Revival, Halcyonic, Godhand & Apex @ FAC251
This is what it’s all about, DIY shows like this: Four young, hungry bands bound together in a slightly dingy club to bash out what they’ve got in the hopes of catching the eyes and ears of the punters in attendance. That can be difficult when the crowd is made pretty much exclusively of pre-existing fans and friends of the bands in question, but nevertheless it offers a podium for each of tonight’s bands to climb upon and, in effect, sell their sound. While none of tonight’s bands give off the impression of a finished product, all very much still in their embryonic stages, there are glimmers of excellence that promise a brighter future for the latter acts.
Early arrivals catch Apex’s set as their noise mongering is regurgitated out into an empty feeling room – something which gives them little energy to feed off. Those who are here already are either too busy getting beer from the bar or conversing at the back of the room; an all-encompassing ‘impress me’ attitude dominating the room. It is, in part, due to the rough edges of their performance which graze the ears somewhat.
Self-defined as Burritocore, Godhand, you feel, have a lot to learn. While their records promise a smartly arranged mesh of hardcore punk with more metallic undertones which draw from Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan, here things are muddy. The vocals are undecipherable, the have to stop one song seconds in after a clusterfuck of errors; it lacks the professionalism needed for them to stand out from the pack. Bands like Napalm Death can make an absolute torrent of demon-summoning noise and it sounds terrific, but they arrange those noises with care, here Godhand come across a little too unsure of both themselves and how to deliver the rage and fury of their desired sound in a clear and, most importantly, convincing manner. Moments of promise do lurk in their dank depths however; they just need to learn how to channel those moments consistently and fluently.
An enthusiastic supporter does the rounds prophesising about Halcyonic before they hit the stage. The best metal band in the whole of the North West by his standing, they open boldly with a cover of the iconic Ace of Spades. They make it more metallic, inject a little bit more pace and throaty anger to it alongside sweet guitar harmonies, but that gritty, sonic boom bass that is so pivotal to the original is lacking here; they’ve admirably made one of the most well-known metal songs sound like one of their own, but they forgot to add the most important ingredient in the process.
From here, vocalist/bassist Alex Beaumont leads his cohorts through a cover-heavy set and does so with a slightly obnoxious confidence. sure, there are some young girls screaming for him down the front, but having been glorified pre-show, you can’t help but compare them to some of the North West’s finest, and in all honesty they pale in comparison.
However, Beaumont’s confidence does bolster them somewhat. Where Apex and Godhand’s conviction failed in their self-belief, Halcyonic are simply bully their counterparts. Cheered for one more song, they close with Trivium’s In Waves, a song which suits Beaumount’s voice well and showcases some high quality soloing – they end on a high.
Tonight’s headliners, Revival have previously been described on these pages as possessing “sharp, punchy songs with a gritty, distorted punk backbone but an ear for a powerful melody atop the grinding riffs and pulsating drums.” Unfortunately though, their story here is very much reflective of their predecessors. It’s by no means a bad set, but a few too many songs come across blunt. As a unit they are solid, but again that confidence is lacking at points. When it’s in full flow such as on a fantastic take on Land of Confusion, which gets the admittedly lacklustre crowd moving appropriately, they back up our own superlative-laced words. Elsewhere though, there seems to be a couple of pieces missing from the puzzle. The vocals and all round impact of their sound leaves a bit to be desired, especially when you look at their influences, with the likes of Avenged Sevenfold and Dream Theater cited.
To echo though, this is an unsigned showcase, an underground show and so to expect a performance as polished and as deadly as the aforementioned artsits would be like to wish for the toilets in prison to be made of solid gold and Revival walk away from tonight with the bristling sense of pride of producing the best performance of the night. It was the set closer – a bastardised metal version of Pendulum’s Propane Nightmare’s – that cemented that. Everything seemed to notch up the gears for this, the vocals sounding more vibrant and characterful, Owen Ashworth’s drumming altogether more free, his signature Amedia cymbals shimmering throughout as you felt the atmosphere in the room lift some more.
Tonight was like walking into your new extension when the builders are still hard at work. There’s still a lot to be done but, for the latter two acts especially, the potential is there to see and admire.
Words: Phil Weller