Sylosis, Devil Sold His Soul & Chimpspanner Live Review @ Islington Academy: Triple Perspective

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Josh & Bailey of Sylosis on stage at Islington Academy, January 2013

Sylosis and Rocksins have a long history together, being one of the first bands we ever interviewed and we’ve championed them ever since. 3 years and a couple of months later sees Sylosis on a UK headline tour fully in their own right, as opposed to a “package tour” like the Metal Hammer Razor Tour. We went along to see how theyd fare on their biggest test yet. As it happens three of Rocksins’ resident writers all happened to be at the show, so we thought we’d do something different and give our readers a three way perspective on the show (or a triple threat match, for you WWE fans out there). Sadly Stephen wasn’t able to catch Chimpspanner but this review contains two doses of Chimpspanner and three of Devil Sold His Soul and Sylosis, that should be enough for even the most ardent fans!

Stephen, aside from missing the Chimpspanner experience, provides an excellent summary of the scene unfolding at one of London’s main club sized venues on this particular evening in question:

It’s pretty heartening to see The Islington Academy so full tonight. Fifteen years ago the thought of two young, heavy British bands sharing the stage and pulling in this many punters would have seemed as likely as Manchester City becoming Premier League champions. That is has happened is good news for all of us, unless you’re a Man United fan.

Now, to the bands…

Chimpspanner

Jamie: After taking the time to talk to Rocksins (charming man he is too), Mr Paul Ortiz took the stage with his Chimpspanner live band mates, minus bassist Adam Swan who was on duty in India with his other band Monuments to kick off proceedings for the evening. Kicking off with Bad Code and playing offerings from both At The Dreams Edge and newer E.P All Roads Lead Here Chimpspanner are every bit as enjoyable in person as they are on record.

The Chimpspanner brand of technical djent flavoured instrumental metal may well not be everyones cup of tea but it was enjoyed by the majority of those in attendance tonight, with the band being given increasingly louder cheers after each song. I’d wager they acquired some new fans tonight. A great start to proceedings (7.5).

James: Chimpspanner (8) kick off the evening’s entertainment with their progressive instrumentals, the music is easily entertaining enough without vocals and the role of the frontman is fulfilled by the bands drummer who becomes the vocal point of the bands stage show. Chimp Spanners set often lulls the unwary audience into a false sense of security before unleashing devastating Meshuggah-esque grooves to get the heads banging early and by the time they’ve finished a significant portion of the crowd have clearly been won over, judging by the amount of raised horns that signal their departure.

We’ve got some exclusive pictures of Chimpspanner taken during their set which you can enjoy below…

Devil Sold His Soul

Stephen: Unfortunately traffic problems mean that openers Chimp Spanner have departed by the time we enter the venue. Instead Devil Sold His Soul are walking out onstage as we arrive. Last year’s ‘Empire Of Light’ album was one of their finest and they are undoubtedly an intriguing band in their own right, whether they are the right choice for a support act on this tour is another matter entirely. They start well enough, a tight and musically gripping mix of Post-Rock dynamics and Metal-core bludgeon. Unfortunately they aren’t quite as instant a band as those in attendance might like and about halfway through the crowd start to become restless and a small pocket of ‘SY-LO-SIS’ start up. To their credit DSHS shrug it off and continue to play to the people who are willing to listen but the excellence they are capable of never really fully materialises.

Jamie: After the enjoyable Chimpspanner, Devil Sold His Soul in my opinion were not particularly good. At all. Not being previously familiar with them they instantly struck me as a poor imitation of Bring Me The Horizon and their performance did nothing to dissuade me from my initial opinion. The sound seemed a further hindrance in their efforts to make a good impression as the vocals were often low in the mix and they seemed not to connect well with the majority of the audience leading me to think “wrong band in the wrong place”. I will caveat this view by stating I do not particularly enjoy bands of this style anyway, but I thought on this occasion DSHS were poor regardless. Perhaps they’ll win me over in the future but they certainly didn’t tonight. (4).

James: Next band up, Devil Sold His Soul (9), unleash their viciously cathartic soundscapes contrasted with haunting clean vocals. It’s far from the most instant of performances and some of the impact is lost when the clean vocals often fail to rise above the wall of guitars. Yet it’s still an impressive performance. Rather than going straight for the throat, like other bands of their ilk might do Devil Sold His Soul instead unleash a relentlessly cathartic aural bludgeoning. Instant it most certainly isn’t, but there’s still a certain appeal to the ebbs and contours of their tortuous soundscapes.

Sylosis

Stephen: No such problem for Sylosis of course, they enter to a crowd who want to pump their fists and bang their heads to the joyous sound of Thrash Metal. Which is exactly what they get, and how. After original frontman Jamie Graham departed the only criticism of their excellent music was a slightly muted live delivery. Tonight they take that criticism and roughly stuff it back down their naysayers throats. They are incredible. The most obvious reference points to their music is the dizzying technical prowess of Megadeth, the brutish but catchy rhythms of Testament all topped off with the sleek, precise production qualities of In Flames. All bands of huge pedigree, but tonight Sylosis deserve to be mentioned alongside such class. Songs from the recent ‘Monolith’ album are a huge leap forward in terms of quality but even earlier cuts from ‘Conclusion Of An Age’are given a new lease of life. Lead man Josh Middleton is an absolute star managing to scream hellfire whilst peeling off the most savage riffs and warp speed solos. It’s quite a showing and a noticeable improvement from two years ago that is so inspiring it’s almost confusing. On this evidence we have a world class band on our hands here, you might not be able to predict everything that will happen in the next fifteen years but if Sylosis are still around you won’t find many here tonight that will be shocked.

Jamie: Sylosis on this night meant business from the word go and never took their foot off the accelerator for a second. Opening with the impressive Out From Below from new album Monolith, the next hour plus was to pass by in a sea of circle pits, heads banging and fists pumping.

The set was a nice mixture of all three of the bands albums; The new Monolith material adds real depth to Sylosis’ catalogue, which has allowed them to mix things up in terms of their sets for now and in times to come. Fear The World and All Is Not Well particularly stood out from Monolith, while old favourites like Teras, The Blackest Skyline and Empyreal exacted the fanatical response one has come to expect from a partisan Sylosis crowd. Josh Middleton continues to grow into his duel role of front man and lead guitarist and is getting better and better at crowd interaction with each passing tour. A thoroughly enjoyable performance felt like it was over as quickly as it had begun, with Sylosis have further solidified their position as one of the leaders of the rising British metal pack that have emerged over the last few years (9).

James: Tonight’s headliners Sylosis (9), start their set slowly, but by fan favourite ‘Conclusion Of An Age’ about a quarter of the way through the Reading Shredders have hit their stride. Plenty of picks from their fantastic new album – Monolith, are broken up with older numbers like Teras and Blackened Skyline. Whilst they lack the explosive power of some of their peers Sylosis are still a fearsome live prospect, rarely stopping to address the crowd and instead focussing on melting faces with their ferocious riffs. It’s a testament to the strength of their back catalogue that, on only their third album there’s not a single wasted opportunity to get heads banging in tonight’s set. Indeed, they could have happily played on at least another half hour – impressive when tonight’s set already ran for an hour and twenty minutes!

Overall, a very enjoyable evening, and Sylosis more than delivered once again. We’ll give the final word on the show over to James:

Sylosis and their support acts have proved tonight just how strong this upcoming crop of new bands in the UK really is. They may not be being relentlessly hyped by the UK rock press and they may not “have money thrown at us” as Josh Middleton put it, but the amount of fans here tonight, even without being relentlessly pushed proves just how much support that UK homegrown talent has got at the moment both at home and abroad – proven by the huge tour Sylosis recently undertook supporting Lamb Of God in the states.

Please also check out our exclusive picture gallery of Sylosis from the show below. For more metal news and the latest in rock & metal gig reviews please stay tuned to Rocksins.com