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Friday, 18 November 2016

Another Point Of View: SOiL (Live Review By Elle)

SOiL: The Globe, Cardiff

On Sunday night (ugh school night) I made my way over to The Globe. I arrived nice and early so the queue was minuscule, which was great as I could take my place upstairs at the centre of the balcony. It was unusually cold inside, as The Globe is normally fairly toasty, but I shouldn't really complain about temperature. Around 3 weeks prior to the gig it was announced that the American rock band, Saliva, would not be joining SOiL on their tour, due to health issues with one of their members. This was a big disappointment for most people, judging by the reaction on social media but I am personally not that familiar with them so this didn't faze me. In any case, there were other support bands, whose material I'd never heard, so I was excited to see if I could find new gems to add to my iPod.

First on stage was a local, Bridgend-based band, When We Were Wolves (5). This five-piece band, which is often described as post-hardcore and metalcore, consisted of a weird mix of men, perhaps in their mid-twenties and what seemed to be their younger brothers (one on drums, one on guitar). Their set consisted of a combination of songs from their three EP's and one full length album, Wolf House (2013). The frontman, Mitchell Bock, started off the show by shouting at the empty space in the middle of the floor. The guys on stage didn't seem to be bothered about the sparse crowd and even thanked us a few times for getting there early to check them out. I appreciate that it is very hard, especially for a new band, to get recognition but their performance was a bit of a poor effort. 

During Blind, Mitch tried to incorporate clean vocals with his screams and I wish he'd stuck to the screaming, which what the majority of the 5-6 songs in the set were comprised of. It was all very loud and erratic and the band seemed to create more noise than was necessary. The crowd, of what little people there were, were cheering and being supportive nonetheless. I'm afraid my ears were struggling to cope so it's a good job they weren't on for long. Now, I am not the biggest fan of post-hardcore so perhaps I'm being too harsh here but they could've sounded better if the clean vocals were up to scratch.

Next up, was another five-piece, English rock band from the Midlands, Liberty Lies (6). This bunch was also a comical looking mix of musicians. The bassist, Adam 'Wolfie' Howell, who was the smallest in the band, had the biggest guitar, which in all fairness to him he handled well. This, unfortunately unsigned band, has one full length album and two EPs. The vocals of the frontman, Shaun "ManBun" Richards, were not exactly weak but a bit flat and didn't really flow well with the music. I guess I should have expected this kind of generic sound as this is what you often get with hard rock. Or am I just getting too old and grumpy?! Unlike the previous band, these guys were going crazy in what little space they had on stage. 

I was surprised that no one got hurt, so they get an extra point for the effort. Half way through the set, Shaun pointed out that The Globe is the weirdest venue the band had ever played in, as he tripped over the amp in front of him and almost fell face forward. It would have looked like spontaneous crowd surfing if there were more people there to catch him. During the song Vultures, one of the guitarists bust a string on his guitar but luckily this didn't affect the sound and the band's energy didn't slip. Even though all of the songs merged into one, the tunes grew on me towards the end of the set.

A bit of a wait around until the next band, Sons Of Texas (7) graced us with their presence. The room, at this point, had filled up nicely, but with enough personal space left for everyone. The crowd mainly consisted of middle aged guys and a unique calibre of people that would not pass a face to face interview, well perhaps at a circus. 

This groove/southern metal band from Texas looked a bit more promising. Don't let this genre description fool you, the opener to the set was as heavy as lead. The frontman, Mark Morales, was spitting anger and hate at the crowd but it didn't take long to start appreciating how powerful his vocals were. The bassist, Nick Villarreal, was again, the smallest guy on stage so there must be a trend there, although, good things do come in small packages.

The band have only released one album, Baptized In The Rio Grande, which was out last year, so the stage was full of supporting fresh talent tonight. You could start to hear the southern notes in Mark's vocals for Pull It And Fire, which suited the song nicely. It went on to transform into jamming riffs and the satisfying heaviness of the bass and the drums. Top marks for the energy and effort from the band and the interaction and general charm the frontman had about him when speaking to the audience. The place was rocking and the already warmed up crowd were headbanging and moving around a bit more. 

The band themselves were lunging all over the stage and headbanging in synchronicity. I must say, they were not a bad looking bunch for sweaty, angry metal men. The guitarists, Jon Olivares and Jes De Hoyos were producing some juicy riffs and the singer was passionately pounding his chest. That's what I call a dedicated upkeep of his persona. Between each song, we were kept reminded of what the band is called by the frontman and I wish he'd rather told us the titles of their songs. Texas Trim, a song about sex and one night stands, was a groovy, country tune, sexy indeed, during which Mark plunged into the crowd. Sons Of Texas' songs were a great mix of cruel heaviness and jamming country, with bluesy notes. 

Towards the end of the set, the title track of their only album portrayed great energy between the band members. The finisher to the set was another rocker where Mark plunged down to the floor again and gave the front row handshakes, hugs and kisses. These guys exceeded my expectations and this being their first time out of the States I hope they do well in the future. I would definitely see them again.

The crowd moved closer to the edge of the stage in anticipation for the long awaited SOiL (8). The band came on stage to a massive cheer and went straight into Wide Open, which is such a tune, the crowd was dancing from the first note. The singer, Ryan McCombs, dressed in a checked shirt and a hillbilly cap looked tiny between Adam Zadel and Tim King, two tall, broad-built guitarists who looked like bookends on each side of the stage. I don't think the sound check guys were happy with the sound of Ryan's iconic mic for the first two songs as they were fussing around the stage and gesticulating to each other. Next was an oldie, Need To Feel, which sent the crowd wild. 

The reception to the band was astounding, which was to be expected for these nu-metal rockers. In contrast, Ryan was cool and calm when addressing the crowd but with a great dry sense of humour. More sound issues followed for Pride, as we could hear some screeching feedback coming from the singer's mic. This resulted in a 5 minute stoppage but Ryan provided the crowd with quality banter and light-hearted atmosphere by picking on the roadies for not doing their job properly. Couple more songs and the sound was restored to its clarity.

Next up was Amalgamation, Ryan joked about how he regrets getting drunk and suggesting to play this song live. Another song unwillingly sang by Ryan was The Lesser Man/Give It Up, which he went into after muttering: "Fuck my life". This song was done by the band with a different singer so it's not a surprise Ryan had zero enthusiasm towards performing it live. The band was served a shot of J├Ąger each whilst we encountered more sound issues. It's a shame I wasn't drinking as these technical hiccups in the 13 song setlist would've been more bearable. 

They cranked the mic up for Breaking Me Down and this was the first time ever I wished I had brought earplugs to a gig. The crowd were jumping and shouting the words. During Black 7 the frontman sat on the edge of the stage and unfortunately people started to act like animals at a zoo, practically jumping in his lap and taking pictures with him. However, Ryan, was being a total sweetheart and was really accommodating or perhaps he was just too drunk to care.

I thought I saw a pit start for Unreal but it was just three drunkards hugging and stumbling over each other. Top marks go to the crowd for lyric knowledge, shame I can't say the same about myself. Minor encore just so Ryan could sneak off the stage and appear in the middle of the crowd singing Halo. Needless to say he was instantly swarmed with people. I have no idea how he managed to breathe, never mind sing, amongst them all. It was such a cool thing to do and it goes to show how much this band really loves its’ fans. Black Betty, a Ram Jam cover, finished the set. As excited as I was to see these guys and as awesome as the gig actually was, they lose a point for all the tech issues, which broke up the fluidity of the set.

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