Last night (Friday) we witnessed one of the best, most energetic nights of metal you’re likely to see in London, including three fantastic up-and-coming British metal bands.
We headed down to Boston Music Room, in Tufnell Park, to check out Rugby rockers wars opening up for south coast five-piece Acres, Essex’s Create To Inspire and the mighty North Carolina powerhouse that is He Is Legend.
wars opened up, taking to the stage to the backdrop of recorded spoken vocals that ended in “we are all wars” that saw them burst into an intro of screamed vocals from frontman Rob Vicars and huge guitar noise. My opening impression was a feeling of Alexisonfire-esque sound with the contrast between Vicars’ heavy vocals and the melodic choruses led by guitarist Sam Barnard.
One of the highlights of this set, and the entire gig, was the hugely enjoyable heavy riffs that wars blast out, as was the case with second song Snows and Skies, which saw Rob jump into the audience to scream along with two avid fans at the front of the audience.
That was followed by the excellent Hailing Distance, the most recent single from their debut album We Are Islands, After All. It opened up with a funky guitar riff and clean vocals from Sam, then launches into a brutal blitz from Rob and ends in a big solo over the top of some big guitar chords.
The big low-tuned riffs were present in abundance in the huge The Art of Not Knowing before their final song of the set was introduced with more recorded spoken vocals. The lights came on full as the band smashed into a big rock out, before Rob climbed up on top of the drums for the outro, which saw him end up writing around of the floor.
wars’ hugely heavy, low-pitched guitars and big vocals contrasted with the melodic choruses conjure thoughts of the likes of Architects and Bury Tomorrow and their live show promises plenty for this exciting new band. We’ll have more from them later this week from an interview with Rob and bassist Rich Bennett at the show.
wars’ performance gave the rest of the lineup something to live up to, but they all more than achieved just that. The first to attempt it was Acres, who opened up with a slow and melodic intro then a drum roll launched into a blitz of screamed vocals.
Acres brought a very different sound to the proceedings with their atmospheric floaty guitars, alongside clean vocals, contrasted by big screamed vocals and lower heavier guitars. There were big moshy riffs aplenty alongside awesome to watch and engaging to listen to blitzing high-pitched solos.
Penultimate track In Sickness & Health began with a slow chilled out opening that gradually built up with their trademark atmospheric guitars supporting clean vocals that become increasingly intense. That was followed by a massive rock-out, with sneaky hits of bass drum in-between big guitar riffs.
They were followed by the impressive Create To Inspire, who I hadn’t heard much of ahead of the gig but certainly will be now.
The Essex rockers combined funky heavy riffs with huge driving drums and were a bit more post-hardcore in style with frontman Sean Midson combining clean, melodic vocals with not only big screams but also almost rap-like delivery. It was a really impressive performance with bags of energy and audience engagement.
They closed out with the awesomely intense Counting Days, with big driving low-tuned overdriven guitar riffs and wild screamed-rap vocals, contrasted by a big singalong chorus.
The main event for the evening was He Is Legend, again a band who I hadn’t listened to much before seeing them but have to now that I’ve witnessed them in the flesh. They put on one of the best sets I’ve seen recently, which literally sent the audience crazy.
The stage presence of enigmatic frontman Schuylar Croom drew the crowd in with his winding dance moves (see left), and pulling out a box of matches, lighting one and putting it out on his tongue, then rocking out. The audience responded with some of the heaviest moshing I’ve seen in a while, then jumping on stage to dance around with Schuylar and diving back into the crowd.
A particular highlight was the band launching into a rendition of Nirvana’s School – which was bizarre as I was talking about Bleach being my favourite Nirvana album as we were walking to the gig. From that point on I wormed my way to the very front of the crowd, right against the stage, and had a great view of the action but couldn’t actually hear the vocals.
It was crazy, heavy, bouncy, massively engaging and generally a riot of a set to bring a superb metal gig to a close. Now I’m off to listen to Bleach for the first time in months…