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Saturday, 28 September 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: And The Sky Darkened (Live Review By Matt Bladen)

And The Sky Darkened, State Of Deceit, Sepulchre, Good Morning Vietnam & Greywall, Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff

Once more into the breach of Cardiff on a Saturday. This time we were up against the Speedway closing off most of the city but luckily Womanby Street yet again provided sanctuary despite being a mere stones throw away from a bunch of mad people riding motorbikes with no gears or brakes and the baying mob armed with the dreaded vuvuzelas. Fuel in their wisdom had put on a free gig for the first fresher's weekend, showcasing a number of local acts. Me and my intrepid photographer headed in just before kick off I grabbed a beer before going into the backroom. The first thing I noticed though was that as this was free gig the doors were open so the music from the front bar was merging with  the PA in the back room.

However as soon as Greywall (6) hit the stage we were hit by the metalcore grooves that drowned out the front room. Ryan (guitar) and Shaun (bass) lay down the riffs, with Mitchell (drums) in the back room brought some traditional metalcore riffs for Leighton to scream over, his roar is mighty and his presences more so contorting in to numerous shapes for as he sang. Ryan and Shaun gave the clean vocals, though they weren't that great, and towards the end of the set the band were hampered by technical gremlins so Leighton had to use another mic for the final few tracks. For fans of breakdows and aggression Greywall will really appeal and they took the unenviable task of opening in their stride.

They gave way to Good Morning Vietnam (6) who are a more Post Hardcore styled band with some melodic touches too. Again they were full of aggression with all eyes on Glenn Tarplee-Hillier the frontman who prowled in the pit. Their emotionally charged music is very powerful with lyrics drawn from personal struggles. Again there were some technical hiccups but nothing affected the band more than one very drunk twat who at first was quite harmless, but then started to become more a nuisance, trying to grab the mic and the guitars until Glenn had enough and had him thrown out, and good riddance to him. The rest of the set continued as normal with the band giving their all to a much bigger crowd than the openers, again another band to enjoy if you love the style with a well trained stage show.

Next it was a band who are determined to try and beat King Kraken and Witch Tripper for most gigs of 2019. We've written about Sepulchre (7) before in these pages and each time they impress with their death tinged thrash metal as the call to arms of Darren brought in the biggest crowd so far and even a bit of action, with Dan and Jimmy flaking him and of course Aimee, who was dwarfed by the headliners kit they ploughed through their set with speed and precision playing set that consisted of mostly new material to a crowd who weren't as familiar with the band as I was, something that is always good when a band can make new fans. Warmly received and of course ever humble, South Wales' most adept and consistent thrash machine Sepulchre set the tone for what was to come.

So next were the organisers of the gig melodic thrash band State Of Deceit (7) who Alyn, Paul and myself had both seen this year, us in M2TM and Alyn at the Democratus Easter show, they once again pulled in the biggest crowd of the evening mainly due to their accessible heavy melodic thrash sound driven by Jon Russell's raw guitar sound and Pete Scammell's bellowing vocals that can both growl from the depths of hell and soar above the thick metal sound, they are an impressive band live really driving home their skill as a live act and supporters of the South Wales metal scene. Their heavy sound is mix of Pantera, Machine Head and even a bit of Slayer when they really push the accelerator, it's nothing groundbreaking sure but done well enough to keep your attention for their entire set even causing some action down the front. State Of Deceit are very well drilled, professional metal band with songs that get your head banging, which is all you can really ask from a live metal band.

So despite State Of Deceit organising the gig the headliners for the night are the more established name of And The Sky Darkened (8). Now the crowd had thinned a bit after SoD but that could be due to the alcohol consumption or that ATSD were probably the one band on the bill that were out of place, they are neither a 'core' act nor are they thrash/death metal, ATSD are a more heavy/grunge/progressive act melodic but also darkly heavy, the four piece are made up of Ryan Lewis (vocals and guitar) whos resonant voice really hits home while his guitar provides the downtuned riffs with Ollie Hansen (guitar) as the technically impressive rhythm section of James O' Donovan (bass) and Matt "Animal" Thomas (drums), it was a shame that fewer people were watching And The Sky Darkened but they are an act that do tend to stick out in the South Wales music scene with a lot more an complex but also straightforward sound than many of the bands on the scene, it means that they are a band who deserve to be in the headline spot but on a bill that is more suited to their sound.

That being said having what is quite an eclectic bill on a busy Saturday night at the beginning of freshers means that the South Wales scene is being exposed to a whole new audience and heck maybe even some Speedway fans! A showcase of just how good the South Wales scene is. More of this sort of thing please!     

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