with Gallows High, Her Burden, Cheerfully Undiagnosed and What’s Left
Reviewed by Liz Marriott.
Another Sunday, another Metal 2 the Masses heat at Duffy’s Bar – and heated it definitely was, with four local bands ramping up the talent, and the volume.
Gallows High stormed the stage as the opening act, providing thrills a-plenty with their heroic, harmonised solos, and powerful, piercing vocals. Since making it to the quarter-finals in last year’s event, the female-fronted five piece seems to have perfected their sound, which ranged from tender, melancholic interludes, to ominous chord progressions, domineering drums, and electrifying lead guitar.
The crowd was wowed by their Game of Thrones-inspired track, Dead of the Night – a canny choice of topic, given the long standing correlation between fans of fantasy fiction, and mavens of metal. Appropriately, the band demonstrated their combative credentials by concluding with a guitar battle of epic proportions.
Gallows High Photo: Kevin Gaughan
Hot on their heels were Her Burden, a resolutely cheerful slice of pure, pop-punk nostalgia, whose deceptively polished, contagiously catchy tracks would make the perfect soundtrack to an early 2000s high school pool party. For those of us who grew up listening to the likes of Blink 182, and Sum 41, that’s no bad thing, and the four-man band had a set full of songs that just begged to be sung along to.
Brief, punchy solos complemented the hook-filled riffs and well-crafted choruses, lending a solid foundation to their radio-friendly material.
“This is my teenage anthem”, vocalist Joshua proclaimed, during their second song. Truer words have not been sung.
Her Burden Photo: Kevin Gaughan
The third act of the night, Cheerfully Undiagnosed, presented something slightly different, with their blend of riotus pop-punk, social commentary, and contumelious comedy. Subjects ranged from a scathing dissection of unrequited lust in downtempo ballad, The Friendzone, to a raucous celebration of all things dinosaur, during which singer, Adam, incited the audience to “roar like a pterodactyl.” (At this juncture, I must pedantically note that a pterodactyl is technically a prehistoric flying reptile and not a dinosaur. Yes, I’m unpopular at parties.)
Semantics aside, whilst still a little rough around the edges, Cheerfully Undiagnosed were thoroughly entertaining, and soon had everyone laughing, singing, shouting, (and roaring) to their tunes. Not bad at all, considering it was only their fourth ever gig.
“I’m sweating like a poorly thought-out metaphor,” Adam announced, at one point. Despite any self-professed nervousness, his flippant banter with the crowd was a highlight of the night.
Cheerfully Undiagnosed Photo: Kevin Gaughan
Rounding off the evening were final band, What’s Left. Undeterred by being last in the line-up, the fresh-faced three-piece attacked their set with a vengeance, employing impressive fretwork, and matching Gretsch guitar and bass to fuel a rich, rock and roll-ridden sound.
Vocalist Lewis has outstanding stage presence, and the precise, playful drums provided the perfect counterpoint to his clear, potent voice. The group showcased compelling use of complex rhythms, and staccato pauses, topping off their performance with a trip into the crowd for a blistering guitar solo. If Tool decided to form an indie rock and roll band, it might turn out a little like this. I expect bright things to come in their future.
What’s Left Photo: Kevin Gaughan
All four acts having played, the audience was eager to cast their votes. First place to win a space on the next round was taken by Gallows High, followed by runners up, Her Burden.
The tournament continues this Easter Sunday at Duffy’s, so if you’re slightly sick of chocolate, come down to drink some beers and feast your ears on heat five of Metal 2 the Masses.
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