(review by Levi Lewis-Olding / pics by Sam Jones)
Alternative title: Shitty bus drivers and Swedish metal.
I’d like to begin with a question. Paying for a £5 bus ticket with a £10 note isn’t unreasonable is it? One bus driver seemed to think so and was refusing to let me get on his bus, until I teamed up with my ‘photographer’ and bought two tickets so he didn’t have to give us any change. At any rate, this gig almost didn’t happen for me. I’m still mad about this.
But surely upon arriving in Wrexham, I could look forward to a lovely KFC meal right? Well not quite, a 25 minute wait meant we were almost late for the gig. Seriously, what’s happened to KFC? At least they have nice chips now.
Anyhoo, on to the gig. If you read my last article, you might know that Central Station opened its doors 10 minutes late last time. Well tonight, they decided to open them 20 minutes late, because who doesn’t love standing in the freezing cold as cars drive past and gawp at the hordes of people wearing black?
They eventually let us in, and unlike last time I was here, it was actually comfortably warm! I headed to the bar, got a drink and took up my post, eagerly waiting for the first band. Then I noticed a time sheet saying they weren’t on for another 25 minutes. Why open the doors at 7 when the band doesn’t start until 7:45? I must say, this didn’t bother me too much because I was really looking forward to this band, a night of good quality metal was exactly what I needed to spice up my weekend!
And so after the 25 minute wait, it was a great moment when I heard In Depths‘ (pic above) intro track being played. I’ve seen these guys two or three times before now, and so I can quote the track word for word, but that doesn’t escape its sheer awesomeness. They walk on to the “I’m as mad as hell!” speech from the film Network and go in to a huge breakdown right as Mr. Beale declares “I’m a human being god dammit! My life has value!” Let me make this perfectly clear; that intro works incredibly well. The crowd felt the energy behind this entrance and knew they were in for one hell of a show. Thundering through their EP, I was really impressed with the showmanship and musicianship of the band. Aaron Furnival is an incredible drummer and tonight was no exception to his usual exploits and this was built on by the rest of the band, with Troy Huxley providing a massive bass sound to fill out the songs and guitarist Alex Davies played some of the most intricate and impressive guitar lines I’ve heard in a long time. To top it all off, front man Liam Ruddock is an incredible showman, feeling the energy of the crowd and commanding them to do what he wants. All of this is perhaps made more impressive by the fact that the oldest member of the band is 18. Despite a few technical hitches, this was a great show. The only downside I can really point out is the sound. I’ve complained about this before and unfortunately, this was a major downside to the gig. This wasn’t In Depths‘ fault however, and I really can’t fault them for what was truly the best performance of any band on the night.
Next on the bill was London-based Despite My Deepest Fear (above & main pic) who I’d heard good things about. I’d not really had much of a chance to listen to these guys before the gig, and I must say they’re not the type of music I’d normally listen to. Nevertheless, I wanted to keep an open mind and I was hoping they’d completely change my mind about their genre. Unfortunately, they didn’t. The music was a little too predictable, almost formulated to be the exact type of pop-metal I don’t like. Nothing was going to change my thoughts on their music, but I can honestly say that their stage show was incredible! Guitarists bouncing everywhere and a front man who knew exactly what to do with a crowd meant that this was a really strong performance. At one point, the singer climbed up in to the rafters and screamed an entire song from above the crowd. That was pretty awesome. Not only did they have great on stage antics, but their breakdowns were huge. Despite not liking the genre, I can appreciate a good breakdown, and Despite My Deepest Fear were more than happy to provide some of the hugest breakdowns of the night, complete with bass drops. Once again, the sound really let them down (I’ll explain further a bit later on…). At any rate, these guys performed way better than I expected and I can say that I would probably go and see them again if they were playing locally, purely for the stage show.
Third on the evening were Sweden’s Adept. I’d just like to point out right now that I absolutely love Sweden, they’ve produced some of the world’s finest things such as Ikea and Volvo and uh, … meatballs? Anyway, Adept should probably go on the list of great Swedish exports and needless to say, I was really looking forward to seeing them live. I’ve since spoken to In Depths bassist Troy Huxley who confirmed that these guys are awesome people. They apparently zipped their singer in a drum case and rolled him about the place during sound check. How awesome is that?
I’m pretty sure these guys were drunk when they came on stage. They’re a Scandinavian metal band, so probably. Despite this fact, they put on an incredible show, powering through some intense songs with brief interludes of talking to the crowd with a Swedish accent (Which meant I didn’t understand a word, but still enjoyed it.) about something or other. Oddly though, the singer decided that as it was their first time in Wales, they had to show off their guitarist’s arsehole… I’m not too sure why this was, perhaps it’s a Swedish thing. At any rate, everyone was a little freaked out by this, but it didn’t matter because they were soon launching their metal at the crowd again. The bassist was the most enthusiastic I’ve seen in a while, jumping around the stage and the front man commanded the crowd perfectly, even if his hat was far too big for his head. There’s not really too much else I can say about this band, they seem like awesome people, they play awesome music and they put on an awesome show. What’s not to like about them? Oh yeah, the sound system.
I might as well talk about the sound now. I came out of the place with my ears ringing and barely being able to hear. I get that metal is loud, but this was ridiculous. My ears are still hurting two days later. This would have been fine if I could actually hear what anyone was saying, but I just couldn’t. The microphones were so loud that everything just clipped and bounced around the place. I have no idea why, but there was also ridiculous amounts of reverb and delay on the microphones. I’ve been told that it’s pretty common to put reverb on microphones during a live performance, but in a place like Central, they’re already struggling to contain the reverb because of their metal ceiling, so why add more? It got to a point where if the singers went in to their higher range, the sound clipped and broke. (If you don’t know what clipping is, it’s where the sound gets so loud that it distorts and sounds awful.)
My final complaint about the venue tonight, was the amount of time in between bands. I understand that equipment needs to be changed etc, but 15 minutes seems a bit much. As a result, my ‘photographer’ (He’s not really a photographer, he just took some pictures for me on his phone…) got bored of waiting and put a cone in the middle of the pit, just to put off any two steppers.
This didn’t really work and people two stepped anyway, but it was absolutely hilarious to watch the moment of confusion as they stared at it wondering why it was there.
Anyway, there was still With One Last Breath to go, and I was hoping they’d prove everything I’d heard about their live shows wrong. I’d been told that live they were unprofessional and the singer was out of key and terrible. While I’m really not a fan of their music, I have to say that they definitely proved these things wrong.
Storming on to the stage, they had a great feeling of energy around them which initially drew me in. By this time however, half the crowd had left (perhaps because of the stupidly late running time) and so the venue had sort of lost its vibe by now. Despite this, they pulled off a professional and enthusiastic performance, with musicians bouncing all over the place. I was particularly amused by the bassist, he got up to various shenanigans. First, he climbed in to the rafters, like the singer of DMDF, but then decided it would be a good idea to hang upside down and play his bass there. This would have been pretty awesome if it wasn’t for the awkward 30 seconds where there was no bass in the song… He then jumped off stage and proceeded to mosh with the crowd while playing his bass and miraculously didn’t go out of tune. When he got back on stage he was running about the place, and even hit the guitarist in the face with his guitar at one point. This sort of annoyed me. Looking at them play, it sort of felt like they didn’t really know each other. This was mainly between the singer and the rest of the band. He would run about the stage, and none of the other band members seemed to even notice he was there. It was a little disappointing to see the band divided like this, but they ploughed on anyway. I really can’t fault their performance, but I just wasn’t a fan of their music. This goes for most of the bands on the night, but if you were a fan of them you would have absolutely loved this show.
In Depths: https://www.facebook.com/InDepths
Despite My Deepest Fear: https://www.facebook.com/dmdfuk
With One Last Breath: https://www.facebook.com/withonelastbreathofficial