Saturday 11th January 2014
Music in Leicester was at The Shed for the Bloodshed event, co-presented by Music First and Thy Art Promotions.
Steve Kilmister reports
The Shed is a fantastic venue, renowned locally as a showcase for bands of all ilks and has been so for almost the last 20 years. Saturday’s offering catered to the louder end of the spectrum with bands from Leicestershire and the surrounding areas providing music from across the metal/hardcore genres.
Things got kicked off just before 5pm with Due Vendetta. Usually having three members, Due Vendetta arrived as a two-piece with guitarist Peter Harle stepping in on vocals for absent lead singer Noah Dale. With the mic stand on the floor of the venue, and leaving drummer Euan Fisher the stage to play by himself, only seconds passed before Peter was on his back belting out their opening number.
The original material, from their ‘Mind the Gap’ EP, had a different feel tonight from what I had heard online, having less of a Punk feel with Peter at the mic – who, despite some slight mic leveling issues, coped more than admirably filling in. Alongside the original material we were offered an interesting cover of ‘Party All the Time’, originally by Eddie Murphy. I must say it was certainly an improvement over the original, though that not being particularly difficult for a song voted one of the 50 worst songs of all time!
Due Vendetta certainly got things off on the right foot for the evening, and I’d definitely like to see them at full strength.
Next on stage was Craving the Corpse. Having never seen them before, I must admit I was intrigued to see preparations for their set involving nothing more than mics, an acoustic guitar and a couple of stiff drinks. Lead singer Mike Corpse let the audience know, right up front, that they were about to see something different from everything else they would see that night, and I have to agree he was right.
The band’s first was a song written as an apology for an ex-girlfriend – for never having written her a song – unfortunately Mike’s gravely vocals were interrupted by some huge feedback, bringing about a complete halt. Unperturbed, they pressed on, and appearing to select the set list on the fly, delivered a mix of original material and diverse covers from the likes of Florence and the Machine, The Pretty Reckless, The Bloodhound Gang, The Animals and Tenacious D.
Craving the Corpse offered a juxtaposition that’s hard to put into words, their black-clad gothic appearance and grisly lyrics set to soft acoustic guitar, counterbalanced by their personable and often comedic delivery definitely worked, even though I wasn’t quite sure why.
As Empires Burn picked the tempo of the evening back up with a vicious, pit-filling set. The five-piece from Staffordshire offered up some brutal metallic hardcore, lapped up by the growing crowd. From the outset, their breakdowns incited a blur of two-stepping and windmill kicking, with lead vocalist Khris ‘Alice’ Halsall appearing only too happy to throw down the mic and take part. Khris’ vocals were spot on, making some impressive transitions between clean and dirty (and included an unexpected rendition of a Rick Astley classic.)
Between tracks the band suggested that the excesses of Christmas may have been holding them back, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from their energetic performance, with crushing riffs and killer drumming interspersed with personable crowd interaction. I’ll definitely be checking out their upcoming EP ‘Perspectives’ when it’s released in the not too distant future.
Next we saw Drowning Grace, no strangers to the Shed and hailing from Leicester/Nottingham. Drowning Grace blended styles and tempos from across metal’s sub-genres, with driving bass-lines, seriously intricate riffs and brutally deliberate breakdowns. These guys give a live show that’s not to be missed, but not at the cost of an extremely tight music performance.
Delivering tracks from the band’s self-titled EP, Benjamin Cotton’s venom filled vocal performance skillfully blended screams and guttural growls, complimented by back-up/additional vocals by bass player Connell Watkins. The band admitted to be flagging with two tracks to go, though other than the increasing length of breathers between tracks you wouldn’t have noticed. Again, the pit was full, this time further fueled by a ‘challenge’ extended by the band (I’m not sure whether anyone ever won the t-shirt that was offered as a prize, if not, it was certainly not for the want of trying.)
It’s hard to know where to start with the Ashes of Maybelle set, even going in knowing that these guys have a reputation for violent live shows, I was pleasantly surprised by the chaos that ensued. Lead singer Lyle Weir performed like a man possessed, apparently losing himself (and any regard for his personal safety) in the ominously dark hardcore that Ashes of Maybelle produced, exuding an energy that I couldn’t help but liken to that of Jason Butler. But, this was certainly no one-man show; each of the members of the band appeared to pour everything into the set, including the unplanned acrobatics and bass juggling of bass player Andy Price. Often stage antics come at the cost of musical performance, but that didn’t happen at the Shed, everything sounded spot on, vicious riffs and ferocious drumming meshing seamlessly with melodies and clean vocals.
The set was another hit with everyone in the crowd, from those clambering to join Lyle screaming into the mic to those slightly worried looking onlookers. Watching the band destroy their last track ‘Black & Grey’ as the blood ran down their lead singers forehead it was easy to see why Ashes of Maybelle have the reputation and following they do.
The Winter Hill Syndicate from Mansfield, while their delivery may not have been the most visceral of the evening, certainly held their own musically. Their sound a technical blend of heavy groove metal, punctuated by up-tempo thrashy elements and topped by an impressed vocal performance by front man Alec Radford with his brutal yet clear lyrical delivery. What felt like a brief, but well appreciated set was rounded up with ‘Jinx’ – a real showcase for the band’s grooving bass lines and intricate riffs.
The penultimate band was Dead Silence who had made the trip over to the Shed from Peterborough and provided some first-rate melodic hardcore material from their debut EP ‘It’s Dangerous To Go Alone’. Front man Rob Calton, delivered the entire set from the crowd, dominating the area in front of the stage, occasionally careering through the pit and into the halls and stairways of the venue.
His impressive, clear but aggressive vocal style was accompanied by some excellent, clean backing vocals from Conor Nicholls. The band’s trio of guitarists produced a seriously impressive sound, as they bounced, silhouetted by the onstage strobes, the entire band’s sound being augmented by some nice effects, resulting in a bass so deep you felt it rather than heard it. A highlight for me was their final track, ‘Hollow Heart’ which they released as a music video last year.
Dead Silence on Facebook
We finally arrived at the evening’s headliners and hosts, Ascend the Skies. Maybe due to the over run of the event and it being pretty late by the time they took to the stage, the crowd did seem to have thinned a little. This must have been due to the late hour, as I can’t imagine this had anything to do with the band or their performance.
It’s unfortunate that more people couldn’t stay, because those that were there went nuts, particularly for ‘Narcissist’, which was almost anthemic, with lead singer Will McLaughlan being mobbed by those trying to share his mic. Will spent most of his time in the crowd (or on the bar and speaker stacks) spitting guttural lyrics in a style that reminded me of Alex Taylor from Malevolence, his lead vocals offset by clean backing from bass player Matthew Pearman.
Ascend the Skies sounded tight, some fantastic bass lines and drum fills combined well with simple yet well-delivered riffs. The lads from Market Harborough are currently working on a full length self title debut, one I’ll certainly be looking out for.
Photography: Steve Kilmister photography