When you see a gig advertised jam packed with up and coming British Metal bands for the price of £8, you know you should be there, even more when the latest (and arguably greatest, sorry Malefice and Exit Ten) metal band to come out of Reading in the last few years, Sylosis, are headlining the show. So down to the Relentless Garage in Highbury (North London) I went for my first live review for Rocksins.
I was lucky enough to be able to chat to Josh and some of the others from Sylosis before the show, look for a write-up of that coming here on rocksins.com very soon. A bunch of really cool guys is an understatement of how to describe them, so that was a great start to proceedings and the doors weren’t even open yet.
First up on the bill were Savage Messiah, a 4 piece thrash band who recently released their debut album Insurrection Rising on Candlelight Records. I’d heard bits and pieces of the band on the Internet before the show so was very much looking forward to seeing what they could do live. They had a few technical problems before starting, but once the first riff kicked in you wouldn’t have known that anything had been up at all. Dave Silver and Sy Taplin traded riffs and shredded alongside each other equally well with some quality technical guitar work reminiscent of some of Megadeth’s finest (I heard many people after the show compare them to early Megadeth, which I’m sure they would be pleased with). Silver’s vocal style is quite reminiscent of Matt Drake of fellow British thrashers Evile, and with riffs on a par with Yorkshire’s finest, I can see a great future for Savage Messiah. Not many people may have known who they were before the show, but the growing crowd really got into it and I’m sure by the end of their half hour set they had gained some new fans.
Welsh melodic metallers Anterior were up next and they enjoyed a good response from the crowd, having built up a solid fan base touring with some big artists such as The Black Dahlia Murder and 3 Inches of Blood in the last few years. They were one of those bands where you just can’t help but bang your head and the crowd got more and more into it with every song. I was not very familiar with them before tonight but will make a point of getting to know more about them and their début album This Age of Silence. Some of their guitar work sounded similar to former Scottish metallers Mendeed, and I found out during the show the lead guitarist from Anterior used to be in Mendeed, which has made me take further interest in them. If anyone out there liked Mendeed, you should definitely like Anterior.
Main support for the evening was Ted Maul (who I find difficult to categorise but would loosely describe as Death Metal with the odd drum and bass sample or effect). We were down the front of the venue and it was VERY obvious right from the start the volume had gone up a few levels from Savage Messiah and Anterior. However, I do not mean this in a good way. It was so loud it was physically painful so we retreated to the bar at the back where it was slightly more bearable. The sound quality seemed to be very up and down and they never seemed to quite get it right, bits and pieces of songs sounding ok for 15 seconds here and there but this was very much a case of up to 15 rather than up to 11. Ted Maul are not quite to my taste anyway but it would have been nice to be able to give them a fair go, something that I wasn’t really able to do tonight.
From the evidence of the near sell out crowd in attendance, tonight is really about one thing, and one thing only: Sylosis. Tonight is the biggest headlining Show of the Reading 5 pieces’ career and it showed, both in the intensity of the crowd (who were loudly chanting for the band before they came on) and in the quality and intensity of the performance. Beginning with the traditional opening of Desolate Seas over the P.A. system, by the time the band got on stage a huge circle pit had already opened itself up and battle was joined when the main riff to opener After Lifeless Years kicked in. Those on the barriers screamed every word back at Jamie Graham and co whilst those slightly further back headbanged, moshed and circled at a furious pace. The Ted Maul sound problems were nowhere to be seen as every note, snare and cymbal could be heard perfectly.
Things didn’t let up for a second as they launched into the title track of their début 2008 album Conclusion of an Age and the pits got even more frantic (take a look at the photos to see what I mean!). “I wanna see an old fashioned bounce pit, every one of you from left to right and back to front” were the orders from Jamie Graham as he introduced (my personal favourite track) Reflections Through Fire. Graham was offering the microphone to people in the crowd to scream the “forced into fire” mini-chorus while everyone was still bouncing, it was simultaneously crazy and fantastic to watch, inbetween alternating bouncing and circle headbanging of my own.
After a 30 second breather to fix some minor technical problems, they resumed where they’d just left off with The Blackest Skyline with its fantastic collection of fast riffs and awesome double bass pedal work sounding flawless as the people in the pit continued to find new ways to do damage to each other. After a few more technical problems and some thank yous from Jamie, they played a song that “we have never played live before” – The Fate of Vultures, the bonus track from Conclusion of an Age. The fact it was slightly less well known than some of the other songs but that didn’t stop the never ending pit.
“The next song is Withered”. Those words might as well have said “Josh is going to play some face melting solos while you all go bats**t” as thats what they were interpreted as. Myself and my friends by this point were having so much fun I didn’t really care about what else was going on around us but it was pure chaos to put it mildly. Carl (Bassist) had an absolutely enormous grin on his face at the end of this song and it was easy to see why. Sylosis have built up a hardcore following (deservedly so) and a large percentage were in attendance and in the process of losing their minds.
Oath of Silence was next up (this was the song that caused the memorable Bohemia tent wide circle pit and subsequent pile up at Sonisphere) and suddenly everyone was taking a few steps back as the pit got wider and there was a fast ring of people charging and skipping around. Several people went flying (all on the wet patch right where we were standing) and bodies were flying every which way as often as Rob Callard was pounding the kick drums (so that is a lot of carnage). The even more thrasy Stained Humanity followed prompting a mass of circle headbanging and manes of long hair flying everywhere.
Before introducing the last song of the night (Teras), the crowd was asked if it knew what a wall of death was. There was very quickly 2 lines of people with facial expressions of pure glee, the intent to hurt someone, or often a crazed mixture of both. In a scene completely reminiscent of their appearance in the Bohemia tent at Sonisphere (albeit on a much smaller scale than Sonisphere), there was an intense wall of death. Although this one only lasted a few seconds it seemed to do significant damage to the participants as 2 of my friends came back with war wounds, I stayed out of the firing line to take pictures. 3 times during this song Sylosis asked their fans for bigger and better circle pits, even after the wall of death, and 3 times they got what they asked for. Those who weren’t getting involved stood around the edge of the circle happily headbanging like crazy and it was awesome to see virtually every person in the audience so engaged with the performance. Before the end, Jamie thanked us all for the last time and said they would see us next year with a new album and a new tour. Lets certainly hope so!
The Sylosis setlist was:
- Desolate Seas
- After Lifeless Years
- Conclusion of an Age
- Reflections Through Fire
- The Blackest Skyline
- Fate of Vultures
- Oath of Silence
- Stained Humanity
Sylosis really are one of those bands that every self respecting metal fan should see live if they get the chance. Jamie Grahams voice was sounding more powerful and in control than on my previous live encounters with them and this improvement was not limited just to vocals. Every bass/guitar riff and solo were note perfect and the drumming was just phenominal, the band overall seeming even tighter and setting even higher standards than on the previous occasions I have seen them and their performance standard has always been high (the fact they have just come off a long UK tour with Dragonforce obviously having done them good). Josh had told me before the show that they seemed to have acquired some new fans on the Dragonforce tour and I must have seen at least 15-20 dragonforce t-shirts in the crowd so I think they’d be pleased to know they are picking up new fans all the time (and long may it continue).
This was an absolutely perfect night to showcase that the future of British Metal (and British Thrash in particular) is in very good health indeed, but the last word on this show has to go to (or be about) our headliners Sylosis.
There is a lyric in the Sylosis song Oath of Silence – “But unlike the hand of Midas, What you touch with turn to shit”. As far as I’m concerned, nothing this band touches turns to shit. This was an absolutely fantastic performance and if they can keep up these very high standards, I’m sure their midas touch will continue into 2010 and beyond.
For more live metal reviews (especially with the latest up and coming British talent) please keep coming back to the site. In the meantime, please check out the the gig gallery below: