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Saturday 16 November 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Trep (Live Review By Paul Hutchings)

Trep, Excursia, NO:IR UK & Lead By Lies – Fuel Rock Club

A filthy night followed a filthy day. Womanby Street eerily quiet; devoid of people except for those scurrying between buildings. The sound of jazz from Bootleggers and the occasional blast of indie from The Moon permeating the silence. Welcome to Cardiff’s beating musical heart with only five shopping weeks before the visit of the fat man in a Santa suit.

Yet step behind the doors on this usually most vibrant of streets and the heart is still beating. In Fuel, four bands have travelled to the Capital through Christmas shoppers laden with pointless commercially driven purchases, rush hour traffic and who have heaved and struggled their gear through load in and sound check. The bands that in the main have bulked the audience into double figures by remaining to watch their peers. This is South Wales metal at its most raw.

Headlining the evening are Trep (8). Familiar to most of us now, the three-piece are the most assured outfit of the evening, with their recent pedigree including finalists in the Bristol M2TM 2019 event. Rhys Evans (guitar and vocals), drummer Max Hill and comedian Sam Green (bass and backing vocals) deliver 40 minutes of their progressive wonderment. Tracks from the Lucian EP are now old friends. The band is competent, smoothly entwined, and the sparse crowd applauded hard. Green has a distinct style of banter between and during songs whilst his constant gurning at Evans throughout failed to put the frontman off his stride. A typically muddy sound in Fuel never helps a band like Trep whose clean lines deserve a crisp sound. Although I’ve seen Trep in more majestic form than this, they still won the night. Easily.

It’s been a turbulent year for the thrash vehicle that is Excursia (6). Recruiting and then having to fire a vocalist in such traumatic style has rocked their very foundations but the band has retained bite and fire. A choppy set sees the band a little disjointed, clearly still reeling from the recent events. A’Dan Shide has stepped up to the vocal plate in recent weeks and does a manful job, but it was fair to say that despite the lyrics on a stand in front of him, this isn’t his comfort zone and the change in demeanour when Lewis Temby steps up to deliver the final song of the night was clear. Whilst the talent remains, Excursia need tightening up between songs; developing their own style of banter and ironing out the joins. The next viewing will be interesting.

Trep aren’t the only Bristol M2TM Finalist alumni on show as the Nu-Metal stomp of NO:IR UK (6) take the centre night slot. I’ll be honest here; I don’t like their fusion of hip hop and Nu-metal but I cannot fault the effort the band puts in. Working off little response from the sparse numbers in front of them, the five-piece ignored the absence of crowd feedback and exploit the opportunity for a decent work-out. Hip hop, nu-metal and hardcore fuses in a schizophrenic sound which swerves and changes at will. Soaring, screaming and roaring vocals combine, sometimes pleasingly, sometimes more awkwardly. The band’s style relies heavily on movement, but the Korn style antics haven’t aged well. Add in a rather idiosyncratic image and it doesn’t quite gel for me.

The evening opens with Lead By Lies (6), who have gigged hard throughout the year. I was impassive about their metalcore style at a previous viewing and the unenviable task of playing to a room of about eight punters doesn’t energise them much. Full marks for their efforts though, as they filled their 30-minute slot with tracks from their recent EP release Punch, Fall. Ryan Griffiths remains the centre of attention, especially on such a small stage and once again vocals range from excellent to ropey; his roars far more impressive than the cleans where he struggles to maintain clarity and tone. Lead By Lies remain enjoyable without being captivating.

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