Weather wise, it couldn't have been much worse with sheets of rain descending from the sky but having heard so many positive comments about this collection of south-west bands, I was determined to brave it in order to check them out for myself.
The doors opened later than advertised to a sparse but otherwise enthusiastic crowd, not that this was in the least bit off-putting for opening act, Plymouth Hardcore/Punk quartet Ship Of Fools. Vocalist Hyman utilised the situation and joined the crowd for his vocal performance: if you can't get the audience to you, go to the audience.
It certainly enlivened the atmosphere. As far as opening acts go, you couldn't get much better than the first rate set played by these guys who describe their music as "dreary Hardcore for the fucked up slums of Plymouth", but there was nothing dreary about their performance.
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This high standard set by Ship Of Fools was maintained by the second band of the evening, Exeter based, southern Hardcore five piece Backhand Saloon. Their combination of catchy southern riffs, brutal breakdowns alongside both the guitarists performing their set in amongst the now slightly larger audience certainly made for an interesting and entertaining set which included tracks from their newest EP 'Creature' including the excellent 'Mora', In fact by the end of their set, the only member of the band not in the crowd was the drummer, excellent stuff.
Third band to the stage, Devon Demonic deathcore quartet Condemned were determined to maintain the high standards set so far, something that did not go unnoticed by the now slightly larger, appreciative crowd. Despite a broken string on one of the two eight string guitars which cause a minor injury, the performance, which also included tracks from their 'Carving The Antichrist' EP, went on regardless, like true professionals.
The penultimate band to hit the stage were Plymouth based melodic Metal five piece Athuria, who absolutely blew me away with their groove laden sound, the blend of chugging, slightly tech groove and powerful melodies topped off with awesome harsh, growling vocals totally 'floated my goat'.
Their set showcased their 2012 self released debut album 'A Hand In Death's Design'. It was apparent that many of the crowd clearly shared my sentiments and were familiar with the album as quite a few were either singing along or head banging throughout their set. It was also good to see members of Condemned in the crowd letting off steam with a breakdown towards the latter part of the set. If only I had that much energy.
Back Hand Salon
Not long after the final band, Elithia, technical Metal five piece from Plymouth, hit the stage. People seemed to dwindle away a bit, a shame because this was another band giving an awesome performance.
Growling vocals and technical edged riffs were enhanced with some excellent solos, their set was energetic and enjoyable and they another band that blew me away, but I do have a weakness for a technical edged sound. They certainly deserved a bigger and more enthusiastic crowd than they got but if you have a late start then a late finish follows, combine that with the awful weather and the odds were stacked against them.
The level of musicianship and quality of vocals across the evening was first rate, to see this standard of live performance from a collection of comparatively young musicians was nothing short of impressive. It was also great that the sound was good throughout the evening.
The only low point was that more people didn't manage to make it to the performance; they will never know what they missed. One thing I am sure of is that the future of extreme music is safe in the hands of these bands.
Ship Of Fools
Ship Of Fools