that, to this day remains a reminder of just why the band moved on and improved (thankfully for the better). Yet, through this time trouble was never stray, from on-stage fights to lawsuits, there was the potential such negative press could launch the outfit further than their albums ever could. A negative effect on the band meant even less respect was paid to them, a refusal for acceptance and indiscriminate judgement still present to this day.

In total, three single releases were pulled out from this release: ‘Diamonds Aren’t Forever’, ‘The Sadness Will Never End (Featuring Sam Carter of Architects)’ and most recognisable single ‘Chelsea Smile’. ‘Diamonds Aren’t Forever’ is the dusty forgotten track from the trio, a track once good in its prime but one that inevitably fades into the rest of the album. Alternatively, ‘Chelsea Smile’ resonated so well with fans and the band, that the single is the oldest track the band will play live, even skipping tracks from ‘There Is A Hell’. With an intrepid breakdown and emotionally resonating bridge, it’s completely understandable why the melodic evolution of this track still stands so strong amongst fans and the band themselves. Once again, ‘The Sadness Will Never End’ features the same powerfully impassioned lyrics intertwined in Sam Carters clean vocal style showing Bring Me had the potential bubbling away, but were perhaps held back by alcohol, drugs and further personal issues, later to be admitted to the public.

The albums title track however, is possibly one of the most underrated tracks in all Bring Me The Horizon’s discography. An intensely raw lyricism intertwined with vulnerability and truths is what makes this undoubtably the most beautiful track on the record. Both heavy and ballad-like, it is here we see the heartfelt instrumentals pave a way through the track, a feature that becomes predominant in the groups following release ‘There Is A Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It, There Is A Heaven, Lets Keep It A Secret’. ‘If only sorrow could build a staircase, our tears could show the way’, a desolate, melancholic line that proves there is a sense of seriousness to the group. Shown in its entirety then – perhaps now, but now is ever present (at least most of the time).

Here’s the verdict, is ‘Suicide Season’ Bring Me’s best album? Not even close. However, it’s a part of their transition, an important timeframe of their development to becoming the more polished, professional (well… still questionable) and the ‘no fucks given’ band they are today. Look at the group now and they’re almost unrecognisable from who they were ten years ago, but this album is still an important part of their history that shouldn’t be forgotten.

AS IT IS DROP CHILLING NEW VIDEO FOR ‘THE REAPER’

Halloween is upon us and with it comes As It Is’ spectacular horrifying video for ‘The Reaper’ (Featuring Aaron Gillespie).

Directed by Zak Pinchin, the creepy melancholic atmosphere of the story and cinematography not only brings the track to life, but also brings a great twist to Halloween this evening. Speaking of the video, Ben Langford-Biss says, “The Reaper is the moment in the record’s narrative where The Poet becomes so desensitised to the concept of death, that death appears and manifests before him, offering an “escape”- not in a malicious way, but as a means of release from the pain The Poet is feeling. It was one of the most crucial and challenging moments in the narrative, and it was the last one that came together – lyrically and musically. 

To confer these themes of turmoil and conflict, the sort of inner claustrophobia The Poet is experiencing, we wanted the video to be gritty and dark. We ended up taking visual influence from some of our favourite horror movies and TV series, and our director Zak Pinchin really clicked with what we were trying to get across. 

The video shows each of us waking up trapped in rooms, each room representing one of the four stages of grief that the record is chaptered into; denial, anger, bargaining & acceptance. Each of us faces off with death in some respect, whether that be in a literal or metaphysical sense, and there is an external antagonist controlling the events in the rooms – forcing us to face our fears, our grief, or even ourselves.  We were super excited that Aaron Gillespie was able to be a part of the video, to play the part of this puppeteer / antagonist! 

Both the song and the video are so different to anything we’ve done before, and we’re so fortunate that our fans have embraced the darker and heavier side of our band & our constant desire to progress in new directions. And we just cannot wait to finally bring this album to life on stage when we finally start touring The Great Depression era this week: first in Japan, and then in Europe and UK  (which culminates in our biggest headline show to date at the London Forum on December 1), and then we’ll be returning to the US in early 2019 for our first time since Warped Tour! There’s so much more to come from this chapter of our band, we are only just getting started

As if the bands US tour announcement wasn’t enough! Check out the new video and tour dates below!

https://youtu.be/tG6_BxTTAwA

UPCOMING BANDS – IDLE HOURS

Having only officially released just three tracks on the market, Idle Hours are making their way through the Manchester indie music scene, building their way up to the surrounding areas.

A key aspect of Manchester, is that you’ll never fail to find the uprising indie talent in each corner, one of which is Idle Hours. The four piece outfit formed of Jack Waldron (Vocals, Guitar), Alex Needham (Bass), Tom Ashton (Guitar, Backing Vocals) and Jimmy Brown (Drums) are described as a blend of surf-pop, infused with tinges of indie rock, catchy melodies and impactful lyricism. Meeting at University and forming in 2017, the band released their debut ‘Powder White’ in April this year influenced by the likes of Blur, Artic Monkeys and Bloc Party.

https://youtu.be/mSL3pwP05JA

Soon after releasing second single ‘TV Crush’ in May, the group band added to their live performance list playing venues along the likes of Zombie Shack and Jimmy’s whilst also venturing out to Liverpool. As a band also shortlisted for the opportunity to play Truck Festival, it’s no surprise the quartet have played headliners at Music events such as Friday Night Live and Indie Week.

https://youtu.be/2aUEeqbh3sM

Now releasing third official surf-pop single ‘Happiest Place On Earth’, the band are set to support Deco at Gulivers this Saturday (3rd November). If upcoming indie deviations are to your taste, take a look at Idle Hours for your next indie playlist addition.

https://youtu.be/EB96L4EWwWw

TRACK OF THE WEEK 28/10/18- IMMINENCE – PARALYZED

This weeks track of the week goes to Swedish post-hardcore four piece Imminence.

After a slight lineup change and a distinctive switch in musical styles, Paralyzed embodies the bands new direction, a path they aim to head down. Mixing elements of debut ‘Return To Helios’ and fan-favourite single ‘The Sickness’. A far step from ‘This Is Goodbye’ but still containing their signature styles and Architects-style influences. A track (and video) to hear now!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HKRfKeVS78&feature=share

https://open.spotify.com/track/3vCHQhRlQTflUbMzQn6HZe?si=gJaAO4zgQ4u6J4Qm_FbAcw

INTERVIEW – HARMED

12:30 interview with Harmed at the Star and Garter. Easy enough unless you moved to Manchester less than three weeks ago and couldn’t tell your way to the local Sainsbury’s and back. It’s times like these where punctuality is a virtue, getting to the venue at 12 (as well as the band themselves) only to find the venue doesn’t open till 4. Times like these, you also learn to improvise with a nice coffee shop setting, that is until you have to guide 7 people to the Arndale Centre in search of food. Having no sense of Manchester’s direction helping lead 7 others who have never been to Manchester around is certainly a story for the books. Nothing stressful at all, especially when you lose the bands vocalist Levente in Affleck’s .Stopping off at a drab McDonalds around Piccadilly Gardens, sitting in the lower levels surrounded by busy adults and screaming children with 10 year old pop-hits loudly blasting over the speakers, this is more than a casual setting for an interview, but improvisation is a road we all must head down occasionally.

https://youtu.be/FYfWnrnoVws

In the end the group whittled down to me, Levente (Vocals), Gabor (Guitar), Steve (Bass) and photographer James Barbosa sitting in a rather tight booth. Welcome to England. However, with Harmed living and growing as a band in Hungary, its learning from the stories of European bands just how difficult it can be to breakout as a band, as well as the culture shock in different countries. Following on from Levente’s slight confusion of the UK McDonalds queueing system, the difficulties of touring the UK also came to light. ‘Obviously money is an issue while on tour especially for us Hungarians cause for our Hungarian pocket England is super expensive. You pay £4 for a beer here in Hungary an expensive beer is just £2’, somewhat bringing a short introduction to the strange exchange rates of the UK. Thanks capitalism! Yet, while the UK obviously encompasses some similarities of Hungary, each city has something different to offer. Every corner of Manchester has some hidden musical experience in the underground venues, even to the buskers in Piccadilly Gardens, but it’s the different ways this is portrayed in other cities that truly got the trios thoughts going, especially from Levente. We played with a few cool bands in Brighton. We arrived at the venue and there was a 5-piece girl band, kind of punk-ish, like wow this is cool! Brighton is a place that resonated through the band, something that really left an impression on the group as a place not just of seaside’s, piers and overpriced food, but of musical expression and culture. ‘everyone looked so happy and didn’t really care about things. The artistic expression and what they do in that town is just crazy.’

Yet another interesting thing about our conversation in a cosy corner at the lower level of McDonalds, is the lack of any language barriers. The UK isn’t known for any language achievements, hell we’re probably the worst for learning languages, something realised talking to people fluent in more than one tongue. In Hungary, mainstream pop artists often breakthrough with their tasteful Hungarian lyrics, which leads to an interesting topic of why Harmed decided to write in English opposed to Hungarian. As Steve explains, ‘I’ve always imagined myself playing in an English band lyrically. I never really wanted Hungarian lyrics, I still think it’s kind of weird’. There’s a debated idea as to whether you are more likely to be known in Hungary if you sing in Hungarian, an acceptable idea looking into it with a logical mindset, so why is there a divide in musical styles and languages? Like Gabor states, ‘People get into you more if you sing in Hungarian’ in which Steve follows on with the fact that ‘In the underground scene, more than half of the bands sing in English but if you wanna be more mainstream I guess it’s easier to sing in Hungarian. Even catering more to personal opinions of musical styles Levente has an input believing ‘metalcore music doesn’t really work with any other language than English. Hungarian languages are good for poetry but using it in metalcore is just weird I think,’ or at least a personal perception of that.

Even through a divide of language, there is still a connectivity of music and an understanding behind that. As a simplistic music journalist, there is little first-hand experience that one can personally give about touring, but the hidden side many fans don’t see is something quite interesting. Through the (possible) jokes Steve gives about starting to ‘hate each other slowly’, there is a connectivity between the three, even with their photographer James casually snapping the odd shot alongside us. Negatives of touring are a given, if anything the struggle of learning to cope with 7 others in a bus is a big factor. From having to guide 7 people around parts of Manchester, it is understandable how it can be a little stressful. As Steve reiterates ‘there are 8 people in a van and each person has different needs, everyone’s different and sometimes those different needs collapse’, an acceptable reasoning for losing sanity. Yet, there are such important topics such as mental health struggles people easily forget can come to light on tour. ‘I used to get anxiety attacks and one time we were playing a show and I lost almost 5 mins of time and I don’t know what happened’ as Gabor recalls, showing these are real life issues that can affect anyone and are a hidden aspect of touring. As a more humorous round-up Levente’s biggest issue is sleep. ‘The biggest problem is that you don’t have a private life here, also, you’re not getting much sleep. I don’t have creative talks I’m just like oh food, ah van, ah gas station, ah l wanna sleep ah load in. The daily stuff just eats my fucking brain’.

The thing that connects us all through any sense is music. Being a touring musician, the last thing you can want sometimes is music. ‘Sometimes I’m happy I don’t have to listen to music, I like the quiet’, with Steve growing up in a musical household with a DJ father, its understandable, but there is no escaping the joys of talking about it and having fun debates around the topics. On the idea of genre labelling ‘you have to describe your music somehow and for me labels are not barriers they’re just the best way to describe your music type’ but while some describe it as a barrier, Harmed are adamant in the face that ‘we are not stuck in one as we all listen to different kinds of music and have different things we like so we mix it together’.

https://youtu.be/V7aXWxCEeac

One can spend hours on such a topic, serious factors about the music industry and how people put musicians in genre boxes (as a music reviewer, something I am perhaps guilty of), but while the music industry has serious factors, most are in it for the reason of enjoyment. To have fun and let go… literally… like Gabor who fell on stage. ‘I fell on stage… but I did it in a really weird way. I just fell on my guitar’, clearly a memorable experience amongst the entire band with the instant relation to ‘embarrassing moments’ being a wave of ‘Oh! Tell them about Romania’. Even at the worst of times, Harmed take things in a way which is just move on and learn, do what you can to have fun even if it is sitting through a tour, which Levente happened to have to do. ‘ I dislocated my knee in Budapest, that wasn’t even our set I was featuring for another band! it was boom boom boom and I just realised I was on the ground like oh no oh no… one hour before our set. True rock stars in the form of a Dave Grohl style performance moment, even if the rest of the tour was on crutches and chairs, its still a one-up for completing the tour, bonus points to the band for doing so.

Rounding up 30 minutes of conversation, its clear that these three members of Harmed bring something different to the band other than musical style. As they say, ‘the thing is that normal day life we are all chill, were not crazy people. We work, but for us maybe this band is where we can just release it all. Like someone goes to the gym we do this instead.’

Releasing it all is a coping mechanism perhaps, a way of letting themselves go and as individuals they all have a personal way of doing so. Asking them to use one lyric to personally describe themselves in the band, this is where quite interesting sides are revealed (and a question of who actually knows the lyrics to the tracks!) ‘Release my worst’ because when we go on stage we lose our shit.’ Is Steve’s, referring to having a release in music. On the other hand, Gabor offers the more personal approach, along with Levente in lyrical descriptions. ‘No recognition’ because I like to hide behind my hoodies and hair and all that stuff. It’s really good to have that mystical feel to it.’ The band bring truths and acceptance to themselves, they’re aware that others may mock them, but refuse to give in to the hatred. Levente adds on for his lyric ‘in all my presence, cast me out of your circles I’m losing the essence of participation’ because we’re all a bunch of weirdos I think. People have been mocking us since were kids. Kids are evil, so I don’t want to be part of the big picture, the crowds of people because that’s kind of normal, I’m not interested in normal. Whatever you do they’re just going to bully you and you know what fuck them.

Harmed refuse to fit the normal, something that is good. From the two-hour experience I had talking with the group (and trying to find their respective tour/bandmates in the busiest part of Manchester), there was a lot to be learned and a lot I reflected on from our conversation. Not only was there the cultural aspects and the differences between Hungary and the UK, but also learning how they are ones to accept themselves and do what they want to when they can.  Harmed come across as a band of substance, there’s something within them that has that determination to work hard, get out there but have fun at the same time, just one conversation can show this. Be sure to listen to their music and more. Engage in the music, catch their shows, start a conversation with them. You can check them out at the links below.

FACEBOOK: https://m.facebook.com/harmedfromdayone/

INSTAGRAM: https://instagram.com/harmedfromdayone?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=oj3t8gz3h5wz

Words: Caitlin Homfray