(review by MWJ)
I didn’t even know there was an upstairs here, apparently it’s mainly for mini club nights of your standard weekend fare but something different tonight with a collection of bands put together by/for Chris from Insentia’s birthday. And with the bands and friends, fans and random folks checking out as they are here anyway it’s quite busy up in the small room, though this varies through the night.
A revitalised Mephs (or Engines of Pleasure maybe their redefinition is yet to be confirmed) are on first. A new girl singer plus bassist add to original guitarist and Danny on drums. To start with the drums are uber alles but it could also be an element of feet finding in what I think is one of their first gigs since reorganising. Once they do get sonically sorted and into their stride it’s much better, far clearer vocals than in their previous incarnation, still the same driving melodic and metallic rock.
Bastions I had heard on t’internet and was impressed that such a good band had come from apparently nowhere (although this often seems to happen from the wilds of Anglesey). It turns out that they do have experience in the ranks though as this is an outlet for more aggressive rage from Jamie from POAL, though now with a staccato shredding hardcore background. There are occasional more mellow spoken words and slower sections but it’s largely a reeling whirlwind, as ever done with ultimate conviction. It certainly too harsh for fair-weather customers but fine by me
The three piece called Apogee (i double checked), from Chester I believe, cleaned things up a bit both in sound and structure as their approach was a more melodic hardcore. Thought there were elements of Stuntface in there except with maybe more of an accessible angle, which left me a little undecided. All the musician and vocals were putting good effort in but the end result was a little unremarkable to me, just a taste thing.
Finally, Insentia, another new band put together from various extreme metal talent in the area. Slow as I can be, I only cottoned on to the fact that they hadn’t got a drummer to match up to their requirements when the sampled stuff didn’t come through at the first attempt. Once that was sorted they were soon giving the evils with some atmospheric doomy My Dying Bride style intro before getting into more relentless death/black technicalities. The vocals had a clawed grasp of the theatricals but I thought the roar was far more effective than the screech, the bass player was the best I have seen locally, the two guitarists gave scope for harmonies to be developed. I have empathy for the problems of the awkwardness that can occur with playing to backing tracks but felt they didn’t help themselves in keeping the flow going with a slack attitude to cracking on with things but it’s early days and with time to tighten up they could be a fearsome proposition.
All in all good stuff, and another potential venue to be put to good use