Apex, Found From Within, No Brainer, Elder Fawn, Ophic @ Fac251
This is a world where people will spend hundreds of pounds to see some old has-beens on a stage that’s five miles away. They’ll spend a shit-tonne of beer-money watching tribute bands in order to flounder in a haze of nostalgia for bands that most of these people didn't even bother going to see live when those bands were together. These same people will mourn the loss of the great bands of the past but won’t be arsed spending a few quid to support the future of music.
Will any of tonight’s bands set the world on fire? Will they disappear into obscurity or become the next Nirvana? Most of you will only find that out when you see them at a stadium through your binoculars. Some of us will be able to say we were there at the start. In the pit. Sweating together, screaming together, up close and personal and able to count the nose hairs on the singer. When Iron Maiden was beating up the Ruskin Arms back in the day, did anyone present really know the future for those young upstarts?
I arrive too late to see opening band Ophic. This is my loss entirely. Stockport based with influences stated as Alter Bridge, Mastodon, Pantera, Periphery and Tool what’s not to like? Check out their track Hillbilly Rampage over on Youtube. It’s a banger!
Droylsden lads, Elder Fawn are next to tear the stage up. I reviewed these guys not long back for their Bierkeller gig. This room at Fac251 is infinitely more suited to this crew with their grunge infused power and they hit harder than ever in this darkened cell. Powerful rhythm section Morgan Elsby on bass and skins-man Alick McGreskin construct the beat with power and skill and Luke Gallagher strangles riffs from his silver Gretsch that one minute howls and in the next moment roars. A smattering of covers from the likes of Biffy Clyro, Foo Fighters and Nirvana blend seamlessly with their own material and catchy numbers like Lost in Translation and Blackened Heart instantly find their way under your skin.
No Brainer follow on with a set comprised entirely of cover versions. Nirvana’s ‘School’ from Bleach is given a vicious outing here and a cracking cover of COC’s ‘Clean My Wounds’ sounds immense. Clearly this is a band starting out so it will be interesting to see what their own material will sound like. Given their influences I imagine quality.
Found From Within is a Manchester fivepiece that combines vicious deathcore with a hint of the progressive to create their brand of intense noise. It’s hard not to get swept along in the maelstrom as pummeling rhythms drive nails into your cranium with serial killer intent. Most of the band at some point leave the stage and get into the crowd to thrash around with their instruments and it’s this kind of commitment and intensity that lingers on the mind. It helps that they have the tunes and the musical ability. Calvin Fayle’s vocals get lost in the mix at times, which is a shame as he has a satisfying growl but this doesn’t affect the gig at all. In fact all the musicians in this band are watchable as they all give frenetic performances but rather than clashing for attention it all gels rather well!
Melting brutal death metal into a hardcore base, Apex is an interesting enough prospect on paper but live they tear shit up into a twisted but addictive level of intensity. Brutal riffing from Cannibal Corpse tee clad Michael Battye brings the death, tight drumming courtesy of Emily Greenwood and driven bass lines from Isaak Heggs support Rowan McGillivray’s psycho vocals as he throws himself to the boards and pounds on the monitors. The noise emitting from his jaws does not entirely relate to his wiry frame and he also fearlessly leaps into the crowd to join the pit. It’s a positive confrontation, celebratory in nature although lyrically they clearly have something to say that isn’t just disposable pap. Check ‘em out.
Every band tonight performs with heartfelt conviction and sincerity. They celebrate and revel in their youthful energy and each band delivers a set that feels like something special is happening: that something tangible and worthwhile is alive and kicking in the underground.
And they say youth is wasted on the young.
Images & Words: Paul Cooke