THE CONTORTIONIST / PALM READER / NETHERALL / ENEMY OF ATLAS - The Asylum 2, Birmingham 09.07.18

SAMANTHA LLOYD

(PHOTO CREDITS: SAMANTHA LLOYD PHOTOGRAPHY)

The majority of the crowd are dressed for the sticky weather, the usual black jeans swapped for black shorts but still the humidity in the Asylum2 is close to boiling point as the small crowd grab their drinks and head to the barrier for the first band of the evening.

 

Wolverhampton based ENEMY OF ATLAS open up the evening of Post Hardcore and Prog Metal with a tight and controlled battering of eardrums. Their 6 song set displayed hard and heavy metal to the small crowd, the front row banging along in time with the band who seemed totally at ease on the small Asylum2 stage.

Thankfully the open window at the side of the stage, complete with a fan to aid the intake of air into the venue, delivers a much needed breeze of fresh air that envelops the stage and sends cool air cascading into the front row.

 

Vocalist and frontman Matthew O’Hara calmly owns the small stage, exuding a confidence beyond his years, stepping up to the barrier, getting close with the audience and pacing the small area that he is able to move around in. Both Dom Shaw and George Buttery (guitars), and bassist Scott Bissell-Palmer, throw their heads around like a trio of bobblehead figurines, the swooshing swaying of their moshing mimicked by the small crowd that are huddled at the barrier while the booming of the drums from Zak Rathbone bludgeons heavily through every track. ‘Blind’, ‘In Time’ and ‘Judas’ really get the crowd going and it's great to see people out supporting live music.

 

Enemy of Atlas are:

Scott Bissell-Palmer - Bass

Dom Shaw - Guitar

Matthew O'Hara - Vocals

Zak Rathbone - Drums

George Buttery - Guitar

 

You can follow them on their social media and YouTube at:

https://www.enemyofatlas.com
https://www.facebook.com/EnemyOfAtlas/

https://www.instagram.com/enemyofatlas/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdIq62YhMofPUob6UdqIpIQ

 

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After a small interlude the second band on the bill take to the small stage, the room now holding maybe 30 - 40 people at best.

 

Birmingham based trio and 2017’s Metal To The Masses winners, NETHERHALL delivered an atmospheric set that seemed to vibrate every molecule in the building. Each song took the crowd through an ethereal and otherworldly experience that was both mesmerising and fulfilling in its ambience, the dark lighting adding to the atmosphere of the songs. The lack of vocals did not detract from the performance but instead seemed to enrich the music itself, the focus lying solely on the instrumentation and the more than capable musical abilities of the trio.

Jake on the drums delivered a heavy yet not overpowering set as there was both softness and technical prowess that added a solid rhythmic foundation to the tracks. Accompanied in the rhythm section by Tom Bushell on the bass, the distorted and reverberating power he displayed purred at an almost subliminal level while the guitar from Lewis was enriching and intrinsic in both quality and delivery. Their enthralling and mesmerising set totally blew me away.

 

Though this was my first time catching a live performance of Netherhall, and without a lead vocalist at the moment, I ensure you it won't be the last time I catch these guys live. A thoroughly enjoyable set from an accomplished and captivating trio that received a huge round of applause from the small audience tonight.

Netherhall are currently on the hunt for a new vocalist to add to their ranks.

 

Netherhall are:

Lewis Ward - Vocals / Guitar

Jake Raybould - Drums

Tom Bushell - Bass

You can follow them at:

https://www.facebook.com/NetherhallUK/

https://netherhalluk.bandcamp.com/releases

 

PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA. PLEASE DIRECT ALL MEDIA ENQUIRIES TO LINDSAY@DOWNTHEFRONTMEDIA.COM

Penultimate band Palm Reader slam into their set and so does the microphone stand, quite literally as it hits the deck. Pummelling, booming and shouting their way in proper metal growling fashion are the Nottingham based hardcore quintet. A plethora of exuberant energy lashes every second of their set, the band take control of the stage and demand the full attention of the audience as they make their way through set opener ‘Internal Water’, and tracks such as ‘Always Darkest’ and ‘Inertia’ that deliver heavy growling hardcore madness to the small audience.

 

Bassist Josh Redrup, guitarists Andy Gillan and Sam Rondeau-Smith jump around the stage in full moshing style, their instruments swinging around and how they don’t collide with one another is beyond me. Frontman and vocalist Josh Mckeown comes very close at times to receiving a sharp whack to his head from the bass guitar but whether it’s simply luck or down to all the practice sessions the collisions never actually occur and the set thunders through song after song.

 

Redrup holding his guitar aloft roars at the small crowd in sync with Mckeown, the technically seething aggression of the band taking on a form of its own as they dominate and decimate the audience which, unfortunately doesn't seem to increase in size for the whole evening.

 

Dynamic and charismatic, Palm Reader deliver exactly what this small audience have come for and that is a mosh fest of a time. An excellent set rounded off with ‘I Watch The Fire Chase My Tongue’ which gets a great reaction from the crowd. The animated band have created a great lead up to the headliners tonight.

 

Palm Reader are:

Josh Mckeown - Vocals

Josh Redrup - Bass

Andy Gillan - Guitar

Sam Rondeau-Smith - Guitar

Dan Olds - Drums

You can check out the band at:

https://wearepalmreader.com

https://twitter.com/wearepalmreader

https://www.instagram.com/palmreadergram/

https://www.youtube.com/user/palmreaderuk

 

PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA. PLEASE DIRECT ALL MEDIA ENQUIRIES TO LINDSAY@DOWNTHEFRONTMEDIA.COM

The lights in the Asylum fade to black as the six band members of The Contortionist wind their way through the crowd, the stage in utter darkness save for the torches that light their way to their places and respective instruments. The crowd is ready, hoots and whistles, cheers and applause ensue as they strike up their set with ‘Clairvoyant’.

Amidst strobe lighting, atmospheric low lights and the mix of odd time signatures throughout their set,  The Contortionist deliver a powerful mix of crushing tech-metal riffs and trancelike songs. ‘Flourish’ is technically brilliant, the audience all tuned into the same hypnotic state of ethereal aggressive head banging. Michael Lessard’s vocals constantly switch between the melodic and heavy growls that pull together the best parts of early The Contortionist with the newer more textured soundscape of their newest album Clairvoyant.

Not only a musical performance but a light performance too, the lights interact with the music, drawing the crowd into a minefield of light and sound that stimulates all the senses, creating an atmosphere that is stamped with The Contortionist’s signature flourishes with an added simplicity to the tracks that creates that melding of melody with aggression. This really is Prog Metal at its best.

Though less animated than the 3 bands that came before them (maybe that is purely down to space on the stage) the 6 band members seem like they are in their own trancelike state, each one moving on the spot in time with the rhythm, the hypnotic sway and movements adding to the euphoric feeling of being caught in some kind of meditation, not to mention the slowing rising humidity levels and the enveloping cloud of smoke that frequently fills the stage, pouring over the barrier into the front few lines of the crowd.

Progressing through an almost kaleidoscope of colours, smoke and musical prowess, they play 10 tracks of fan favourites to include ‘Reimagined’, the ethereal keyboards adding another layer to this already heavily textured performance, ‘God Speed’, ‘Absolve’ and ‘Solipsis’ before Michael Lessard points out “I can’t hear a thing in my right ear, I think I may have blew out my ear drum! But on with the music, I can cry later”, to which the crowd cheers as the strobe returns.

“Normally this is the point where we walk off the stage and you guys chant for us to come back on for another track, but we can’t do that here as there’s nowhere to go, (The Asylum has no back stage or side stage) so we’ll just play you some more music if that’s ok?” asks Michael as the band strike up the encore. Closing out their set with one of the most ambitious and dream state infused tracks ‘Language I: Intuition’ the crowd cheer and my fellow photographer in the pit slips into the same trance as every other member of the audience.

A remarkably engaging set is delivered from The Contortionist to say the least, and despite a small technical issue that results in the tech guy messing with the wires mid performance, the set goes down superbly well! I suggest if you haven’t already got tickets to their other shows that you go do that now before they head back over to the States.

The Contortionsit are:
Robby Baca - Guitar

Michael Lessard - Vocals

Joey Baca - Percussion

Cameron Maynard - Guitar

Jordan Eberhardt - Bass Guitar

Eric Guenther - Keyboards

You can find out more from the band at:

https://www.facebook.com/thecontortionist/
https://twitter.com/tcband?lang=en
http://smarturl.it/clairvoyant

 

PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA. PLEASE DIRECT ALL MEDIA ENQUIRIES TO LINDSAY@DOWNTHEFRONTMEDIA.COM

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