Friday night, four metal bands, no work the next day so a few ‘light!’ drinks for me was in order as this bill consisted of two established acts and two embryonic outfits hoping to garner new attention in a reasonably full venue for the openers Atomic Samurai whose name I’m presuming they’ve adopted from the Manga character though I may be wrong. Unfortunately I only caught the last track in full which was a cover of “American Idiot” by Green Day prior to which they were confidently knocking out a hard hitting tune that had everyone in the venue absorbed even if a fair few of the crowd seemed to be the bands parents or relatives. The crowd loved the cover song and sang as many lyrics as their alcohol grizzled grey matter could recall as their confidence abounded here enthusing the audience to sing along loudly.
Sister Shotgun from Birmingham would count as a band breaking into the metal scene with a couple of releases and touring against a new effort “Fragments” from which the majority of their tracks came from as they opened with “No Hope” after a very brief intro. Fronted by an enigmatic front woman, she engaged with the audience at every opportunity, bolstering the energy of the bands set as the opener’s bouncing riff and melody was very easy to listen to. Announcing that the next one is a heavy one, I guess that was relatively speaking, “Kill The Lights” ensued as some harsh vocals were delivered from one of the guitarists that I felt didn’t work, though the song was certainly powerful, possessing reams of catchiness. Dedicating “Fragments” to anyone who has had their heart broken probably applied to everyone as here I felt the lead vocals were really strained, a tad warbling at times and lacking cohesion amidst the dramatic backdrop of the music. Switching the mood into “Sacred Heart”, the band’s latest single, reinvigorated the set with its metalcore leanings and even a very momentary breakdown riff, which the band may not agree with me in its description, but it bolstered the song hugely and left only “Silhouettes” to close their show. The calm start and mellow vocal line again showed some cracks in the vocalists repertoire, which isn’t to say she couldn’t sing, but the range and depth needed increasing. However their popularity with the crowd was huge, with each being completely immersed in their upbeat melodic metal, but in today’s fickle market they need to offer a lot more to climb out of the massive pool of bands playing this style of rock and metal.
I originally thought I’d seen Fahran before but I hadn’t after investigating when I got home, but one thing is for certain they increased the quality in terms of music and vocals immeasurably, possessing a very accomplished front man who was captivating and equally talented with his larynx. This bunch were also touring on a new album, titled “Vapours” from which they started with “Home”, the energy and vibrancy was fluidised molten metal as the guitarists unleashed various hooks and lead breaks with excellent skill, as they followed the opener with “Stand Alone” prior to which the vocalist said it was good to be back in Yorkshire (I did expect a chant of Yorkshire, but I guess this was a different crowd), as sonic charisma oozed from their instruments and the singer continued to enthral the crowd. The band built their songs around catchy riffs and “Pyre” was a good example producing good vocal dynamics aside of the catchy upbeat nature of the song. With only a short set they kept the momentum high and the pauses to a minimum as “Blind” was the penultimate tune, complete with synchro head banging and a fine lead break that left only “State Of Mind” to finish their vibrant set as the singer said he wanted to film us, resulting in my shooter crouching to hide alongside me, as I turned away; I hate being filmed. The closer continued the rich vein of fuelled riffing that was very easy to listen to and completely enveloped you with their effusive hard rock vigour.
I’ve seen Skarlett Riot a few times before this, four actually, and each time they’ve left me with a sense that this act will go very far but since the release of 2017’s “Regenerate”, for which this tour was dubbed, there has been a stagnation in musical output and I did expect the airing of a new tune in preparation for something in the pipeline but alas that didn’t materialise as they kicked off their show with “Break”. Skarlett had totally changed her image which you can see in the photos, adding a different vibe to her persona which as ever was constantly smiling and involving with the audience as did the guys, darting around the small stage. All of Skarlett Riot’s songs are high energy gas guzzlers as “The Storm” followed and allowed the lead vocals to punch through the music formidably. However there was something a little missing tonight for me; that added wow factor I’ve experienced on previous shows seemed to be low on fuel which isn’t to criticise the vocals or music as each was delivered tremendously well. “Scream At Me” arose after asking for the audience to scream as Skarlett got the crowd to jump which I totally despise at any metal gig, it’s not a pop concert is always my jibe at this. Still, the crowd loved it and most joined in upping the momentum as that energy continued into “Voices” with its double bass charge, which was a little too loud in the mix but did its job in increasing the power.
“Calling” was a great song, as the band continued to pump the audience for drive and led into the slower more poignant “Affliction” with its powerful vocal line. Asking for camera lights on “Broken Wings”, the venue was lit up by a fair number of them waving them left to right which produced a softer guitar riff which would have been far better done on acoustic guitar. I could see the intent but the delivery was flawed and the sing back completely dissolved the emotion of the track unfortunately as they returned to the more upbeat “Divide Us”, one of their most popular tunes and rightly so. The vibrancy had returned here as they maintained it with “Feel” another easily recognised tracks as it appeared every person at the front was videoing and watching the show through their phone. “Stand Alone” had the obligatory audience participation piece dividing us into two for a competition which crowds seem to like and I seem to loathe and always have done (grumpy old man I guess). Closing with “Warrior” they ended on high impetus with the crowd devouring every note and lyric but as I suggested earlier, there was something slightly amiss that quotient of moving from being a good show to a great show but I’m sure those who were there would disagree with me as they did put on a good show, just not a great one… this time.
WORDS: MARTIN HARRIS
PHOTOS: ANDY POUNTNEY